The past several days in Bordeaux have been hot, really hot. During the day it has been over 90 degrees and at night the lows are in the mid 60s. Now I understand that if you contrast that with my home state of Alabama where the highs are 97 and lows are 79, Bordeaux doesn’t seem so bad but the key difference is air conditioning. We don’t have it in our apartment in Bordeaux. I have had to teach my son old lessons from my air conditioning fre own childhood. We have been sitting front of a fan in as little clothing as possible with a rotation of cold, wet towels that move from fridge to body as needed. Even with those things, sleep at night can be tough when it is this hot.
Bordeaux has a lovely little lake that up until this week has been difficult to enjoy because it has been so cold. Well my son and I jumped on the tram and headed out to that beautiful lake to enjoy the beach and water during the hot weather. It was perfect but as soon as we got back to the apartment we were hit by the blistering heat again. So, we decided to take more drastic action and jumped a train for Arcachon and the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
Arcachon is less than an hour from Bordeaux by train. Our swollen, heat soaked feet slowly made their way down the 5 minute walk to the tram station that would take us 4 stops to a train station that could remove us from the unmoving air. The sweet, sing-songy, pre-recorded, female voice announcing stops on the tram saying “Bordeaux St Jean Railway Station” seemed particularly exciting that day. It felt like we were escaping the heat just like I used to escape the summer heat by racing off to Lake Michigan in my car as a teenager.
I have described Arcachon and the Dunes of Pilat in previous blog posts. My son and I have been itching to get back to the dunes to climb and jump and play. Finally, we had our chance. The temperature was about 10 degrees cooler at the beach which made for a lovely beach temperature. We booked a hotel room about 100 meters from the beach and 600 meters from the train station so it would be easy for us to do the activities we had planned.
The first day we just enjoyed the beach outside of the hotel. We met a man who had made the most incredible sand sculptures by spray painting the sand. One of them was actually a partially eaten fish in which you could see the organs. His skill was undeniable.
It also happened to be the solstice when we arrived and Arcachon was celebrating with a music festival. There were bands on nearly every street corner, each with a unique style. The main pavilion had an instrument group playing many old favorites including You’re the One that I Want from Grease. To his dismay/amazement, I sang it to my son as we walked along the beach. He said “how do you know all of these words?”. It’s incredibly gratifying when I actually surprise him with the knowledge I possess since it happens so rarely. We dined at a coastal restaurant, me with my champagne and cod fish and him with Orangina and buttered noodles. During dinner a group of drummers marched their way down with a beat that just made me dance in my chair while my son use his utensils to play along. What a pair!
After a good and cool nights rest, we jumped on a bus back to the Dunes of Pilat. We climbed to the top and had a little picnic lunch over looking the Atlantic. My son jumped, rolled and ran all over the place until Sir Tiny Legs (as he calls himself) was ready to head back. On the bus ride back to Arcachon, he fell asleep and was sleeping so hard that when the bus came to an abrupt stop his head hit the seat in front of him. The funniest part was, he didn’t even wake up.
Each morning we ordered room service for breakfast. They brought us a tray full of pastries and other delicious offerings including my cafe au lait and his chocolat chaud. Being away from Bordeaux and having a scenic terrace for writing helped me finish up many languishing writing tasks that had been in my list of to dos for quite some time. Taking a train to any number of destinations will be one of the things I miss most about living in France. It’s incredibly liberating to hop on a train and be in a whole other place in less than an hour!