Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Banc d'Arguin

This was on these days that you remember for a long time. A day that remind me so much of what I liked in France, and a day that show me the bright side of the sun.

The classic question you are facing when you grew up in Bordeaux is "Are you Ocean or Bassin? ". In plain English the question would be, Do you prefer going to the Ocean or going to the "Bassin d'Arcachon" (Arcachon Bay). All my life I did not know what to choose, someday I would prefer going to the Ocean over spending the day at the bay, but last Monday I really enjoy being a Bassin-lover and totally forgot about the big waves, sand, desert beach and chocolat-chantilly waffle you usually do, eat, watch when you dress up you Ocean-lover outfit.

A traditional Arcachon Bay boat called "Pinasse". The bottom is flat to be able to go anywhere in the bay.

Last Monday, Mum, Step-father and myself spent the full day at the Bassin. We took off really early that morning, 10 AM (afterall we all are in vacation), and drove in 2 cars to the Grand Piquey pier. At Claouey we stopped by and bought a whole chicken for lunch time. We reach the boat around 11:30 AM and started after some hesitation, floating to the sandbank of Arguin ("Banc d'Arguin").

The Oysters' parks under the water, and seagulls standing on sticks that delimiter the parks.

The sandbank is in front of the biggest dune in Europe (Dune de Pilat) from which people do some hanggliding over the Atlantic ocean or one of the biggest forest in France (ForĂȘt des Landes). The sandbank is moving from day to day and should be approached with care and localisation-efficient equipments (sonar, GPS tracker, maps). But the hard work was worth the price. We arrived in the middle of the inside of the Banc, and anchored the boat close to a swimming pool like area, blue lagoon, close to all the oysters' parks. We were only a handful of people on this massive desert sand island, and we had some space around. We eat lunch on the boat. The coffee did not challenge us at all and we crashed for a quick 2 hours nap, hearing seagull songs and the lullaby sound of the sea on the boat. The boat was big enough to handle each of us lying in a corner. It was probably there that I caught my sunburn, but I did not care, everything was just perfect there. I was happy to seat on a boat, smelling my sea and watching my ocean. I was just happy.

The Dune du Pilat.

After some laughs we decided to be a bit more adventurous and we all jumped in the sandbank. We crossed it and reached the ocean and the waves on the other side. We followed the seagull's footstep to the ocean and, like Robinson on his island, we saw the ocean with different eyes. The ocean was wild and virgin, just for us. We were the first human beings there. JL, my step father, realised after some baths and some more sun burning that we had to run back to the boat otherwise the tide would have forced us to spend an extra 12 hours. I did not mind staying there for an extra day, I was quite happy there, but we all rushed back. We spend 10 minutes moving the boat stuck in the sand, and finally put it back on track, if I could say. That was the only 10 minutes of exercices that day, but what a thrill ! We flew back the few miles that separate the desert-beach-of-no-where called usually by the local Le Banc, to the pier in less than 30 minutes.

Have you notice that if you want to be cool and local you just have to shorter all the names and you become just like them? "Banc d'Arguin" becomes "Banc", "Bassin d'Arcachon" becomes, "Bassin" and "Bassin" becomes "Bas". Maybe "Bas" and could be change into "B", and "B" into " ".

The view from my cousin place.

Anyway, I am digressing, as usual, have you notice how easy it is to digress when you write a blog! In my case .............. but we reach the port at sunset, and took our time to adjust to the ground. The day full of sun and laziness was not over. We drove back to the Andernos, to visit my cousin, oyster farmer. My sister M and her boyfriend O spend the last 2 hours trying to make him open his oyster-bar in front of the ocean at the end of the pier. He did not want to do anything still hangover from the night before at 5PM ! So we helped ourself and open all the remaining oysters, drank some white wine and ate some paté, while our cousin explaind to us his entire night in details. It was still sunset and the sky was pink. My happy day had a final point on it. I was delighted by the taste of the sea in my mouth. We drove back with my mum, not saying a word, and listening to Ayo, Down on my Knees full blast cutting the night with our salty memories.

This was Monday 21st of August, and it was my Happy Day.

When was your last Happy Day?