Monday, August 26, 2013

L'autostop en France: Arcachon

Arcachon is the classic beach town in the south of France ...except it's in the west, it's more touristy than the idyllic one you're imagining and it has a whopping big sand dune right beside it.

The Dune du Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe measuring 110m tall and 2.7km in length. One of our rides out of Paris pulled out a map, terrifyingly spread it over the steering wheel and advised we go there. For our own safety we agreed immediately. Not having any real plans past Royan we thought, why not?

I got big warm fuzzies upon arriving in Arcachon because it's such a French, seaside town (again, very touristy, but I wasn't sick of that yet as hitchhiking is surprisingly not touristy). We got a ride with a family and felt very child-like having a nap in the back. They spoke English so Eleanor got to join in for once!

We arrived to blue waves, blue skies, umbrellas over seaside tables outside cafes and people wandering around a little sandy in jandels and bikinis. See what I mean?

We thanked our ride and hopped out, wandered by the sea for a while and made a quick plan to check out the town, visit the dune and then camp out somewhere near there.

No idea what it is but it looks kinda like the Disney Castle!
We strolled through the streets, I bought some macarons to send to the States for Maja's birthday (the girl from the Vegas/Key West posts) then we decided to try some oysters as Arcachon is known for them.

Turns out, I am not a fan of oysters. Oh well, E didn't mind them.

Then we grabbed a bus and headed out to the dune. We timed it pretty well as it was just about sunset when we arrived. We were also the toughest people there as we didn't take the stairs up and we had our packs.

I'm not sure I like being tough - I was panting and red faced at the top!

Of course we picked the hardest way to get to a campsite, which was all the way at the other end of the dune and there wasn't a road handy. Walking in sand is not the most fun, moon hopping down the side of the giant dune is substantially better.
Prepare yourself - sunset in a beautiful place = a lot of sunset photos - I've tried to limit it.

Told you I wasn't sure about the 'being tough' deal.

E gazing wistfully at the moon... Ha - probably just taking a breather

The beginning of the moon jumps - these two photos were taken within seconds.

These poor people were making their way up where we'd just come down. Probably the steepest part!
 Abruptly the dune just ended and we made our way into the camp.

We encountered the French versions of Finbar from Kenmare - why 16 year old boys seem to think we'd like to party with them I don't know - but after some evasive action we got a campsite.
We spent the evening catching up on postcards and travel journals.
We left early the next morning as we planned to hitch to Paris which is, oh, I don't know, seven hundred kilometers away. However, we used the same logic as Dublin and figured all roads lead to Paris, right?

Packing up.


  1. Love reading your blog Nina and gorgis photos. Could you please tell Eleanor to stop poking her tongue out in photos. Marie and Robert

    1. Haha I'm sad to admit that I am an instigator in the tongue poking.