I leave the camp site and head back to the road through the dunes I found last night. The waves are smaller but still messy. The wind is still onshore. I hope the waves are better at the main beach. I go via the tourist information office, and use the free internet connection I found in the car park.
I get to the main beach. The waves are a little better. I go for a surf, but injury my leg badly when one of the fins on my board digs into my calf muscle whilst diving through a big wave. It gets worse quickly. I decide to drive back down the coast towards Les Sables-d’Olonne. My surfing guide book says there are several good beaches there.
On the road I stop at a spot where there are several cars. It is a lovely place with about 2km of forest to walk through before one gets to the beach. This is perhaps too much with my bad leg, but I pack a little picnic and walk to the beach. The walk seems to help my leg. The beach is massive and practically deserted. It has a couple of massive concrete objects, which can surely only be left over defences from the war. I also notice a few people, especially naked men! I realise that this is a nudist beach. There are a few couples, and some clothed people also. I take a spot further back in the dunes, eat my picnic, read my guide book and work on my tan. I have developed a t-shirt tan, which I am keen to get rid off. When I walk back to the van I realise I have taken the wrong path. The forest path I am walking has a steep incline, which I did not walk on earlier. There where a lot of turnings and I have clearly taken a wrong one. I realise that the tread on my slaps is very distinctive. I cannot see the same tread going in the opposite direction, so I know am I on the wrong path. I go back and see my tread going the opposite way on another path. My boy scout knowledge, and my slaps (Pampy’s sand slippers to anyone who knows them) saves the day. I get back to the van and fix the bumper I ripped off when I was parking, I caught it on a wood post I did not see.
I drive to La Rochelle. I think ‘La Rochelle’ was the name of the French text book we used at my secondary school (Richard Lander School). When talking to my mum the other day she said that my nephew had started at the new Richard Lander School, and was enjoying it. It sounds like the new school is a lot better than the old one, which I assume has been, or will be pulled down very soon. I didn’t enjoy my time at that school, and won’t be sad to see it gone. I wish I had done better at French though!
Whilst driving into the centre of La Rochelle I take a wrong turn and find myself in a big car park. It is also the official motorhome rest area, which is perfect. There are many expensive motorhomes parked around the edge, so I slide the van in next to an old Renault van, to try and blend in a bit. I do my jobs, have something to eat and head into town for a quick wander. The first streets I walk through remind me so much of Truro, my home town, on an autumn evening. It is a strange feeling. The town has retained its old charm, but it is pretty quiet. I toy with the idea of having a beer in a bar, but settle against it and wander back to the van.
I’m not really sure why I am in La Rochelle. I really enjoyed the holiday like atmosphere of the last few days. The weather forecast is good for the next few days, but the surf forecast is not. Although La Rochelle has a beach, I think there are islands that shelter the surf from La Rochelle. My Rough Guide guidebook says that this is the prettiest seaside town in France. I’m not sure what I am hoping to get from being here. I will check into the hostel tomorrow, which is suggested to be as cheap as most campsites (€13). Maybe I’ll meet some people and have a few beers. I’m hoping to top up my tan on the beach again.