ARES - ARCACHON 54 kmSeptember 30, 2017 in France
Definitely my turn to write the blog as today we are visiting some of the destinations which I visited on caravan holidays with my parents when I was a "young gal"!
It had rained overnight but by the time we had downed our croissants and I had savoured the best cuppa all holiday (made with BOILING water not luke warm!), the rain had stopped. We were back on the straight old railway line route fringed by pine, oak and sometimes maple trees, with some purple heather scattered in for variety. After 23 km we stopped for coffee in the unremarkable town of Biganos at an equally unremarkable "rapide" coffee van but the cheerful, chatty owner made up for the not so great venue. We had a short but exciting stretch on the road where even "Pompier" Sam wanted to get up closer and personal with us on his way to the fire!
The Gill (nee Ellis) reminiscence tour started in Gujan Mestras, where in the early 70's I had visited and this was the place where I received, by telegram, my 'O' level results, learned the French names for the 4 card suits and flew for the first time from Bordeaux airport. How did this all happen? I came on holiday with my parents and their friends, the Punter family. The Punters hosted a french exchange boy called Pierre and his family had a holiday home and several building plots in Gujan so we stayed with our caravans on the plots and were often entertained by the french family and played cards which made life easier for the ones of us who spoke french and English as we didn't keep having to say "he said"/il dit" etc. The Punter family's new Ford Granada car broke down at the end of the holiday so my family and Mr Punter went home and I stayed out in France with Mrs Punter and the children so when my 'O' level results arrived my parents telegraphed them out to me (probably because they were shocked a mere girl could pass them all! still that would definitely get me a place at secretarial college where I was destined to go!) . Anyway when Mr Punter came back his car still wouldn't work so we all had to fly home. I also came out again a couple of years later and I told Tony several days ago that I remembered on my second visit one of the older Punter sons pointing out to me the rather unexpected name on the war memorial, of course, it is still there - see picture! Of course over the 40 plus years there has been a lot of development in the town so I couldn't find the french family's house or plots but I did recognise the cemetery which I recall we use to walk passed, the Hotel de Ville, "that" war memorial, oyster fishermen's harbour and beach.
Tour over, we headed into Arcachon which I had also visited on the same trips but nothing seemed familiar. We had to cycle up a hill to our hotel which is situated in the Villa d'Hivers area basically the whole area is made up of 19th century villas, it was obviously very posh in its day. Our hotel, Villa Regina, was built in the 1860's and even though the apartments are modern in style, the building has it original old world charm. To get into town we have a few minutes walk to a beautiful garden which used to be the site of a casino, there is a lift that takes us down to a fountain and fashionable street leading to the beach.
Plans for tomorrow's rest day are fluid as the weather is due to be that way too (forecast rain).Read more