Just What Our Souls Were Craving – Cap De L’Homy, France
Silence. All I hear is silence. Not the kind that is the absence of sound, but rather the kind that you get deep in a forest. It’s intense and somehow very full, all-encompassing yet insanely quiet.
There is an owl in the background with an eerie hoot that echoes and carries through the trees, the crunch of pine needles under my feet and the comforting blanket of a dense forest all around me. Somewhere in the distance I can hear the waves of the ocean crash, a background lullaby that sweeps me into a kind of zen-state that I literally haven’t felt since I left the PNW.
THIS is exactly the kind of silence I love, the kind both our souls have been looking for, and we found it only a few hours from home. What an awesome and unexpected gift!
We Weren’t Originally Planning to Come Here
We started off the day not exactly knowing where we were going to end up. It’s a strange and unusual feeling for us.
During our 9 years full-time RVing in USA in “the beast” we almost always planned several months ahead, just to make sure we had a site. So we’re still adjusting to the idea that in our mini-rig we can just “wing it” and pick up and go whenever and wherever we feel like it. Plus we didn’t really need to move. The Aire at Capbreton was comfy with a lovely beach nearby, so there wasn’t a huge impetus for us to leave.
But I’d received a really intriguing tip…..
On one of Facebook European motorhome groups that I frequent a gal had gushed about a teeny, off-the-beaten-track place called Cap De L’Homy. No-one else really commented about it, but she said it was one of the nicest places she had stayed on the coast.
“You must go there!” she insisted
Now “nice” means a whole lotta different things to different folks, so I’m never completely convinced when someone tells me something like that, but a little Googling showed real promise. The place looked like it was in the middle of nowhere, set in a pine forest close to the beach with (apparently) not much going on. In other words, pretty much all the things we value in a campground. Hmmmmm……
We Knew Immediately It Was Perfect
We made the short ~1.2 hour drive north and as soon as we arrived we knew we’d made the right decision.
Camping Municipal De L’Homy is both a Campground and a Camping Aire, located one right next to the other in the forest. Both are actually quite lovely, but we immediately liked it so much that we decided to splurge and go for one of the bigger pitches in the campground itself (€25/night this time of year).
It was perfect! Our site was spacious and completely in nature, enveloped in maritime pines, right next to miles hiking trails and with the lure of the ocean just 10 mins walk away. Plus it was intensely quiet and peaceful. As soon as we’d parked all three animals immediately fell asleep, a sure sign that we’d hit the jackpot.
Later that evening after a day of literally just lounging at our site we took a long sandy hike to the beach, first through the pine forest, then over dunes drenched in swaying sand grass, and finally down to the beach. When we arrived the sun was just flirting with the horizon and we were the only ones there with nothing but miles and miles of ocean and wild waves crashing into the sand.
I went wild taking pictures of the sunset while Paul and Polly played around in the surf. We were alone, just us, the beach, the waves and the ocean, and we all felt an intense and immediate connection. Nature and body blurred into one, like a swirl of paint colors mixing together into a single hue. The crashing waves became our heartbeats, the expanse of color that lit up the sky our minds. It’s a crazy, wonderful, insane feeling. There are rare moments in life when this happens to me, but when it does I never want it to end.
This place was clearly exactly what our souls had been craving, and we couldn’t quite believe we’d found it.
We Decide To Linger A While
The next day we walked in to explore town, or rather I should say our teeny neighborhood because there really is almost nothing here. A couple of small beach restaurants, a mini-grocery store with the basics, a surf school (of course), and a handful of houses. There’s literally nothing to do apart from lounge, walk or bike in the forest, eat and sleep. Oh, and work of course. There happens to be screaming 4G internet, the digital nomad dream.
Naturally we decide to stay multiple days. We both feel totally “right” here and we don’t know if we’re going to find another place like it on the coast, so we decide to make the most of it while we can.
Plus There’s A Lighthouse Nearby!
Another major draw of the area is that there’s a lighthouse just ~7 km away on the biking trail.
Phare de Contis is a lovely lady. She was originally lit in 1863 and her 38m tall tower is cloaked in a pretty black/white “barbers pole” spiral, one of only three lighthouses in the world to have this design (Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and St Augustine in Florida are the other two, for those curious). She’s built up on a small hill just inland from the beach, so her Fresnel lens hovers 50m over sea-level. She’s a total beaut, and the big bonus is that she’s open for visitation!!!!!
We’ve been dying (and failing) to get into a lighthouse ever since we arrived in Europe. We’ve admired several from the outside, but we’ve managed to miss visitation every single time either because they were closed for the season or just not open at all, so we haven’t been able to climb any towers. For lighthouse nutters like us, it’s been…..excruciating….!
Finally all that was going to change!!! Yeahhhhhhhhh!!!
Paul and I decide to visit separately, just so Polly and the cats wouldn’t be left alone, taking the pleasant 7 km bike ride along the greenway trail to Contis Plage. It’s a fab ride on a wonderful bike-only (no cars) trail through the pine forest, typical of the trails that Les Landes is famous for. I struggle a bit on the hills and feel rather defeated by an elderly couple that race past me, until I realize they’re on electric bikes. Cheaters….(and yes, I’m a smidgen jealous).
