San Sebastian. Spain to to Magescq, France

Getting out of San Sebastian on N 1

At the top of the ridge between San Sebastian and Irun on N 1

It was hard getting out of San Sebastian this morning. Bad traffic and bad signs cost me half a hour and at least 200 feet of climbing. The problem, which is certainly not unique to Spain, is that the signs assume you are in a car and want to use the autoroute. I followed the signs for N 1 to Irun and found my self directed to A 8. Then I came back down from that hill and, looking at my regional map, was able to guess to what used to be N 1 and ride it out of town. ~that was hard ride in heavy traffic, but doable.

When I got near Irun, after climbing over yet another 400 foot high ridge, I got lost repeatedly - strange signs in Spain - and then, 3 km from France, my front derailleur cable broke. I really should replace that cable before each big tour! Fortunately the replacement went very smoothly - 10 minutes using on my leatherman tool which has a 4/5 mm allen bit and a wire cutter - and I was, after only one more detour, able to get to France.

Climbing the first hill in France. It was 500 feet or so

Once over the river to Hendaye, France, I was on N 10. It immediately climbed 500 feet or so over the next ridge ;-}. The big difference between riding in Spain and France: the number of big trucks on the N road. In Spain, most of the traffic is big trucks. In France, there were very few big trucks on N 1. I think I was passed by one big truck in the first hour! That alone made a hugh diference in the riding environment. In Spain, it was almost always very noisy. In France it was usually fairly quite. Of course, in both countries there are way too many 50cc scooters that are way louder than anything else on the road! Still riding is much less stressful in France, mostly because the noise levels are much lower.

The ride up the first hill was nice. The road was peaceful and shaded by trees and not too steep. I was passed by three riders on the way up. The first one was a racer type who was really hauling up that hill, but the other two weren't much faster than I was even though they were on unloaded bike. I also saw, on the other side of the road, two solo loaded tourists, headed for Spain.

Part of the beach at St Jean de Luz

At a service station on top of the first ridge, I stopped and bought a map of this part of France and a 1.5 l Coke. Looking at the map, I figured I'd ride N 10, leave it to go down to St Jean de Luz to see what that was like, the ride it to near Bayonne, go to see the Cathedral there, and then ride D 652 though some of the towns close to the beach above Bayonne. If I liked that riding, I stay on D 652. If not I'd come back to N 10 which goes to Bordeaux some 200 km north of the border.

N 10 on the way to Bayonne
A bit too commercialized

One of the two towers of the Cathedral at Bayonne

A park in Bayonne

On the other side of the ridge, I took an exit from a roundabout - I must have ridden over two dozen roundabouts today - that led down to the beach. It was quite nice, but I prefer beaches like the one I rode several km of cobblestones to get get to in northern P/ortugal. This one was too developed for my taste, so I got back on N-10 - a hundred foot or more of climbing - and headed north.

At Bayonne, I got off N1- again and rode through the old town to, and around, the Cathedral. Nice. I stopped for an over priced - 2E - cafe at a cafe just across from on on the side doors and again to take some pictures at the front. It is hard to get more than a partial view because there are many other buildings packed tightly around then Cathedral. Then I rode down into the new part of town and tried to head north. I found a lovely park where I photographed flowers and a fountain, but discovered that I had to head east a ways to find a bridge across the river. Then I managed to find my way out of town on N 10.

N 10 was busy, but usually has a bike lane and was always pretty good riding. However, about 10 km north of Bayonne, I was happy to get off on the more peaceful D 652 and ride to Capbreton. D 652 goes a long way north as the road nearest the ocean and there are towns on it every ten km or so. I figured I'd get away from N 10 commercialism and check out those towns.

Riding to Capbreton on D 652

Riding back to N 10 on D 33

The road in, D 652, was promising, but, when I got to Capbreton, the only thing I really enjoyed was the InterMarche - my favorite French supermarket- where I got multi grain bread, applesauce, cheese and yogurt drink. I ate part of the bread and drank the yogurt drink sitting in front of the store, then I rode on to the next town. It was pretty much the same, a nice golf and tennis community with big RV parks and a beach a few km away. Not my thing, so I took D 33 back east to N 10 and headed north.

St. Gours de Maremme, the last town on N 10


Things were going well on N 10. I was cruising at 15 to 17 mph and feeling like I should crank on down the road for another hour or two. Then N 10 became part of an Autoroute ;-{ and my dreams of a fast trip to Bordeaux were ended. I was kicked off onto something called S 2, which was really a nicer rider than N 10, but only lasted till the next town, Magescq. It wasn't obvious what I should do next and Magescq has a hotel, so I stopped for the night.

My room doesn't have a toilet, but it does have a shower and a sink, and the bed is comfortable. It cost 32 E. I had a beer at the bar, and that cost 2 E for 250 ml of beer. Now I remember why I don't drink beer in France! I've eaten some of my bread and applesauce, with a little cheese, for supper, so my food costs for today is about 10 E. I can get breakfast here tomorrow for 4.5 E or make do with what I have. I'll decide in the morning. I'll also decide how I'm going to continue north. My choices are go back to D 652 or use even smaller roads - so small they aren't labeled on my map. 71 miles today, with half a mile of climbing in 6 hours and 12 minutes.

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