Our first destination here was Arcachon, a seaside resort on the Atlantic, about 60 Km from Bordeaux. On our way we got totally turned around trying to follow the map from the service station, and had to take a few extra turns, and about 30 extra minutes, to get where we wanted to go. Once we arrived it was totally worth it.
The mix of architecture in Arcachon is French, Spanish, Swiss, and really fantastic. We grabbed a nice spot on the beach, and pretty much just sat there for the next several hours. The sand, sun, and waves were all excellent, as were the Squid, which were washing up all over the beach. (the locals said this was normal, just throw them back)
Of course, most of the women were topless on the beach, except for the attractive ones. It would normally seem exciting to have the gratuitous nudity, but with that much it gets dull pretty quick, just like on the Internet. This is obviously the exception to the Rule of the "French Paradox" where everyone stays skinny drinking wine and eating cheese.
The food we had was a great selection of fish and wine, with small cafes dotting the boardwalk across the front of town. After some fish, ham, crapes, fries and about a liter of wine we were ready to head back. And no detours this time, it was a much shorter drive back into town.
We headed back to the heart of downtown Bordeaux, and walked the streets of the old town. In between the open plazas, fountains, and promenades are these amazing skinny streets lines with bars and cafes. We ended up listening to a street group perform old Soviet music in front of a church, with the entire square filled with tables of eating and drinking people, it was one of those scenes from movies about Europe, but real. We couldn’t get a table in the square, so we ducked into the street next to it and grabbed a table for a late snack. This was a little tapas restaurant, with some really fantastic shrimp, fish soup and chorizos. A couple of Kir Royale later and we were done for the day.
We ended up with a decent sunburn, and some pretty sore feet. And a lot of sand everywhere. Not too shabby for our first day in the south.