Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Random Tandem, Soulac-sur-mer (and occasional nudity)

I had the best day I think I’ve ever had working on this ship today. We docked in Le Verdon, a port on the northern tip of the Medoc, 2 hours north by car from Bordeaux.
However, a 20 minute shuttle ride away, was Soulac-sur-Mer, a beautiful coastal resort- town. Amazingly, it doesn’t get a mention in many of the travel guides, which is perhaps why it’s so relaxed, tranquil and unspoilt.
As soon as we saw this sign, we took it as a good omen, and went to meet Eric, with his cycles. We rented a tandem bike, not one of the 25 euro-per-hour competition bikes (we’re first-timers at tandem-biking so thought it’d be a little over-adventurous) but this rather sexy blue number, for the bargain price of 14 euros for the whole day. And the chain only jumped off the pedal mechanism twice!
We were going to cycle back up north to Le Verdon, but on Eric’s recommendation (the shop-owner, not my boyfriend) we headed the other way, along a cycle path further south, to explore the kilometres of beach beyond Soulac-sur-Mer.
But first, we stocked up on provisions, as I’d pulled my “I want a picnic and you promised as it’s our one year anniversary” card. There was a great local market and charcuterie on the main street, where we bought a pain rustique, two types of cheese, cherry tomatoes, and some slices of pretty much all the meats you see in this picture plus a 5 euro bottle of chilled white wine, to go with our Italian pesto from Nice, our oil from Lucca as well as our vinegar from Eze. Pretty awesome-sounding picnic, right? A swift cappuccino in this cafe (why the squirty cream on coffee, why!) and we were at the get-go.
We cycled along our path under the gorgeous sunshine, breeze in our face, past camping grounds –which are new to me, I’m trying to see as many as I can before I actually GO camping with Eric in Montreal, in a month’s time- and parks, until we decided to stop at Le Negade, a huge beach with nothing and nobody, and I mean nobody, around. Take a look at this for freedom to set your towel down!

I love this picture of Eric, I forget what was said to make him laugh, but he looks so sweet when he does!
We set up our picnic, as you see, with our tandem in view (Eric the shop-keeper forgot to give us a lock, but he did give us a nifty elastic to strap my Furla bag, and Eric’s backpack to the back wheel-guard) and ate our lunch, getting ever-so-slightly tipsy on wine. And very sunburnt, me all down my left side, but I'm presently trying to overcome it so I'll think of nicer things. About an hour later, I looked to either side of us, and then out to where the sea meets the beach, and I saw three couples, all sans vetements… This was my first nudist beach experience, and here I was, TOTALLY overdressed in my bikini!
Perhaps it was the wine, perhaps it was the beautifully unspoilt beach –no cigarette butts, no cans of sprite, no beer bottles, just sand- perhaps it was the fact that we were sharing the whole beach with only 6 other people, but reader, I took all my clothes off! Yes, and so did Eric, and we walked to the water hand-in-hand which was really cold, and swam in the clear water, with three large black fish darting past us for about 30 seconds.
Back at our beach-spot, we stayed naked, which seemed like the right thing to do, until we decided to leave, about 3pm. No cameras were pointed during this part of our day!
We cycled back the way we had come, stopping at another beach, L'Amelie, which had cafes and I even asked where the toilets were in French while Eric got the beers in! This beach was not a nudist one, but Eric and I weren't stopping anyway, except to take these pictures (I sorted this one out in the native tongue as well, yep, two times!) have a brewski and move on.

L'Amelie also has a park trail, which we stopped to walk down and collect pine cones, (or pommes de pin dontcha know) I like this one because it was still clinging to it's branch fearlessly. Here's Eric stretching for the best ones to complement the shrine, and here's me stashing them on the back of the bike.

The fact that we had the whole place to ourselves made me feel like striking a pose and dancing on top of a dune.

Back at Soulac, we went to check out this basilica after returning the tandem, over 1000 years old (the basilica, not the bike!), and lit another candle. In 70AD Sainte Veronique was buried there, and apparently she may have founded it sometime in the 1st century AD.

Eric and I walked back down to the beachfront in Soulac, and with another bottle of the same wine, he read aloud to me, a letter to say thanks for a year of happiness together, which I loved.


Ex-Shammickite said...

Congratulations of your skinny-dip in the sea. That must have felt wonderful. I'm a bit leery about taking it all off, there are places on me that have never seen the sunshine and I don't think my pale British skin would be very happy to be exposed to the sizzling rays of the sun (red hair and freckles ya know.... the worst kind for burning!).
Your day out sounds super duper, keep the posts coming, I am enjoying coming with you on your adventures.

Anonymous said...

Une bonne bouteille de vin, quelques morceaux de nourriture, un petit bout de plage tranquille, quand tu es là, le bonheur n'est pas dûr à trouver...
Merci, je t'aime...