Ariege and Biarritz (Week 37 Recap, June 10-16, 2019)
We ended up having a lovely time in the Ariege region of France, one that I don’t think I would have visited had we not been generously lent a house by a family friend. The house was in the tiny village of Merviel - the village was so small that the directions provided to reach the house were simply to the village itself, and then we were to recognize the house by the lavender shutters.
The nearest town was Mirepoix, which appeared to be a French medieval town-hoppers destination, with a weekly market, several places for a bite and a drink, a couple of bakeries, and even a carousel that ran on the weekends (WP’s first ride).
The house was less than an hour from several Pyrenees attractions, most notably the Grotte de Niaux where we took a guided tour to see 17,000 year old cave paintings. Kids under six were strongly discouraged and no baby carriers were allowed, so we left WP at home with the babysitter for that one.
Two more friends joined after George, David and Mike, and we cooked and explored. We had a memorable meal in a 1,000 year old abbey in Camon that had all the French greatest hits -- foie, duck, you name it.
Then we packed up and went to the beach at Biarritz. Mike and I had been to Biarritz for a couple days on a prior France trip, and I remembered it a bit, but I was still pleasantly surprised this time around. After arriving on a rainy day and then getting locked out of our Airbnb the first night, things turned around dramatically and we had an awesome few days at the beach.
Part of it is that the beach is WP’s happy place and she can spend hours running in and out of the surf, throwing rocks at sand and sand at rocks, and generally grinning ear to ear. It’s easier to relax when she is so thoroughly engaged and happy.
We lucked into a great babysitter who we used each night to give us a chance to go out to adult dinner -- and even a bar -- with our friends. This provided little sleep but a nice balance in terms of being able to appreciate the food and the town from another angle.
The daily market at les halles was a lovely surprise and we got our crepe complet fix (everywhere we went in Ariege only had sweet crepes on offer!). When it was time to leave Biarritz for Ireland we were a bit sad, realizing that we wouldn’t see much of the sun or sand for awhile. We spent our last few hours at a cool playground and it made it easy to envision coming back.