Travelled : 55 miles to Messanges-Plage in the Aquitaine Region
Visited : Mimizan-Plage, Moliets-Plage
Stayed : Camping de Moisan, Messanges Plage, all the usual campsite services and wifi, €11. N 43.48.841, W 001.23.487
Up at a reasonable time, I get the bikes ready while Pam cuts up some fruit. Like almost every town we have stayed in along the Atlantic Region of France, Gastes has an extensive network of cycle ways. We set off for the adjoining town of Parentis-en-Born about 10 kilometres further around the lake. It’s flat most of the way and an easy ride through pine plantation mostly. Anyway just my luck, we arrive to find a market just getting started in the main thoroughfare and Pam hits her stride. An hour later we head back to Gastes with the saddle bags loaded with fruit, nuts and vegetables, a BBQ chicken and a table cloth of all things.
We ride back without without getting lost, something of an achievement with so many cycle ways heading all over the place. We big breakfast before packing up and doing the usual housekeeping issues and continuing south.
The pine plantations and small villages continue. We note the half timber houses, common in Normandy are very common along this part of the coast. The rough hewn timbers standing out again the rendered fill. We pass a huge wood chip mill as we turn off the D652 to the beach town of Mimizon-Plage. We originally planned to stay there but didn’t quit make it. It’s a fairly modern looking place, lots of B&B and holiday lettings but we find a park easy enough about two blocks back from the beach.
I probably should expand on a couple of things, firstly ‘this Plage’ and ‘that Plage’. Plage is French for beach. So as you drive in first you drive in Mimizon the village, then onto Mimizon Plage another separate village but on the beach. Hope that makes sense. Secondly what we think of as beach in Australia and the French refer to as a beach is vastly different. It seems to us that anything with rocks smaller than your fist is a beach.
We should also refer to the huge sand dune you must walk over to actually get to the beach in this part of the coast called the Cote d’Argent by the way. Then if the tide is out the water is likely to be another 500 metres further on. I still find the huge tidal changes here a bit hard to grasp. About 4 metres on this part of the coast.
Anyway we walk over the dune, the beach is quite beautiful. Long and straight as the eye can see, golden sand and great waves. We wander about on the beach for a while, the G string and topless appear to be the fashion. I may have to rethink my thoughts about French beaches. Suddenly I check my pulse, no I haven’t gone to heaven.
We move on to Moliets Plage about another hour down the coast. The Lonely Planet describe it as a beach unspoilt by tourism. The beach was almost identical to Mimizan but the dune before the beach was twice the size. The aire wasn’t very appealing, a bit dry and dusty and expensive at €11. The camping sites near the beach were almost €30 a night and we didn’t like the forced march to the beach in any case, so on we go.
15 minutes later we turn for Messanges-Plage which has no real village, just the beach. There is an aire but it’s full of mostly very old surfer type campers, lots of long rastafarian hair and the smell of weed. It does look a little rustic for us and I can see myself arguing with Bob Marley’s grandson over turning the music down at midnight. Not that we have anything against a dreadlocks holiday, we head back to a small campsite less than a kilometre back from the beach at €11 with everything it will do nicely. We can ride the bicycles to the beach easily from here and we do several times.
The beach here really is good so we decide to stay a couple of nights, it’s not far to Biarritz from here and it will get expensive so why not.
Michael and Pam