Our June trip to France had begun with ideas of touring the west coast. The weather, however, had other ideas and forecasts of storms rather put us off that idea. Looking for an escape route we considered visiting Marciac but the forecast there threatened grêle [hail] and we’ve seen what a mess that can make of a caravan and, therefore, presumably a motor van. So, we gave that a miss, too.
Here we were actually on the west coast and looking for a way to escape the madness of Bordeaux roads during the Rugby world cup. South from the Bassin d’Arcachon should do the trick, towards Marciac. Let’s give it another go.
Marciac is well known for a jazz festival, I think in August. I like a spot of jazz but I don’t think I’d cope well with the mass of humanity associated with it. Now, though, things should be quieter. We drove down with our replenished AdBlue tank and started deciding where to stay.
Frodo was very nearly brave again. There is an aire de camping car literally just on the outskirts of Marciac town centre. It’s a free one so we plugged the coordinates in to the satnav and found it. It’s a tarmac car park, though admittedly a tarmac car park with electric hook-up points and a Flot Bleu point to buy tokens with which to kick them into life. We arrived early in the afternoon. There seemed to be a motor home being used permanently and, nearby, an apparently abandoned car carefully spreading itself over two spaces. At that point we looked like the only tourer. This did not fill us with confidence. Besides, whilst I could stroll into town from here was I really going to want to cook my dinner and eat it in a car park?
No. For the sake of €19 we could park in the nearby bona fide campsite on grass, albeit covered in autumnal fallen leaves, get out our table, chairs and BBQ (this is not permitted in some aires) and cook and eat in much more pleasant surroundings. Such stopping points serve a purpose but I remain a little bemused about folks spending £70K on a motorhome, only to scrimp on where to park it.
The following morning when we actually went back to see the town there were three touring units in the aire making it look a lot less seedy. One unit had its table and chairs on the tarmac outside the van but I can’t say that that looked any more appealing. We used the aire to park and go and see the town centre and exchanged a greeting. For the most part the motor vanners appear to be a friendly bunch, often waving at each other as they pass on the road. It reminded me of the old days of VW Beetle divers giving each other a “V” salute as they passed.
Marciac is a bit like Mirepoix in that it has a central main square surrounded by ancient arched cloisters on four sides. You can’t move far without seeing some reference to the renowned jazz festival. Having wandered around the square we sat in the local gossip shop for a coffee.
We’ve seen Marciac, albeit without the jazz.