September 4, 2011

Pyrenees Tour: Bayonne

Close to the Spanish border, by the 3rd century Bayonne was a Roman town. By the 13th century it was an important port city.  The city retains its medieval center with twisting narrow streets and its cathedral on the top of a slight hill above them. It is beautiful and I could easily spend more than just this one day here. It is only perhaps 5 miles from the Atlantic.

Last night's dinner was shrimp, scallops, brandade, with another fish preparation on the plate. It was delicious, the restaurant tiny and on one of the quais in town. It is named A Table, seats 16 inside and another 8 outside. I do like to eat, but don't enjoy choosing restaurants or the hub-bub of the big places I've seen so often in tourist areas. It was perfect and I enjoyed talking with Claire, the owner. She practiced her English, I practiced my French. Ate there both nights, so I will surely have to return to try traditional Basque food.

 It's good that our label, as humans, reads "wash in warm water, air dry." Most of the day it rained, sometimes hard, but in the warm weather no one seemed to much mind.
I spent the morning searching for CO2 cannisters for my pump. The airlines won't transport them and so far as I know airport gift shops do not sell them. The internet shows a bike shop in Bayonne so I didn't go into Toulouse to get one. The bike shop didn't sell any supplies, only a few bikes.  I will rely on the manual version of my pump if I get a flat.

By about 3:00 it dried up and I rode the bike path to the Atlantic, about 6 very flat miles. From a distance I thought the ocean was full of very large seabirds in a loose flock, but it turned out to be surfers. Great to put my feet into this side of the Atlantic and look across towards home. The water is a bluer color, and is warmer, than I've ever experienced in Delaware, much less New England. Lovely and a perfect official start to my tour.

The hotel room at La Cote Basque is large, plain and clean, with a super shower ... perfect. The staff is very helpful and kind and the breakfast buffet filling. And it is not expensive. A hard-to-find combination in a city. But the wifi doesn't work in my room, which is too bad for me. It seems to work only on the first floor and there is no lobby, though there is a bench and the staff very kindly opened the dining room so I could use a table. More difficult for me, the hotel is right on the busy square at the train station and it is very, very noisy, and tonight there is not yet any possibility of sleep. It's late or rather, it's early morning. Too bad: sleeping, along with cycling and eating is high on my list of things to do.

That was written at 1:00 in the morning and the noise didn't let up until after 4:00. I might have slept more on the plane.



  1. Bayonne looks beautiful! Much like Paris in the Spring! I'm glad you got your feet in the Atlantic but sorry your sleep was non-existent.

    Looking forward to more posts!


  2. As long as your next hotel is far from any train station, it can only get better from here on. Bonne Route!

  3. Oh my goodness it looks so pretty! Im jealous that you are by water! I miss you :) Have fun!

    Love, Peyton


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