We had initially planned to head straight to San Sebastian but Biarritz had improved our mood towards France slightly. This happens to us EVERY time we come to France, as we stated in this post, it’s like a bad ex we keep sleeping with, remembering only the good times and forgetting that we don’t know how to function under their authoritarian retail opening hours.
Those who know me will know I’ve got a side hustle, I do Match Betting to make extra pennies. And by pennies I mean I’ve made thousands of pounds since I started a year ago (humble brag). The Cheltenham races were approaching and bookies go crazy with offers and there’s lots of money to be made. What I needed was somewhere with good wifi where I could sit for four days straight and concentrate. We were also a bit fatigued from lots of stops and would all benefit from being settled somewhere for a week.
We also have a daily budget for accommodation and if we can get something cheaper for a while it means we can afford more luxury when in popular locations. We searched airbnb for a wide area around the Basque region of France and Spain. Neil spotted a modern and clean looking house. Only downside was it was in the middle of rural France. But cheapest one yet at half our budget.
It took us forever to find it. Our phones wouldn’t get a signal and we resorted to knocking on a random house asking for help. The kindly escorted us!
We were blown away by this house. The airbnb profile pictures don’t do it justice. It was decorated to a very high standard and with all the amenities we needed, views of the Pyrenees, It even has a swimming pool!
The nearest town was much closer than we anticipated and is like a market town. It has everything we need accept for the draconian retail opening rules. Want to shop between the hours of 13:00 – 15:00? Non! Which is crazy because those are literally the only hours we have been sober enough to travel to a shopping centre.
Whilst I was making money with my gambling habit, Neil was exploring with Hugh, buying baguettes, wine, cheese and generally transforming into a Frenchman. The owner of this house has all the cooking utensils he likes and I’m pretty sure he will make an offer on this place in the next week!
I had a successful four days at Cheltenham (from behind my screen), walked away with £500 and left the house for the first time five days later!
I had seen nearby some caves where they found evidence of people living 10,000 – 80,000 years ago! I really wanted to go so we paid it a visit. It opened at 2pm, we left at midday because we had to get lunch first. By the time we got there it was 12:50. Could we find one bloody shop or restaurant?? We managed to find a boulangerie. This is what Neil came back with.
Let me set the scene. We are in are car. We have NO utensils. We are parked in the middle of nowhere. Neil has bought two baguettes, a tin of tuna, a tin of pate and two large packets of crisps (only one photographed!).
We had a bit of a ding dong over this. Neil defending himself that this was all there was. Why would you buy it all though!!?
This was our convo
Sam: Why have you bought all of this?
Neil: It’s all they had
Sam: What are you planning to do with it!?
Neil: We can have pate and hugh can have the tuna
Sam: An entire tin of tuna? an entire tin of pate? TWO MASSIVE PACKS of crisps!? TWO baguettes!? How are you going to drain the tuna?
Neil: What would you have got?
Sam: I’m just going to eat a bit of this baguette
Neil: Dry!? (He would have sounded less disgusted if I had suggested rubbing it against the asphalt for seasoning)
Neil then cracks open the pate which we kid-you-not looked, smelt and tasted like cat food (was probably cat food). It was so bad we had to keep it outside the car until we found a bin. We all ate a dry baguette and one bag of crisps. The tuna never happened.
Onto the caves! We couldn’t really understand the tour guide but could make out that this was ancient (millions of years old). The etchings in the rocks were very cool. Apparently this cave was a bustle of activity, starting as a dwelling for neanderthals and then a hub for early humans. They believe that there was a trade route in the mountains of the Pyrenees with evidence of a barter system. This place would have been busy with people trading art, tools and food.
They probably all died out when a ban on shopping during most daylight hours was introduced across France.
Now it’s Sunday and we leave tomorrow for San Sebastian in Spain. Neil is now in a settled routine and does his usual trip to the shops to gather the days food. Also the car needs a thorough clean. We thought we were ahead, but as usual, France pushes back.
Everything is closed ALL DAY on Sundays. Everything except the fucking boulangies and their fucking baguettes!! Guess what we’re having today?
Our next first world problem. There’s not a person in sight to wash our car! (this is a vision of post brexit britain btw!). Neil has to get some change for a car wash, he goes back to the bread house and asks, in poor French. The shop keeper was very abusive to Neil and told him to get lost. Apparently Neil tried to explain by waving his arms saying “MON – EY!!” and pointing at the till!
In the end Neil had to break €10 on the only thing you can possibly buy in France on a sunday……
That’s it. We’re never coming to France again. … probably… maybe?
BTW, as I always get asked. Match betting isn’t really gambling. Its a very low risk way of making tax free income. There are plenty of stories about how people make thousands a month. I’m not one of them but I can make hundreds when I put the time in. I use a service called Profit Accumulator (full disclosure: Affiliate link) which is literally the idiots guide and spoon feeds you what you need to know. I’ve used it a year now and it is superb.