Eventually I make it to Phare de Contis, pay my measly €3 to get in, and after a heart-pounding 183 steps to the top I soak in the views. Finally, I’m in a lighthouse again, and I feel totally in my element. I admire the gorgeous Fresnel lens, hang out in the spacious gallery (outside walkway) around the lantern room and take my time going back down the stairway. I am a very happy lady!!
After my visit I putz around Contis Plage for a while. It’s a lovely little beach village with a pleasant Aire de Camping (€13/night, just below the lighthouse actually) as well as a well-rated 5-star campground. There’s a little more going on here than our spot (several more restaurants/bars) so more people as well, but it still has a lovely vibe. We may come back and stay here in the future.
The Rest Of Our Time We Just Lounge In Camp
The next several days we literally don’t do anything except lounge, bike and walk on the beach with Polly at Cap De L’Homy.
We’re not the only folks staying here. In fact it seems to be a rather popular stop for surfers, especially young Germans for some strange reason, several of which are shall-we-say very relaxed about the whole clothing thing (we’re in Europe, what can I say…). Plus there’s a teenage surf-camp going on at the other end of the campground. However everyone is surprisingly quiet, respectful of the silence in the forest, so we all get along.
Plus the nature is just lovely. The forest here is dense and just a few minutes walk on the trails will take you far, far away from the things of man. It’s also loaded with bushes that have heavy bunches of ripe red fruit on them that look something like a cross between a strawberry and a lychee. I have no idea what they are, but I notice several of the kids in camp munching down handfuls of the berries (and still hopping around 20 minutes later), so I decided to partake myself. Delish!!! I never do find out what they’re actually called.
Plus of course we soak in every sunset we can.
I know that I often gush poetic about sunsets on the ocean, but it really is a fabulous thing. Here in Les Landes you get the mix of the wild coast with the unpredictable weather of the Atlantic, which brings in textures of clouds that vary everyday. It makes for spectacular sunsets that are always a little different no matter how many times you see them.
We could stay here forever or at least a few good months, but that’s also the thing about travel. There’s always that inexplicable urge to see what’s just around the next corner. So after almost a week we decide, somewhat reluctantly, that we are ready to move on. There’s a lot more to explore and now we know…we can always come back and re-fill our souls right here if we need it.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Oh my god, Nina! These pictures! There’s something particularly magic here that you managed to capture. What a dream. I’ll put that on my list for France.
Thank you!! Sometimes nature just makes the pics easy. This was one of those places.
Donna Sims says
Beautiful….lovely photos. Definitely worth an extra day or 3. 🙂
Andrew EDSOR says
A member of the Edsor clan says: “They are the fruit of a plant sometimes known as the strawberry tree and are edible although I am told an acquired taste.”
Ahhhhhh…strawberry tree. I’ve actually heard that name before but it was buried deep in some old brain files. Yes, that was it. Thank you!
Andrew EDSOR says
“The proper name is Arbutus unedo I guess r you really needed to know that”
Sue Malone says
Haven’t heard you gush like this since Cape Blanco, Nina. Almost makes me wish we could beam ourselves and our rig across the pond. Alas, not going to happen at this stage in life, but I sure enjoyed seeing this lovely place through your eyes.
You are so right Sue. It’s the first time I’ve felt this poetic since Cape Blanco, and you totally picked up on it. This place was special.
So glad you found this place so close by. Thanks for sharing.
You sound happy and peaceful. Your sunset photos are beautiful, the paws look delightfully relaxed, and that photo you took of the stairway in the lighthouse looks like a fiddlehead fern! So glad you guys found such a lovely spot.
Thanks Laurel. We definitely felt the peace here. It was a wonderful stop.
Pamela Wright says
Oh, I can so understand that silence. There is nothing like being totally alone (well, with John) with nature. It is a feeling you can’t understand without experiencing it. What a spectacular spot you found! I can see why you didn’t want to leave. Your sunset photos are so beautiful. That beach is huge! Polly did such a nice job posing in the final photo. A keeper for sure.
Totally!!! It’s that silence thing that’s amazing. And yes, we were stunned at how big the beaches in the Landes are.
Diane Borcyckowski says
Wow! What an extraordinary place this sounds like! Your photography is wonderful. I especially love the last picture of Polly in profile in the sunset…
Thanks!! That last pic took some doing. Very hard to get Polly to sit still enough for a multi-exposure shot, but she’s a trooper. She’s a great photo dog 🙂
Lonna Purgaric says
Beautiful and such a special find! I can imagine the feeling you had at first sight. Probably giddiness and awe at finding such a place. Your photos and writing are such a pleasure!
Angie Quantrell says
So much beauty! I think I would stay as long as possible too! Lovely!
My kind of place…..I love your description of the silence. It’s something I always look for but seldom find.
Beautiful! What a gorgeous place to visit! Thank you for the post.
Linda Davey says
Of course I had to LOL at your jealousy of the elder folk who E-biked past you! I admit that on the way home from Decathlon today after picking up our new E-bikes I had to slow it down because I was going too fast for my comfort zone! OMG, I love my new bike!!
I really am SO jealous!!!
Your pictures are what I can only dream about, but dream I do thanks to you !