Waters of Life – Dax

After our quiet “day off” in Belin-Beliec we arrived yesterday at the spa town of Dax, a scant 44 miles as the crow flies from the Spanish border. And now Iggy the Hymer motorhome and I are watching the morning sun burn the frosting from the grass at the city’s free motorhome Aire.  (N43.714298, W1.04919)

In an hour I will send DM to rouse our lazy chauffeur from his slumber and we will leave France behind and be on our way to San Sebastian/Donostia.

In an hour I will send DM to rouse our lazy chauffeur from his slumber and we will leave France behind and be on our way to San Sebastian/Donostia.

The free Aire at Dax. Surprisingly quiet during the night.

Donostia (as the Basques call it) is something of a traditional stop for motorhomers heading into or out of Spain from South West France, and we are going there to meet up with fellow motorhomer and long term traveller Vera and her sister Rita.

With some social time to look forward to later I’m keen to catch up with the blog before we go, and have already been out and walked Marley round the small lake beside the Aire. Quietly stunned by the sight of it’s covering of morning mist drifting skywards. The irresistible pull of the swiftly warming sun lifting each tiny drop of water vapour, up, up, up… Evaporation in heady, graceful process.

But I am getting ahead of myself! I have still to tell you about our time in Dax yesterday. Why did we pick it? How did we like it? Is it still raining in France?

The lovely park and lake beside the Aire.

Well firstly we didn’t know it was a spa town before we arrived of course. We try to know as little as possible about the places we visit before we go to them. Instead I look for welcoming motorhome aires or parkings in a general direction and distance from where we’ve stayed the night before.

Once I find an okay sounding spot I google the town or village and press images to see if anything interesting looking comes up. If it does – we go. If it doesn’t? I look for another Aire. But for the details…I like to be surprised. To wander each place with fresh eyes. Unhindered by guide books and tourist maps.

Though these do come in handy and I’ve used them a lot in the past. It’s just not what I want from my Nomadic life at the moment. Right now, I really just want to wander. 

There are some places of course that we visit with expectations and fore knowledge. Places like Rome, Pisa, Montelimar, Dijon, Granada, Seville. But for the rest we like to be surprised. To turn a corner and discover something completely unexpected.

Like, let’s just say, a Thermal Spring in the centre of a town called Dax that the Roman’s had built a baths around after the waters healed a centurion’s dog!

What? Yes! So we discovered, as we wandered the five minute wander from the free aire, along the river and into the historic old town. Past the architecturally beautiful bullring. The groups of Boules players scattered around the little park and the incredible acoustics of the lacy central bandstand. Hello Dax! We think we like you!

Beautiful building – shame about the “Sport”.

It wasn’t an instant liking, although as said above there’s plenty to like. But the place grew on us more and more as we wandered it’s streets and riverbanks.

There’s some pretty shoddy buildings here, and the town is a strange mix of feelings of poverty and over priced “Trendy” co-existing simultaneously in exactly the same space. Like two realities, two worlds whose very particles are woven inextricably together.

Shabby Chic Dax

But it is fun. A shop window full of kitchen gadgets held our attention for ages. A pineapple corer, a garlic roaster, a machine that simultaneously peeled, cored and sliced apples! I wanted every gadget and fear I shall dream longingly of the apple peeler for the rest of my days!

The next window showcased a fantastic selection of knives. Plain knives, patterned knives, Army knives, steak knives. One display with beautifully scrollworked blades had a centrepiece advert of a disconcerted looking Hipster man about to tuck into a steak. He looked for all the world like a very startled Vegan.

The sun was a heady 16 degrees and we wandered blissfully without our winter coats. Poking our hands under the roasting hot thermal waters gushing out of taps at the old Roman baths turned fountain.

We admired the cathedral, read the story of the Roman Legionnaire and his dog, chatted with friendly dog walkers and munched massive Pommes de Chausson with strong black coffee from a backstreet bakery.

And we relaxed. We smiled. Let the warmth and brightness of the sun soothe the northern winter from our grateful, delighted bones.

After dinner back in Iggy we walked Marley one last time out along the riverbanks beneath the towering, winter bare arches of the plane trees. Over the course of the day this town had worked a magic on us and left us content, happy, sorry to leave, glad to have come.

Motorhome Parking Breda Style

Maybe it was the waters…

Fi. x

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