Jack COLLISTER - English Teacher - 01/12/2021
With the weather getting colder, the summer holidays seem like a distant memory and even though it was complicated to plan a trip due to Covid19 restrictions, it was not impossible to take a vacation in France or in another country. This summer I decided to do a road trip from Nantes to Florence, stopping in Aix-en-Provence on the way. I was really excited about this trip and everything went smoothly with no complications (the opposite of my road trip in 2020).
In the summer of 2020 I decided to drive down to Saint Sebastien to visit a good friend of mine. On the way to Spain I stopped in Hossegor for a night. I had done my research before starting this trip and I read online that there were some nice ‘freedom camping spots’ not too far from the beach. This sounded very attractive to me, not only because it was free but also because it's nice to feel like you are in the wild sometimes. Holiday parks and campsites can feel overly touristy and crowded during peak season. Anyway, when I arrived at the ‘freedom camping spot’ I did not feel comfortable. Maybe I watch too many horror movies but it felt like something out of the ‘Blair Witch Project.’ I erected my tent but immediately became scared and packed it away before jumping in my car and driving away as fast as I possibly could.
‘I’m never going camping again,’ I said to myself.
After driving into the centre of Hossegor (it was very late by this point) I visited all the campsites in the area but unfortunately they were all fully booked. No space anywhere, not even for a small tent like mine. The only thing I could think to do was sleep in my car. So I parked up next to the beach and fell asleep in the driver's seat.
One hour later…. ‘Knock, knock’ on my car window.
Three 'gendarme' police officers were looking at me with a torch. I opened my car door and was informed that it was not possible to sleep there. I explained to them that I couldn’t find a campsite, deliberately speaking bad French with a strong English accent. Maybe they would feel sorry for me if they thought I was just a lost tourist. One of the policemen then asked me if he could see my identification.
‘Of course, sir,’ I replied and began searching in my car for my passport.
In a state of panic I took my laptop bag from my car boot, thinking that the passport would be in there but as I took the bag, my MacBook dropped out and fell onto my foot.
‘ARGHHHHHH!’ I shouted in pain.
The gendarme looked at each other, probably thinking ‘who is this English idiot?’
I think at that point they began feeling sorry for me and told me not to worry about the passport. They said that I could sleep in the car for one night as long as I found a campsite the next day. I told them that it was okay because I planned to drive to Saint Sebastian the next morning. They all agreed, told me to go to a hospital about my foot and then left me in peace.
That night was very difficult - sleeping in my car with my foot in agony - and when I went to the hospital in Bayonne the next day, the doctor confirmed that it was broken. They gave me a pair of crutches and some painkillers and I continued with my holiday. Fortunately the rest of the trip was a lot less complicated and there were no other emergencies but it was very difficult to walk with the crutches and I got tired very quickly. The original plan was to go hiking in the Pyrenees but of course that was not possible so instead I just sat in cafés, drank coffee and ate tartiflette. It wasn't quite the holiday I expected but I definitely learnt my lesson.
Moral of the story : DON’T SLEEP IN YOUR CAR
In 2021, I decided to be very organised and book everything in advance. Even though my story in Bayonne was funny to tell people, I don't want a repeat of what happened. I have also learnt my lesson that I am a big WIMP and I do not like freedom camping.