France – the Final Chapter

6th to 15th July 2017

We left Royan at 5am on Thursday 6th July heading down through the North firing ranges on the West Coast of France. It was a long trip of 11.5 hours. We had to slow down a little as we could only enter Cap Ferrat one hour before high tide as there is a sandbar at the entrance and there can be quite a lot of swell. It wasn’t too bad, coming out three days later was a different story! There is a very large sand dune here called the Dune de Pilat on the way into the bay.

We left Cap Ferrat on Sunday 9th July at 6am, there was no firing as it was a weekend. We spoke to the port who advised that the swell was 1.5m however, with wind over tide (ie going in opposite directions) it was choppy and the swell at the bar was 2m (wave height) so it wasn’t particularly nice, in fact it was horrible (it’s not all great). The trip was just over 10 hours to Anglet, which was about three miles from Bayonne and the wind was gusting quite hard at times. It was only about an hour or so from our destination that the wind dropped and the sun came out.
Our first full day and we had to go in search of an opticians who could provide some glasses for Ian. (I mentioned in my last blog how he managed to knock them off his head and they dropped into the water with no chance of retrieving them). So déjà vu as we had this same issue in Thailand. Just one of the challenges we have to overcome. It rained quite a lot here too, so off we went to Bayonne (which is quite a big town) in our identical pac a macs, identical bikes, both in jeans and sailing shoes, we did look like Howard and Hilda although I didn’t wear the sunglasses.

Luckily Ian has prescription sunglasses and the third optician could produce glasses from the sunglasses in two days. We spent the rest of the time here doing chores. On Tuesday 11th July we had a stowaway Julia. The following day we sailed about 12 miles down the coast to a lovely bay which had St Jean De Luz to port, Ciboure ahead and Socoa to starboard. The bay was a hive of activity with various watersports – dinghies, paddle boarders, surf boards, areas for swimming and anchorages with beaches all around the bay.

C1. Cemetery at Socoa 12.7.17.On arriving in the bay, what stood out was the cemetery in Socoa on the hillside. Now Julia is a Taphophile, “what?” I hear you cry, it is a fascination with cemeteries. I can actually understand this! So we had a wander up to it, it was quite something else. Most of it was made up of family tombs.

There are three breakwaters here. As the tide gets higher the waves crash against this. Some people walk along them hoping they won’t get wet as some of the waves crash over the wall. Someone had to give it a go!

We had night on a buoy in the bay and then moved into the marina. We had to moor up stern to (which means the back of the boat is against the jetty). This meant that we could use our pasarelle (gang plank) for the first time but before we could do that Ian had to drill a hole in the engine room hatch door so it would fix into it so it didn’t slide about when you stood on it and also make up a pulley so it didn’t bang on the jetty. It is quite amazing how quickly things get done when it involves a boat!

That evening we went into St Jean de Luz for a nice meal and the place was buzzing. Walking back to the boat a large bar caught our eye, it was bar and street food all in one. So we popped in for a drink.


Bastille Day 14th July 2017

This is a big celebration in France so we had made sure we were still in France for this. It started at 9.30am with swimming across the bay from Socoa beach to St Jean de Luz beach. It’s quite difficult to see how many people were taking part from the photo. There was a memorial ceremony and then a group playing big band music in the market place. In the market place artists set up their stalls with easels and were painting and displaying their work. This was done each day.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Julia at lunchtime as she had a train and plane to catch so wasn’t able to stay for the celebrations that evening. So we waved her off on the train.
In the evening there was a band playing by the Renauld bar we’d been into the night before that attracted a large audience. We decided to go back to near where the marina was to watch the fireworks on the beach, which was crowded.

Our time in France has come to a close.  So on Saturday 15th July we headed south for the border. We’ve had a great time in France and are now looking forward to our time in Spain.

16th July 2017

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