After Nantes, we took a windy route along the coast, alternating between rocky holiday towns and marshes used by the salt industry and oyster farms. We headed for lunch at La Rochelle. I’m running low on adjectives to describe some of the good french towns, but i guess elegant and salty would do it for La Rochelle. The old city has great markets and boutiquey shops and the waterfront bobbles with ships in the sun.
The scenery as we went further south changed to the typical French atlantic type of pine covered dunes behind long straight sandy beaches, that continues all the way down to Biarritz. We camped alone for the night in one of them, and had a nice (probably illegal) campfire on the beach while a fat full moon rose up in a starry sky. We had a private ceremony where we burnt the remaining cheque books from visa-side of the business we sold.
The next morning we crossed the gironde in a pricey car ferry, that great downward cut in the side of France. On the south side of the bay are the world famous bordeux wineries of the Medoc and haute-medoc, that have lodged in my consciousness thanks to James Bond ordering the Chateaux Lafitte Rothchild in one of his many movies. On the hottest day so far, we piloted the van down small laneways beween row after row of ripening grapes, in a countryside dotted with chateux and villages. We stopped at a village fete of sorts at a small village, where the locals sat on long trestle tables listening to a one man band belt out synth french pop. Seeing us empty handed, some of the woman quickly put a cake and glass of rose in front of us. It was saturday, and most of the Vinyards were closed to visitors, but we stopped at a local wineseller who was happy for me to taste the lot of them. i noticed at the BYO fete that most of the locals had plastic bottles of wine, instead of labled bottles, and it became clear that it is far cheaper to buy the wine from great steel vats than by the bottle, though I did splash out on a local Grand Cru bottle as gift for some friends of ours. Suitable refreshed, we continued to the city of Bordeux.
After parking it soon became apparent that there was some kind of music festival going on, with bands of every description playing in the streets and squares of the old city. Reggae, techno, military brass bands and some remarkably good indie rock bands were all in the mix, so karina and i got into the swing of things with a glass of punch and dancing in a night I’ve only vague memories off. I remember us crawling into our van that was like a sauna after the heat of the day, just as a big thunderstorm hit and thankfully cooled things down as we drifted off to sleep. We both nursed fair hangovers the next day.