In our last week in France, we crossed two départements: Les Landes with its large pine forests, eventually opening to the Atlantic, where we spent some nights in small beach resorts, and the Basque part of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, where we already got a taste of Euskadi (Basque country in Basque). When we arrived in Ciboure, we were a short walk and one ferry crossing away from Spain!
On day 338, we had an easy hike through the forest until the town of Parentis-en-Born, where we stayed with a nice young couple in their AirBnB room – as it turned out, they were working at the very airbase we had passed the day before. We spent the evening in the town, did some grocery shopping and had dinner in a small restaurant. When we returned, our hosts were still up and happy to chat, so we could enjoy a glass of wine with them before we went to sleep.
The next day was a day for goodbye – for the first and only time during our trip, one of us would be hiking alone for some days. Moiken flew to her hometown Berlin for her stepfather’s funeral, while José would continue on our way towards Spain. We walked together for the first part of the day, had lunch together in St. Paul and parted ways. Moiken took a taxi to Bordeaux airport, and José hiked until Mimizan, a busy coastal town.
From day 340 to 342, José was hiking from Mimizan to Lit-et-Mixte and continued until Moliets-et-Maa. He passed an important landmark on his way: a sculpture indicating that we were 1000 km away from Santiago de Compostela! Through forests, along lakes and on empty bike trails, he had plenty of time to enjoy the silence, until he arrived in the beach town, where he took a rest day to wait for Moiken’s return from Germany. When the two hikers were reunited again, we spent an evening at the beach to gather strength for out last stretch in France.
We advanced well in the next two days. Our condition allowed us to walk around to 30 km a day, so we managed to cover 58 km, walking on the beach, on forest trails, passing several lakes and finally following the Adour river, until we arrived in Bayonne. On the way, a surprising sight: after being in the middle of nature for several hours, we didn’t expect to see a huge parking lot for new cars to be shipped to their new owners. Bayonne is a busy town, with great support for pilgrims. In the Cathedral, we received a very useful list of accommodations and stage descriptions all the way to Santiago.
On day 345, we started with a bit of rain, but could still enjoy the beautiful view of Bayonne as we got on our way. Throughout the hike, we were reminded by the architecture, language, and landscape, that we had arrived in Basque Country. When we arrived in Ciboure, we left our things in a pilgrim’s hostel and explored the French cuisine for the last time, after 69 days in the country.