I’ve seen some strange things on my journey through France. In Brittany, there were thatched cottages whose roofs reached the ground; a pair of British red phone boxes for sale at an antique shop; a DC10 plane in the garden of a roadside café. But nothing had prepared me for the bizarre sights in Biarritz.
My stroll through Biarritz first bought me to the Church of St Eugenie which had an interesting exhibition on the Turin Shroud, though I could find no direct link between the church and the shroud. Then, as I took the path to the Virgin on the Rock, I saw a pair of crocs, sitting in the middle of the beach and footprints heading to the sea. It didn’t take too long to find the owner, a grey-haired man desperately ploughing his way through the breakers. It was a chilly 7 degrees outside and I couldn’t imagine why he would want to go for a swim until I saw some dark heads bobbing further out. Perhaps he was swimming to some seals, I thought. No, it turned out to be even more crazy people out for a dip. Perhaps it was some local ritual to give respect to the Virgin?
Then I headed down to the beachfront to have my picnic lunch and watch the many surfers enjoying their Saturday. As I watched them jogging barefoot along the road and onto the sand, I realised that a high proportion were slim, long, blonde-haired, beach-babes. Not that I’m against women surfers, it’s just that all the surfers I’d seen along the coast so far had been men. As the surfers limbered up before hitting the waves a young man jumped from his yellow Renault 5 and ran across to a large rock which protruded from the beach. After waiting for a break in the waves he leapt onto the rock and climbed to the top. Then he proceeded to write something in what looked like chalk. Perhaps it was a dare, or maybe it was in protest to something. I never did find out. Meanwhile the pigeons and sparrows had descended for my crumbs and were joined by a soggy pair of plovers.
Finally, as I walked past the Casino back into town, I was stunned to see a couple sitting outside having coffee with their pets. Not all that surprising you may think, but along with their little dog was a deer. I managed to grab a quick photo as I was sure no-one would believe me but then I was too slow for the next photo opportunity as two young men wearing tuxedos travelled down the main road on skateboards. I wonder if the Casino has a valet service for that!