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Bassin d’Arcachon

Monday, 25. August 2008 22:45

Where to start about our camping adventures…..

How about the beginning? We somehow managed to fit two children into the Mom-mobile stuffed to the gills with camping equipment.

On the Way

It’s about a 9 hours drive to the Bassin d’Arcachon (which is near Bordeaux) from here, so we stopped midway at a town called Aragon, near Carcassonne, both going and coming back. We stayed at a hotel called La Bergerie. There’s not much to Aragon, but if you want a getaway with lots of hiking and mountain biking trails, this is the place to come.

We arrived at the campsite, Le Truc Vert at Lège-Cap-Ferret, first, to find that, contrary to Ali’s understanding, we did not have two sites right next to each other, but rather one site that we paid extra to have more people and another car on. We were going to be very cozy for the week.

We managed to get the tent up before it started raining. Ali and Paul weren’t so lucky!

Day One, Monday: It rained. We got settled. My air mattress wasn’t blown up enough so that by 3am I was sleeping on the ground.

Day Two, Tuesday: It rained — a lot! Ali and I went grocery shopping. Joe blew up the air mattress again, but I was sleeping on the ground by 4am.

Day Three, Wednesday: It rained, but not too much. It had cleared enough by late morning that we went to the beach on the Atlantic side where it was pretty windy. They actually have flags up to show where you can swim and there is a lifeguard on duty. They recommend that you don’t swim anywhere else because of the ocean currents. After having lunch, Paul and Tyler left for Tyler to take a nap and Joe went to cancel some bike reservations. As Ali and I were on the beach with Aiden, Julien and Sophia, the wind picked up and would have blown their beach tent away except that I was standing in it. We saw a mass exodus of people leaving the beach while trying to take down two tents and watch 3 children, the wind blowing all the while.

The funny thing is that many people stayed on the beach and I got the impression that we were entertainment for them. I later told Ali that I really felt that we were in a somewhat dangerous situation with the kids — the tent fell in on Aiden, Sophia kept wandering off — and that there were all sorts of people there just taking it all in. Joe found it incredibly amusing that all of this seemed to happen after the men were gone.

Oh, and I finally had to admit that my air mattress had a hole in it as I ended up on the ground again by 3am.

Day Four, Thursday: Ali and I took the babies to Bordeaux for the day. I’ll do a separate post on that trip, but I will say here that we had a nice time and the weather cooperated so that it only started raining after we left the city.

I bought a new air mattress, and then spent the whole night trying desperately to not roll downhill — did I mention that we were on a slant — and onto Julien.

Day Five, Friday: Nice weather! Yay! And a boat trip to the city of Arcachon.

Paul, Tyler, Sophia & Ali
Aiden, Paul, Tyler, Sophia and Ali on the boat to Arcachon.

Oyster Farms
Oyster farms in the Bassin d’Arcachon.

I let out a bit of the air in my mattress and actually got a somewhat decent night’s sleep.

Day Six, Saturday: Really nice weather. We rented bikes and trailers for the kids and biked down to the tip of the peninsula.

Phare du Cap Ferret
In the midst of all this biking, I got to carry Sophia up most of the steps of this lighthouse, in order to take these photos.

Bassin d'Arcachon & Dune du Pyla

Lège Cap Ferret

Day Seven, Sunday: Ali and Paul left a day early in order to make sure that they made it to their ferry on time (they drove and were taking the ferry back to England). After lunch with them, we took a nap and then headed out for a hike and then walk along the beach.

Walk to the Beach

Where Sophia discovered her footprints.


All in all, not the most successful trip, unfortunately. The weather wasn’t very cooperative with the rain and the cold. The rain was tough with Julien because he’s pretty mobile these days and that meant he couldn’t really move around as much as he wanted to and that he was muddy most of the time. I also wasn’t prepared for cold weather — I actually went out and bought a new jacket for Sophia and pants and a sweater for Julien. In addition, Julien is teething — three new teeth finally came through within the last 8 days. Sophia also seemed to be just a little too young to really enjoy most of the things that camping has to offer.

I’m not turned off from camping at all, but I think we’ll wait a couple of years before we try it again. At least when we do, we’ll have the tent already.

Category:France, Julien, Sophia, Travel, Travel: France | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica

Camping du Truc Vert

Saturday, 23. August 2008 14:37

P1010413, originally uploaded by alihemmings.

Paul took this photo of Sophia in the playground at our campsite. Clicking on it will take you to Ali’s photos of our trip.

More to come….

Category:France, Sophia, Travel, Travel: France | Comment (0) | Autor: Erica


Tuesday, 5. August 2008 14:21

Joe and I have talked about camping pretty much since we’ve been together, but we’ve never done it. Together, that is. Camping has a pretty big barrier to entry in terms of all of the equipment that you need. And if I’m being honest, it might also have something to do with the fact that I never planned it, so it never happened.

We both have fond memories of camping as children. Although, oddly, mine tend to be visions of camping trips gone awry. A stranger pointing a shotgun at our beloved cocker spaniel, Squeek, and shouting, “Call off your dog!” Setting up camp late at night only to discover in the morning that the tree overhead is swarming with bees. My Dad ordering everyone out of the truck because he’s afraid he will roll it on the hill while offroading. My brother and his friend having farting contests in their tent (thank goodness I didn’t have to share that one — hey Ryan, I’ve got loads more stories where that came from. How about we call a truce? I won’t write any more of them and you stop sending my kids really noisy toys.).

We have found, however, that we did somewhat different types of camping. Most of our camping revolved around pitching a tent somewhere in the desert (and later involved tent trailers and fifth wheels). Joe’s family did more camping in the mountains. It left us looking for different things when it came time to buy a tent. I’d look at a tent and say that it needed more ventilation. Joe would look at the same tent and declare it perfect because it would keep the warm air in. Both of us were pretty surprised at the selection of tents available here in France. We walked into the sporting goods store and were bombarded with ads for tents to use as a living area or the perfect size to fit your table — not even intended for sleeping. Many of the tents available had bedrooms and a living area. I think that they are bigger than the hotel we stayed at when we moved here!

We laughed and then did a bit more research. In most of France, it is illegal to just pitch a tent (Joe’s coworkers said it was because they don’t want the Gypsys making camp just anywhere). Most of the camping done here is car camping where you rent a space at a camp site, and most of the information that we found on car camping suggested buying a pretty large tent.

So we did it. We bought a 3-bedroom tent on ebay. And next week we will be going to the Bassin d’Arcachon to camp with my sister-in-law, Ali, and her family (I should mention that this was all her idea). We will be doing this with two 3-year-olds and two infants. It all seems a little crazy to me, but I’m hoping that it will be great fun, too.

Category:France, Travel, Travel: France | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica