We’re off on vacation tomorrow – hurrah. Over the following two days we’re driving to the start of the Tour de France in the Vendee by way of Maçon and Saint-Etienne-de Chigny. We’ve stayed in the former a number of times already and have a favourite restaurant which we’ll be patronising once again. The latter is relatively new territory for us though it’s in the Loire Valley, not far from Tours and Chateau de Villandry an area we visited back in 2016.
We drive in short stages so that my beloved doesn’t drive more than about 4 hours each day. Our initial destination will be yet another trip down memory lane as we’re staying in La Baule, a place my beloved and I last visited in our teens. It will have changed out of all recognition but I have vivid recollections of our holiday.
I was just sixteen on what was to be my last family holiday with my parents and sisters. I’d really only agreed to go with them because I was still recovering from a bout in hospital. Unusually, my parents didn’t book anywhere to stay in La Baule before leaving to drive down there assuming, as it was July rather than August, we’d be fine.
The ferry trip followed a similar pattern. My father and I enjoyed lunch on board while my mother and two sisters stayed up top to stave off seasickness. They had more company than us. We stopped overnight on the way to La Baule, arriving at our destination the following day at lunchtime. We ate at a lovely Brasserie and then my father did the rounds of the hotels, and tourist office. No room at the inn, anywhere!
Sheree to the rescue. Armed with my better-than-average school girl French, I managed to find us a two-week rental in a lovely 3-bedroomed apartment just a stone’s throw from the seafront. The only fly in the ointment was that said rental didn’t start until the following day. We all spent an uncomfortable night in the car before heading for heavenly coffee and croissants at the same Brasserie.
Of course, my mother was none too pleased to be staying in a flat because it wasn’t really a holiday for her. Just same old, same old but in a different location. My father ensured we ate out most of the time and, if we ate in, we enjoyed the produce from the local traiteur. Needless to say my father never ever went anywhere again without making a booking beforehand.
I have fond memories of the place, its wonderful restaurants and beach and me having to order everything for everyone in French. I have no idea what my beloved’s vacation was like but he too seems to have enjoyed his family holiday there.
My beloved rather enjoys Thalassotherapy treatments, particularly since he broke his leg last year. Although we’ll be watching the first four stages of the Tour de France, I’m sure we’ll find time to visit the hotel spa. Thereafter, the Tour heads north and we head south. Our next stop is Bordeaux, a town we’ve previously merely passed through. This time we’ll be spending five days in town but I’m sure we’ll also find time to head to the coast at Arcachon.
Then we’re driving to my beloved Basque country. Most years we have at least one, if not two trips there but, the last couple of years, I’ve had to settle for a single trip. We’ll firstly spend five nights in Saint Jean de Luz, an old favourite of ours, where we’ll be staying at another hotel with Thalassotherapy facilities which is right on the beach.
Our trip ends with a two-week rental in an apartment in San Sebastian which overlooks Concha beach and has a much prized car parking spot. In between, we’ll be enjoying two days in Rioja where we’ll be sampling and purchasing a few bottles to bring back with us.
No holiday is complete without my beloved flying off somewhere for a business meeting/exhibition. This holiday is no exception. He’ll be spending four days of our first week in San Sebastian back in London at a Dental meeting! But I’ll hardly notice he’s not there as I’ll be on familiar territory – I know San Sebastian like the back of my hand – and able to do exactly what I want, when I want. Now, let’s get packing.