France, here we go again. Last time I visited France was eighteen years ago on my first interrail trip through Europe. It was very exciting, being sixteen and doing the first big trip without parents. With two friends I was traveling through France, Portugal and Spain then. 4 weeks full of excitement.
This time I chose an interrail ticket again and started from Germany, via Hamburg and Cologne to Holland (seeing my sweet girlfriend) and continuing to the south of France were I wanted to meet Cedric, my soulmate which I haven't seen for some years. Cedric is a very good friend and passionate traveler especially in India. He knows India very well from several visits and now that I just came from India we had to catch up, watching pictures and videos and exchanging the latest aspects of life.
Boarding the train in Holland close to the german boarder and traveling via Bruxelles in Belgium and Paris it was quiet a fast and convenient way to get to Bordeaux. From Paris Montparnasse I was entering the fastest train in the world (TGV) that goes up to 250 km/h but can go beyond 300 km/h. It is amazing to see how fast the landscape passes by and how slow cars on the highways are moving in comparison. Approaching Bordeaux there were many many sunflower-fields shining yellow in the evening-sun. The train stopped three times and on the last stop I wondered why nobody was in my wagon any more. Shortly later I found out that I was in the trains back section that did not continue and I had to run to the front wagons to get back in. Remember always to sit on the place you made a reservation for and not like me taking just any seat because being to lazy to walk another 10 wagons when boarding.
Bordeaux itself is a nicely set french city with lots of old architecture and you will find only very little buildings built higher then five stories. This was really nice in particular, as we were on the rooftop of Cedric's apartment block one night, watching the moon coming up and enjoying the view over the nicely lit town. In its center are some fancy and expensive cafes and everywhere you find places with markets, flee-markets and trendy street-cafes. In the town center there is a cinema in a converted church somewhere. This place is hardly recommended as they don't show any advertisements and the atmosphere is great. You can have drinks and food outside the church in one of the street cafes afterwards.
We went three times to the Bassin du Arcachon as it is relatively close (45 minutes by car) and has some great seafood, famous oyster-farms and the highest sand-dunes in Europe in Arcachon itself. Our first visit was right to the sand-dunes and they are really big indeed. Higher than any I have visited before in Vietnam and Australia. Lots of backpackers were staying right at the campground behind the dunes. Sandboarding is amazing here as the dunes are taller than hundred metres and you will get quite a nice downhill run. Cedric's girlfriend Noeline is doing some amazing Arts (glass and painting) she was selling on a market in Arcachon while we have been there. Many sailboarders were on the water but I saw only two Kiteboarders via my visits here. The wind looked very gusty and not perfect for Kiteboarding.
The 15th of August was national holiday here in France and one reason why I couldn't get a train reservation for the next day. We spent this day at the bassin again, eating fresh french mussels and enjoying fireworks afterwards. Overlooking the whole bassin of Arcachon we were actually able to watch all three fireworks held and smoking some nice cigars at the beach. The sunset was marvelous and I will get back to Holland with some very nice memories.