Europe’s Largest Sand Dune

Brian in the Fiat

Brian in the Fiat

Our road trip on our last day in Bordeaux seemed to never start. We returned the scooter and walked the rest of the way to the train station to pick up our car. After arriving we realized our folly – no passport! So off we headed back to our apartment. We tried to grab a bus instead of hiking the 2 kilometers back but we got on the wrong one. Luckily, Google maps didn’t lead us astray and we made it back to the apartment relatively quickly. On the way I distracted us with the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s life. It was her marriage to Henry (later king of England) that brought Bordeaux wine to the fame it now enjoys. Walking the distance back to the train station I marveled at how far we have come in the first year of our marriage. Neither of us complained about the walk, no blame was placed on the forgotten passport, instead we just held hands and enjoyed our time together.

Arcachon beach

Arcachon beach

Finally en route to Arcachon we relaxed and turned up the French rock on the radio. We were headed for a small beach town to the west of Bordeaux. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area, and we even thought that we should have split our time in Bordeaux to spend some of it staying out there. The town is a haven for French tourists, and apparently German tourists as well. The beach was gorgeously sandy and we lay out on towels and laughed at the little kids playing around us. The water was too cold to go in, but the sun felt wonderful and the air smelled so deliciously beachy. Brian left me on the towels to hunt down some beer and snacks. I almost got separation anxiety when he didn’t return for 45 minutes. I know that seems silly to you all – but we have spent 24 hours a day, every day for almost 350 days together – with the exception of when the bathroom door is closed. To spend that much time with another person has been an incredible challenge but one that I think we are conquering like champions.

After Brian returned with my favorite lemon gelato I filled him in on the fun he had missed. Such as a little boy teaching his younger brother how to count from 10-20 (in French, of course). The younger boy was so excited to be able to do it he started jumping up and down shouting numbers – although he skipped “16” every time. Adorable.

TripAdvisor led us to a restaurant that no longer existed in search of some oysters and seafood. Luckily there was another restaurant right down the road. I confidently told Brian I was order a double order of oysters, since they didn’t serve a quantity I was happy with. Brian cautioned me that there was probably a reason they only served a certain number of oysters, and since I’d never had them before I ought to just try one order to start with. I scoffed a bit at him telling me how to order, but he turned out to be exactly right. Oysters are not my favorite thing and they may just be the only seafood that I don’t like. Something about sucking down a raw little creature that is just all flapping muscly bits is gross, not to mention the strong vinegar sauce that it was served with. Uck. My salmon dish that followed was wonderful though, and I happily admitted I was wrong to my smart husband.

At the bottom

At the bottom

We returned to our little Fiat 500 to adventure to the Dune of Pyla – Europe’s largest sand dune. We parked at the base and stared up at the monstrosity before us. Brian had never seen a sand dune before and my only experience was in India 8 years ago. Luckily there were stairs as our egos took the hit of not being able to scamper up the sand itself. The view from the top took our breath away.

The sun was just starting to set and the soft pink light seemed to melt into the ocean before us. Behind us lay the thick forests of western France. The dune rose out of nothing, and we marveled at it’s existence. There were several groups of people hanging out on the top of the dune, some brave souls were rolling down it, trying to stop before plunging into the underbrush that marked the bottom.

Perfect

Perfect

Hoards of German students were celebrating something and there was a troop of little French Scouts. We wished we had brought sledding saucers – they would have been perfect on the sand. As it was, we were content to just stand with our arms around each other and try to eat the sunset with our eyes. What a spectacular piece of God’s earth.

Returning to Bordeaux we capitalized on our last night there with a bottle of Rosé in front of the Miroir d’Eau on the main promenade. The lights from the palace and the street reflected in an amazing way against the mirrored pool from the fountain and our Rosé seemed to compliment the mood perfectly. It was a lovely way to cap off our time in Bordeaux. We strolled hand in hand back to our apartment and, through the sparkling streets with my husband, I realized just how lucky I am.

See the rest of our Arcachon photos here.

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