10 March 2018

excursion 2018: the actualité

AND SO IT CAME TO PASS: we made our transit pretty much as planned. We followed, more or less, the projected passage to our three hotels, subject to one or two improvements, routes barrées, and alternatives, — as described in my preceeding blog offering, which gave our route in michelin-strength detail. We crossed La Manche overnight, and as far as we know, we were successful in cancelling the anti-theft alarm on the new motor (liable to activation by the pitch, roll and yaw of a conveying vessel upon the briney) so did not contribute to the keeping awake of said ship after lights out. 
We caught the early morning Gironde ferry after our stay in the Rochefort Ibis, (room 108) and in proper order, located our two target phares: Hourtin behind chain link fences deep in the pine forests of Les Landes, Contis more welcoming,  exotically standing proud sentinel above pines on the edge of the wonderful and expansive beaches of Aquitaine.

Both lights were added to the west coast family-a-phares in the 19C to fill in perceived sections of dark coast, punctuating a shoreline that would have been almost utterly featureless to ocean goers before the arrival of the current scattering of coastal settlements and holiday gaffs. 
In between these two sentinels we saluted the light of Cap Ferret across the Archachon Bassin as we supped on a light seafood themed repast al fresco dans le soleil. Previously a stop at Lacanau Océan had been made after ticking off Hourtin (where, incidently, an invisible sea could be heard in a constant roar of surf beyond the wooded dunes thereabouts) to re-acquaint ourselves with the vast rolling seas-and-sands there, enjoyed one easter some years ago for a holiday when we found vipers on the beach and made massive drip castles. 
More competant bloggers than I would have provided a sound track hereabouts of the singular rolling surf that is so prevalent on this Atlantic shore (is it the peculiarly fine silk sand that resonates so distintively; it often squeaks when walked upon) but I am only second division in the bells and whistles aspect of this medium so you will just have to take my word for it. The surf booms. Constantly and wonderfully.

Lacanau Océan is still as brassily vulgar as before, but backed up with those wonderfully indulgent seaside villas of a bygone age, before the riffraff started to want some of the action . . .  we rented one back in 2003. It remains a strange island of humanity in the vast tracts of forests, lakes and endless beach of the area. The snap above gives you that strange oasis feeling as one approaches the place from the north . . . taken in pre digital days (or at least my pre-d-ds).
A glorious day then, and such a shock of bright light after the trudge through the last few weeks of grey grosse bretagne.
The rest of the transfer to Sablet was a bit of an anticlimax, but with its moments: the wondrous panoramas of snow caked Pyrenees and the bustling colour of Samartan; then eating exceptionally well just next door to l’Ibis at Castelnaudary (hotel trois was located without more than one wrong turn this time although I could almost swear it has moved several roundabouts closer to the local autoroute . . . we got another room 108 . . . Hotel deux, at Mont de Massan,  cheapest and by far the best of this trip out, laid on a pristine room 308 for us . . .). 
From Castelnaudary almost to Sablet, the accompanying weather was dull and overcast: a little depressing as there are no bars and cafes whatsoever to be found roadside for the first sixty miles, I kid you not, but it is Minervois, after all. 

We broke our fast eventually in a down-at-heel bar up in Capestang (I liked it, the street door had a mind of its own, dashed good coffee). Sablet greeted us with sunniness and southerly breezets after one last Route Barrée at Camaret. Numero uno sported an ice cold interior and some evidence of foul play from the central heating. It is taking days to warm the place up but we are here, in the light, and I have even had the time to cleanse the motor which conveyed us here of the road grime accrued . . .  it shines once more and waits to be shown around . . .