Recently, my host family and I took two days off from school and work and travelled down the South-West coast of France! Our first stop along the way was Dune du Pilat. Here is a picture and a few facts:
- It's the highest dune in Europe and always in motion. Depending on the years, the height varies between 100 and 115 meters
- Dune's are made up of 60 million cubic meters of sand
- They stretch for roughly 1.7 miles
- 500 meters wide from the forest to the beach
Arcachon Beach! It is just like any other public beach, with sand stretching for a couple miles, and a nice pier to walk out onto. The weather was beautiful, so we spent a few hours laid out under the sun eating our Boulangerie sandwiches and enjoying one another's company. The beach was surrounded by a small city, like most ones we visited, but I think if we had gone into one of the boutiques and decided to purchase something, we would have been turning around to head for home because of lack of money. The town was cute, but not the prices!
After that we continued our way through small towns, and stopped at various beaches, before reaching our final destination of the day, Biarritz!
Here we stayed one night in a hotel, which was totally awesome! It had two bedrooms, plus a side room with bunk beds, a small kitchen, a porch overlooking the pool, and of course the bathroom. Although we didn't spend much time there, it provided a nice crash pad. Biarritz reminded me of a smaller version of Paris. Fairly busy, filled with shops, restaurants, small clubs, and of course the beach! This was what made it different from the very city-life vibe in Paris. Everyone was very beachy, the Ocean smells filled the air, and life seemed more relaxed. We ate at a Pizzeria for dinner, walked through the streets, and finally plopped in bed after a long days worth of travel.
Can you say, hello Spain!!!!
The fam packed up the car, and around 11 o'clock we were headed out for our next adventure, Spain! I had no idea we were doing this, and could barely stay seated for the very short 35 minute ride to the border. Now I knew that people could just pass from France to Spain, or visa versa easily, but I didn't realize how simple it was! We literally just went through a toll booth, and were all of a sudden in a new country! The country was just how I had pictured it, really green, humid, and smelling of Ocean water. We spent the day in St. Sebastian. I didn't know Spain didn't have tax, so that was a nice surprise while shopping :-) We ate at a small cafe next to the Ocean, no beach in particular, just where the water came up and met the city. We didn't stay long enough for me to be able to discover cultural differences, but the other American exchange student Sarah, from Wisconsin, who goes to my High School here in France, filled me in on what she noticed. Unlike the French who eat breakfast before work/school, then lunch around 12:30, and finally dinner at about 7:30 or 8, the Spanish eat much later! She said that people didn't even start lunch until about 3 pm in the afternoon, then took a nap around 5 ish, and started to make dinner around 8 or 9 at night! And I thought France was bad!!! I am a person who likes to eat when I am hungry, which is very frequently, and have definitely struggled with the eating schedule here, so I can't imagine being there! But the city was nice, and I loved walking around and exploring different shops. Back to France it was...
The final stop of the trip would be in the Basque Country. Here, they speak their own language, which is a mix of Spanish and French, and unlike the other two, it doesn't derive from Latin. We got to watch a really cool sports game that is played there called Pelote. Here is a link describing the game, and a picture as well:
We also walked around in small shops, and bought special Basque Country shoes. Here is another link which describes these special shoes:
They are super comfortable, and I totally recommend them!
It was about 5:30 when we finally wrapped things up for the day, and started out on our three hour long car ride home. It was am amazing experience to see how different parts of France and Spain looked, and to compare people's life styles, fashion, and even the language differences! I will never forget the two day trip, and my host family is totally awesome for taking me on it.