San Sebastián To Biarritz
It’s the last few days of August and our travels through Spain are coming to an end. Our last stop at Pamplona is the beginning of the drive towards the coast. Here, we’ll stop at San Sebastián, before heading to Biarritz, just over the border in France. However, things don’t go quite to plan.
First, to reach San Sebastián, we choose the toll road, which is the only time we’ve used one in Spain. The journey is relatively short, taking just over an hour to reach the periphery of this vast coastal resort.
Unfortunately, it takes more than grit determination to find an overnight parking spot. Once we reach San Sebastián, we realise this resort is both huge and packed.
Before I continue, I must apologise for the lack of photo’s in this post. Simply put, the weather and the journey aren’t the best for getting out the van and taking photo’s! It’s very unusual for me to say the least.
The Aire at San Sebastián
The Aire at San Sebastián has 44 parking spaces for motorhomes, but it’s tight and popular.
Although we find it fairly easily amongst the sprawling spread of this large resort, unfortunately it’s full when we get there.
Now not to give up easily, we decide to wait, driving aimlessly around hoping someone leaves soon. To make matters worse, there’s nowhere to just park and wait and we’re not the only campervan circling for a space.
After about 30 minutes at this motorhome Aire, we decide to waste no more time and move on. This is just becoming silly and even if we wait longer, there’s no way of knowing if a space will become free.
A Wild Spot above town – San Sebastián To Biarritz
Next, we find a wild camping spot on one of our Apps and set google maps into motion. The road leads up above the town. This same road also leads to a campsite, which is another option, but it’s even further out of town.
Low and behold, there’s actually a space here amongst 5 motorhomes, although it’s not the best looking parking spot.
Nonetheless, we decided to at least stop for lunch as time is now ticking by and enthusiasm is waning.
Overlooking an overflowing bin with what looks like a dumped sheet of Asbestos alongside, doesn’t enhance the enthusiasm to stay here.
Apparently there is a bus stop somewhere which could take us into the centre or we could try walking. Normally, we’d choose the walking option, but it’s a fairly steep, busy road with no pavement and it looks like it’s going to pour down.
By now, I begin to wonder if we’re just making excuses! Do we really want to stay the night anyway, and do we actually feel like walking round San Sebastián?
A Drive by The Seafront
After lunch, we decide to opt out of walking round San Sebastián. Instead, we’ll do a drive-by along the seafront and a quick glance through the vast streets from the comfort of the campervan.
To be honest, this is so unlike us, but for some reason, we sort of just want to get out of here.
Perhaps if it was better weather today or less busy, we’d think differently, but instead after lunch we hot foot it out of this town.
So, all we get is a dull view out the windscreen of the golden sandy bays, which look lovely and typically a true seaside resort. Renowned for the surf beach of Play de la Zurriola and alluring Playa de la Concha, San Sebastián is truly one of the most popular locations on this Northern coast of Spain.
The backdrop of Monte Urgull, a green hill rising at the end of a sweeping bay, makes a scenic setting. Undoubtedly, nightlife, fine dining and dreamy sunsets are what San Sebastián is all about.
For us, the streets are busy, traffic chaotic and a mix of old meets new. This brings changing dimensions to the resort as we drive along.
No doubt, the old town of San Sebastián is rather lovely, but we’ll have to save this for another time.
Overall, imagine beautiful people, grand old architecture and a modern day hip cultural scene. Summing up, San Sebastián, it’s worthy of a visit, but get here early in high season or book a campsite pitch!
Absolute chaos to France – San Sebastián To Biarritz
Eventually, we find ourselves on the outskirts of the centre of San Sebastián. Now, we’re heading towards Biarritz, but this route to France is absolute chaos.
Not only is the traffic appalling, with eyes and ears on high alert for any sharp manoeuvres, but there’s also a torrential thunder storm overhead.
The drive is awful, bumper to bumper of boring traffic jams along the main route to France. Not only is it drab, but there’s no nice scenery either. Instead, it seems to be mostly industrial areas of a functional, unappealing nature.
What should be a journey of about an hour takes us 4 hours, so you can imagine by now we’re really fed up! Finally we arrive in France, but things still don’t get much better.
Coastal towns to Biarritz
The plan initially is to stop at one of the coastal towns before reaching Biarritz after the French border.
However, despite looking at St Jean de Luz and Bidart and others along the way, there is nothing to draw us into stopping.
On this stretch, Aires are rare and campsites full. August is obviously high season, so not the best time of year to be here.
Although we’ve been here before in our first motorhome, it’s nearly 20 years ago. Back then, we really weren’t that impressed, so have never returned in all that time.
So this year, we’re hoping it’s more to our liking, but unfortunately, this Atlantic coast of France, just doesn’t do it for us.
No doubt, the bad weather doesn’t help, after all, everywhere looks worse in the rain. By now, we’re beginning to wonder if we’ll ever find anywhere to park.
Then, we find ourselves at the Aire in Biarritz where we stopped all those years ago. As usual, it’s changed – there’s now a barrier entrance and it’s much neater in general. Today it’s full, just as it used to be – popular with motorhomes queuing up to park.
However, just round the corner along a narrow road is another Aire, a new looking one and it looks like it has space.
Approaching the barrier, we read the instructions and take a ticket. There’s a few spaces free, so we choose one and park up for the night, just as more rain falls and thunder rolls.
Once again, we’re not excited by this place. Maybe we’re just in grumpy mode, but whatever it is, we’re not bouncing around with joy.
A rowdy night ahead
Then, a trio of British motorhomes drive in. The next thing we know, there’s a knock at the door, with one of the occupants asking Nigel if they can use our levelling ramps.
Well, we don’t actually have levelling ramps, so the question was easily answered. Next though, he asks if he can come inside our campervan and have a look around!
Luckily, I’m in the bathroom, so Nigel has a genuine excuse to politely tell the stranger “no”. Finally, the cheeky chap asks if we own our campervan, or do we have it on finance?
At this point, Nigel is helping the chap out with some wooden blocks. These, we keep in the back of the van, for times when a bit of levelling may be in need. Our wooden blocks are last seen making their way to the trio of motorhomes, but quite honestly, we’re just glad to see the back of them!
Then, at 2am, there’s a piercing shrill of shouting and swearing. Oh my word, this is the trio of occupants returning from a night out, leaving no desire to keep things quiet.
TIME TO GO
As the noise rumbles on through the night, our patience wears thin. By now, not only are we ready to move on to quieter parts, but also to find better weather too.
After all, the forecast for the next few days is only more rain. Then, we’re not liking this area too much and well, we don’t want another disturbed night.
In the end, we don’t even go into Biarritz. Instead, choosing to leave it to the memory from decades ago.
So, we pay our fee at the machine, pop on the sat nav and decide to head towards one of our favourite “go to” places.
Yes, a 4-hour drive to Carcassone comes first – but, that’s for next time. This will be a quick stop en-route to the most peaceful, beautiful coastal hamlet on the Côte d’Azur. A place we return to for relaxation, rocky inlets, crystal clear seas and shady pines and we can’t wait to get there.
Join us next time at the popular, fortress town of Carcassone.