One, two

Day one
The adventure began with a very early start to catch the first Eurostar to Hendaye from Ebbsfleet International. A man called Alan stopped me at security and, after taking my word for it that the half kilo of light brown powder in the ziploc bag was hot chocolate, settled on taking the penknife that I have taken camping for the past 20 years. He made sure I witnessed it going into the “sharps” bin – clearly he had never seen me try to cut salami with it.I crossed Paris on Metro line 4 to Gare Montparnasse, struggling momentarily to follow signs to the toilet. I remember thinking that this didn’t bode well for following a map across the Pyrenees. On the Metro I saw a homeless man with wild, straggly black hair carrying an oversized foam  and a tiny Hannah Montana rucksack. It occurred to me that this could be me soon. When he turned around he was clutching a bottle of champagne. That could definitely be me! I wonder what he was celebrating?

I crossed Paris on Metro line 4 to Gare Montparnasse, struggling momentarily to follow signs to the toilet. I remember thinking that this didn’t bode well for following a map across the Pyrenees. On the Metro I saw a homeless man with wild, straggly black hair carrying an oversized foam  and a tiny Hannah Montana rucksack. It occurred to me that this could be me soon. When he turned around he was clutching a bottle of champagne. That could definitely be me! I wonder what he was celebrating?

I arrived at Hendaye in the afternoon. Anyone looking for a campsite in late May will be sorely disappointed but I found one via the Tourist Office. By the time I arrived at the site, the reception staff had gone for the day and it was beyond the bar staff to accommodate late arrivals – “désolé”. Still, there are several hotels.

 

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Hendaye

 

The quest for gaz.
I spent most of the afternoon and the first half of day two looking for gaz. Neither Carrefour nor Intermarche nor a campsite mentioned on the internet (wasn’t even open) had any. I was just mentally designing a perfect hobo stove from an old cassoulet tin as I began to take my first steps on the GR10 after a long climb up from the beach at Hendaye, when hurrying along the path, with a bag of tools and a Silva compass, came a man called Alain.

It transpired that Alain was part of a team that maintain the GR footpath signs. Speaking excellent English he declared that it was his lunch break, and he offered to drive me to the outskirts of St Jean de Luz to buy gaz and return me to the path. I willingly accepted. With the newly acquired gaz and a “bon courage” I set off again, eternally grateful.

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The white and red stripes of the GR10

Day two
A Tuesday. I climbed La Rhune which has great views and spotted several vultures. Naturally there was a train station at the top, but I had the place to myself as it was still early morning. I passed a few strange looking caves on the way down, some with bones outside. I didn’t investigate further.

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Biriatou

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