Martell:Guéthary;St Pée-sur-Nirvelle : France July 2018
Rain in the distance, France

We decided in the morning it was time to move on and explore another region. I mean these pretty villages in Corrèze are beautiful but we need new pastures. We decide to head to the coast and the Aquitaine region. 

we drive past boats barging and feel nostalgic

Of course no highway for us we take the smaller roads and thank goodness cos as we go through a town called Martel we see they have a market on. And this is a big one. We parked up and headed in to check it out. I read after that Martel is known for its 7 towers, had I known I would have made Chris visit each one. 

Martel is in the Lot region and its speciality is truffle and walnuts so this was a really good farmers and local produce market. Fruit of the day, sweet melon, which we bought. Vegetables were big and beautiful and we couldn’t resist a marrow. And then some cheese, a lovely creamy soft cheese with a truffle filling. Chris has been eyeing the Foie for so long but really not sure what to buy and it’s quite expensive. This time we saw 2 lovely pieces for €7 and we decided to try it. There was a lot of sausage and duck products and then knives. knives are big in this area. I suppose you need them to cut the sausages! We really could’ve bought a trolley full but we are getting wiser now and we realize you end up wasting. So we left just before lunch and decided to get a few kilometres under our belt before we stopped for lunch. 

Somewhere along the way in the Lot-en-Garonne area, we found a small village with easy parking under trees. We had the plat du jour in the only restaurant in town. A nice generous helping of pork fillet and vegetable, salad and potatoes. And then we were back on the road. 

We chose as our sleeping spot a town called Casteljaloux. Just a random choice with a fairly reasonable municipal camp spot close to town. We tend to choose these as then it’s easy to walk into the centre and have a drink or an ice cream or in this case Both! 

The town of Casteljaloux is well known for its thermal spa and treatments. But it’s far too hot to even think of warm water. It also had an Olympic size pool next to the campsite, but the French have a funny rule about public pools or any pools actually. Men may ONLY wear swimming trunks, you know those tight underwear looking items. No board shorts allowed at all and the rule is super strict. So that rules Chris out as no ways is he buying a pair of “budgie huggers”

Our dinner late that very very hot evening was the Foie quickly pan-fried and served with bread and salad using those lovely tomatoes. And some sweet sweet melon for dessert. 

The next morning we set off as early as we can manage, never seems to be before 10am but I think this time it was 9.44! We decided to hit the highway so we could get across to the coast as quickly as possible otherwise it was going to take too long. It was still about a 3hr drive. 

A slight problem we encountered on the coast is that they really don’t want you to park anywhere except a campsite. This is unlike the rest of France with aire’s everywhere. And seeing the beautiful coastline it does make sense as the land slopes sharply down to the sea so there are not many promenades and flat space for car parks. We chose Guéthary which is just between Biarritz and St Jean de Luz. It’s a small village, very small with a huge surfing culture( as most of the coast here is) the parking was a nightmare as TomTom took us to a car park with a height restriction! Lots of parsleyspursuit harsh words were uttered and it was my fault of course because I wanted to come to the coast( huh!) 

Anyway let’s skip past the nasty stuff, we eventually found a spot just about in the next village and walked back. We sat down at a lovely corner restaurant with a nice view of the people parading past to the beach and had a bit of Lunch. Not our best one but not bad and the fresh fish was delicious. (and the cold crip rosé, even better)We took a lovely stroll along the beach walk promenade and explored the houses along the waterfront, which looked pretty expensive and beautiful.It is also our introduction to the French basque style of the white houses with either red or green shutters.

Now we had a problem, there were no campsites remotely close to the village. All of them are out along the coast and are resort like with lots of pitches and swimming pools and activities. Not that we don’t like that but they are expensive and for one night stays not that convenient. So after a little research, we head back inland to St Pée-sur-Nirvelle. 

It has 2 claims to fame, one is that is it also part of the “french camino” and secondly and more exciting for them I’m sure is that the Tour-de France goes through it. The lady at the tourism office was very helpful and we found a campsite just outside of town. Our plan was to walk back in for supper but laziness overtook us and we walked over to the Intermarche instead for a stick of bread, and it was bread, meat & cheese for dinner instead.

Dark and stormy at campsite in St Pée-sur-Nirvelle

That night there was a huge thunderstorm and it seemed to rain for ages. Thank goodness we have learnt our lesson(read here if you interested) – no canopies were damaged in the making of this post!

One thought on “The Journey from Martel to the Sea at Guéthary, exploring Basque Country..

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