If you don’t know Neil, then there’s something you need to know about him. The guy likes to eat. His favourite quote is Nigella’s “never knowingly under-catered”. His biggest fear in life is that we don’t have enough food. Every Christmas eve he visits the supermarket three times to make sure we have EVERY thing we can possibly need, in abundance so we will survive the next two days with only a Tesco Express open to sustain us.
So when we woke at the airbnb in the middle of know-where with NOTHING in our fridge. We had food, but not milk, or butter. I woke up and Neil was gone. I knew where he was. He had gone to the shops! Rather than just give Hugh a packet of crisps for breakfast and aim the car towards civilisation he went hunting/gathering for the patisserie that exists in his imagination. It’s got a pink facade, cursive typeface on the storefront and a bountiful supply of fresh baked goods such as cakes, pies, artisan breads.
He was gone 90 minutes on this futile away mission and returned with the two most miserable baguettes you had ever seen and a bag of individually wrapped pain au chocolat’s that made France’s soul weep. Neil looked pretty crushed so I wasn’t going to berate him too much why he thought two baguettes and 6 pain au chocolats were were an appropriate quantity for two adults and a toddler.
We grumbled about France, got in the car and headed south. We made a quick stop in Le Mans. Neil goes there every year for his man trip to the racing so it was nice to see all the places he talks about. One thing good about France is they are very dog friendly. We found a restaurant that allows dogs. Poppy was surprisingly well behaved and sat in her bed under the table for the entire meal.
Whilst in Le Mans, me and my dad were texting. He was driving back to the UK from south of Spain. We asked each other where we were and he said “just north of Le Mans”! We were on the same road going the opposite direction.
Neil had booked an Ibis somewhere near Futuroscope. We weren’t going to make the same mistake as yesterday so we ate big at lunch time and stopped at a shop to get something small we can eat at the hotel. Decided to be French and have a baguette and cheese.
To say the Ibis was shite was an understatement! Ok, it was what it was, if it were cheaper than it would be tolerable but it was very basic! It smelt like beer and disappointment. And we were surrounded by lots of nice restaurants so got to look at them whilst chewing on our baguette and cheese.
Next day we leave early and head for Biarritz. We picked this from a book Neil’s mum gave us about European cities. As we got closer it got warmer. The clouds parted, the thermostat went up.
When we arrived we had to double check we had got the price right. Maybe it was the drastic comparison from the last two days accommodation but we were now in prime real estate, with a stunning view and other people. When we met with the Airbnb host she said we were lucky that we had arrived off season so the prices were low but it just happened to be 25 degrees celsius.
The apartment was a a converted hotel, reasonably large. It was on a tall peninsula that overlooked the beaches and the lighthouse. Once we checked in we ran towards the nearest bar!
Best bit about Biarritz, is they have Neil’s patisserie that exists in his imagination. It also has the perfect market with lots of yummies. The downside is that everything is shut most of the day!
We were reluctant to leave Biarritz. Neil liked going to his boulangerie in the morning and we liked eating our baguettes on the beach like all the natives. Everything was in walking distance and EVERYONE has a little dog. You see the occasional regular sized dogs and big dogs but little dogs seem to outnumber them vastly. Little dogs have fallen out of fashion in Britain. Strangely it seems it’s the same people who criticise celebrities for having small dogs as fashion accessories who have some mean comment about a little dog. Poppy gets her fair share of hassle back home for not being a “proper” dog but here she was accepted and loved by everyone.
We reluctantly left and headed back inland towards the Pyrenees.