Bonjour France!

We had been trying to plan a trip to France for ages, because two of our dear friends live there.  We were so excited to finally sort out plans for a trip at the end of April.  It was a little bit of a rough start leaving London due to several hours of delays- but we were picked up from the airport in the wee hours by a joyful Arnaud (A).  Upon arrival, we quickly settled in for the night.

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Morning view of Arnaud & Estelle’s lovely home

The guys had a working trip, while I was spoiled and got to sleep in.  I woke up to have breakfast outside on the back patio with Estelle (E): bread with jam and lovely tea with honey.  We took a trip into town to go to the market for fresh vegetables and baguettes, then came home and made lunch: camargue French rice (a red rice grown in wetlands in the South of France), Basque ham (what Canadians call prosciutto but thicker and smoother), fresh baguette, fig jam and Basque goat cheese.  I guess I’m not the only spoiled one as the guys stopped working for their lunch break and this was the feast they found!

Full and happy, the guys made the most of the sunshine and worked outside while Estelle and I took a nap before walking down to the beach.  On the way we ran into her friends Caroline and Adrian.  They have a really neat mini golf course where they have created little gardens and seating areas and all sorts of creative things.  We sat down by the ocean to listen to the waves and enjoy the view and then the guys had finished work and met up with us. Also: Estelle, I love this picture of you, relaxed and home and taking in the beauty around us xo

Together, the 4 of us walked up the hill to a lookout before taking stairs (just a few! lol) to descend back down to sea level.  We walked along a promenade (past some twiggy but determined little trees) which led onto the beach where we got our first view of Europe’s largest sand dune:  Dune du Pilat.

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From here, the dune blends into the landscape

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Looking along the visible length of the dune from the promenade (you can see it going off into the distance)

A and I began heading up, and then I was very pleasantly surprised that T had decided to make the trek up as well so that we could enjoy the top of the dune together- and wow is it an incredible place!  It’s hard to find words for places as amazing and surprising as this!  On a giant sand dune, your mind expects to be completely surrounded by sand- but nope! Looking back, it’s all forest as far as you can see.  To the left, it’s sand dune stretching out for about 3 kilometres, and then ahead it’s the sea!  It’s a very surreal experience and SO worth seeing! 

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The dune, stretching out behind Arnaud and I

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In the other direction, forest and sea! So surreal!!

We stayed up there a while to take in the view before half walking half running down. I may have stopped to make a sand-angel but I’ll keep the picture to myself as mostly you just notice my butt imprint in the sand. Something to save for a future holiday calendar, perhaps. 😉  

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Enjoying a little cuddle under the blue sky as a paraglider rides the wind above us (I bet T called ahead for the timing!)

Heading back down to sea level became a bit more fun as A demonstrated his flying skills with perfect martial arts posture, inspiring me to take the leap as well- and T is included in this collage because I just love this picture.

 

And last but not least, before we left the beach: we came upon several massive jellyfish, as well as these tiny little shimmering clear globes. My best guess is that they are baby jellyfish but perhaps some wise reader can inform us… it looks almost like a tiny glass marble because of the swirl inside.

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Next up: returning to the house for a fantastic seafood dinner.  We had oysters, sea snails (bigorneaux), fresh prawns, squid in ink, fresh baguette and wine (always wine) as the APPETIZER.  If you’ve never had bigorneaux, I highly recommend that you give them a go if you get a chance.  They are tiny, tasty, fun to eat, and unrelated to their flavour: their colour and shape reminded me of the sad little prisoner creatures of Ursula’s in the Little Mermaid – but don’t let that stop you!  Check out this video and tell me if you see the connection!

Dinner was steak grilled over an open fire BBQ alongside the best fresh lettuce I’ve ever had, topped with olive oil and apple cider vinegar (which, PS, is now a daily staple of my diet!).  My dear readers, you likely know me well enough now to know that when the food is that good, I forget to take pictures! lol.  In my defence, we were also just really enjoying being present in the experience with our friends, and there is a time for pictures, and a time to trust your memory to keep it all stored for you to revisit.

By the time we finished our feast the evening had cooled off, so we went inside for a drink and some dark chocolate, then to bed. Such a great first day!

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