La Côte des Basques is a beach in Southwestern France (Biarritz) and when translated, means ‘the Basque Coast’. It’s always been very popular with surfers. As a child, my grandmother (or favorite aunt) would take us there for a few hours in the summer, but there were a few caveats:
- The tide had to be low (at high tide, there is no beach, only waves crashing against the large boulders next to a retaining wall holding the road)
- It couldn’t be too hot
- If in the afternoon, we had to wait at last 2 hours after lunch (because swimming right after you eat is a recipe for drowning)
- We could not buy any food (including ice cream, fresh beignets or anything else offered up for sale on the beach) as it would spoil our appetites, and eating ‘on the street’ is considered bad manners.. And of course, rule 3.
Parking was always a challenge as the beach is on a two-lane road leading to a roundabout within a cul de sac. Super cool English and German hippie surfers (this was the early 70s) came down for the summer and parked their VW Vanagons for several weeks, living on ice cream, beignets and beer. Their surfer girlfriends wore questionable clothing that fascinated me as I peered in to the vans annoying my grandmother as she grabbed my forearm and reminded me to follow her.
I have fond memories of the beach. The waves were large, small, blue, green, powerful, soft, salty, sweet. You never knew what would happen until you got there, and even then the water was every changing. I loved the water, the tide pools, the surfers and the ice cream. It was paradise!