Those who are aware of Franco and Francine’s preferences might consider them to be somewhat out of their normal habitat – and they’d be right. Though we now are in an area known as La Côte Sauvage (the Wild Coast), which might sound like us, the name is a little misleading. About 100yds down the road from our campsite is a disastrous looking place called “Luna Park” with a water slide and a roller-coaster towering over the surrounding trees. Almost opposite that is another campsite with it’s own water slide. On this road alone there are no fewer than seven campsites and three quad bike rental establishments. One of the campsites is even a year-round nudist campsite – now there’s a mind expanding concept. [Ed: Most other things would shrink!] Then, of course, there’s all the other roads. Though, mercifully, the French never seem to sink to the depths of a classic English seaside town with tacky amusement arcades and kiss-me-quick (embrace-moi-vite?) hats, the description does begin to resemble something out of one of Franco’s nightmares.
Here’s the first thing, however – we’re out of season. You can tell we’re out of season for several reasons:
- Luna Park is closed (phew!);
- the campsites are not full to bursting;
- nobody is screaming about on quad bikes;
- some of the speed limits are not in force until 15th June.
What? Yes, the road into La Palmyre has speed limit signs which are in force only between 15th June and 15th September. I know the UK sometimes has seasonal parking restrictions but seasonal speed limits is an interesting concept. The trick to maintaining sanity is clearly to avoid this date range.
Secondly, our particular campsite is just about the finest camping aire naturelle site that we’ve ever seen. There are no pitches, as such, just oceans of space and loads of electricity hook-ups. I’ve never seen this site in season (and I wouldn’t want to) but now, in low season, we have a section amongst some trees all to ourselves. The nearest other unit, a Dutch tent, must be at least 50yds away (you can just see it far left of the photo). This is so peaceful, it’s one of those campsites one actually looks forward to returning to after a day out.
A third redeeming feature is the fact that, beyond the towns themselves, La Côte Sauvage itself is actually quite wild and rural. There are some very well thought-out cycle tracks just inland of the sand dunes through the coastal pine and broad-leafed woodland as well as across some of the surrounding reclaimed marsh land. It is actually a sensible destination at this time of year for those who like to explore the countryside on a bicycle observing the wildlife.
Unfortunately today has been a little unsettled and, though we managed a ride, most of the wildlife exhibiting the equivalent of a heartbeat was keeping itself hidden. C’est la vie! The botanical specimens don’t move, though, so there was something to keep us distracted.