A Laid-Back Beach Town – Mimizan Plage, France
We’d made it to our new campground, but I had to admit I was feeling off-kilter.
It wasn’t because our new spot was bad. In fact the place was quite lovely, verging on the edge of fancy even, and in a great location not too far from the beach. It just wasn’t as perfect as our previous soul-filling spot at Cap De L’Homy. Plus we’d gone from deep-forest stillness right into the middle of a little beach-town. It was pretty quiet here, but not silent and the difference was jarring. I was having tinges of….regret?
As a well-worn traveler I’m often amazed that I go through these kinds of feelings.
I love exploring and absolutely thrive on seeing new places, but travel is also unpredictable and at times (often?) uncomfortable. So when I find a place that really speaks to my soul, I slide right into it like a warm blanket. My nesting nature kicks in and I become attached and reluctant to leave, even after just a few days. Human nature, I guess?
Then when we finally do go, it’s like a band-aid getting ripped off. It’s painful, and I can’t help but feel pangs of sadness. After an experience like that there’s no way the next place can compare, and it never does. I always get into it eventually, but I just need a day or so to adjust to the new vibe. I often wonder, do all travelers go through this?
Our New Place Is Actually Quite Nice
The drive from Cap De L’Homy to Mimizan Plage is a really short jaunt of only 35 mins.
It’s just a hop and a skip along the coast to the next small beach town and it passes right by Super U, which is always an easy place to park a motorhome and shop. So we take advantage to stock-up on both groceries and gas before we roll on.
We arrive at our chosen campsite (Camping Club Marina Landes, part of the Airotel Club chain) just before the lunchtime break, and find a shaded corner spot to call home. It’s a four-star campground with decent-sized pitches and tons of amenities including a heated pool, fitness center, restaurant and even an on-site spa. We never use most of these things, but we appreciate their dog-washing station (a nice touch at a beach campground) and their on-site supermarket selling fresh bread and croissants everyday. Classy stuff.
Plus location is perfect. It’s only 10 mins walk to the beach and a simple bike-ride into town (bike-to-wine anyone?), all for only €18/night with our ASCI discount card. A very decent value for the money.
We Settle In, Meet Our Neighbors And Explore The Beach
A few minutes after we set-up we strike up a conversation with an older French couple next-door who are walking by with their huge Mastiff puppy.
Their dog is only 10 months old and already ~65 kg (~140 lb) of intimidating muscle, but he’s really just a big, harmless goof at heart. Polly doesn’t buy it however and decides to ignore him and stay aloof (she’s such a French lady these days), but we chat up a storm with the owners. They’ve been coming down the coast in the opposite direction to us, and they tell us about a few gems that they passed along the way which were not on our visit list. We bond quickly, as all traveling dog-folk do and share several more chats over the next few days. Super nice folk.
A few hours later, after some work and a quick lounge, we make the short walk to the water for sunset.
There’s a big dune leading to the beach, just like most of the spots we’ve been to so far in Les Landes, but here the houses/apartments are built right up to the edge of it. The beach itself is on the other side of the dune, down a steep wooden staircase. It’s flatter and more open than our last spot, plus it’s definitely more crowded (that said, literally any place would be…). There’s the expected surfer crowd, including a bunch of vannigans parked up by the beach parking lot. There’s also several shore-fisherman hanging by the beach break, including a few guys on fat-tire bikes with their poles custom-mounted on the frame. Clearly surf fishing is a thing here.
Plus there’s another unique touch.
The beach has little bar/restaurant shacks built right on the sand at ~500 ft intervals. They’re teeny places, but they’re cozy and super cute and they offer a place to hang out and have a cocktail or munch a few tapas while watching the sunset. There’s a few folks set-up with a drink when we arrive, many of them with their dogs in tow. It’s a cool idea and we immediately love it.
We enjoy the sunset with the rest of the beach-goers. It tuns out to be a simple event with no clouds, so just a big red-orange sky with the center of our solar system slowly sinking towards the horizon. No fuss, no drama, but still lovely to see. I always love beach sunsets, no matter the weather.
We Decide To Hang A Few Extra Nights
After our first night in camp we decide to extend and stay a few more. The vibe of the place is good and although it’s busier than our last spot, we’re starting to settle in. Plus temps are unseasonably hot. It’s hitting 30°C ( 86°F) every day which is crazy for the end of September, so our fully shaded site with electric hookup is the perfect place to ride it out. We’ll move to our next (non-hookup) site once temps have come down a notch.
Downtown Is A Laid-Back Beach Town
The next few days we just hang out, go for bike rides and explore our area
It’s a 20 min walk from our campsite to downtown, but it’s a pleasant stroll through a residential neighborhood and over the river to the town area. There’s a huge, newly-developed boardwalk with lounge chairs & plenty of spots to hang out all along the beach. Plus there’s lots of restaurants & beach shops just steps away. It’s a tourist town of course, but there’s a really nice, relaxed vibe.
We enjoy a fabulous cappuccino in a quirky & hip little coffee shop, enjoy strolling around the covered market (although most of the shops are closed this time of year), and eat the absolute best chocolatines (that’s what you call a pain au chocolat in this part of France….do NOT get it wrong…!) that we’ve had on the trip so far. Totally decadent, and awesomely yummy.
The only thing we miss (and regret) is not getting a burger at Aloha Burgers, which is apparently a very authentic experience, at least according to all the Google reviews. We never really get to eat burgers in France, so we do get cravings every now and then. Oh well, next time right?
There’s Also An Aire De Camping Here, But In An Odd Location
The last day in camp I bike over to check out the Aire de Camping for a potential future visit.
The Aire in Mimizan Plage actually used to be RIGHT by the beach very close to our campsite (if you look on Google Satellite you’ll still see an image of motorhomes parked in that area). Unfortunately that prime location is long gone, and there’s nowhere to park directly by the water anymore unless you have a van shorter than 1.7 m that can make it under the height barrier into the beach parking lot.
The current Aire de Camping is brand spanking new, but in a weird location on the outskirts of town. It has large sites, level pads, electricity and plenty of space, but it’s somewhat far from the beach & town and also a bit pricey (for an Aire) at €14.50/night. We decide that we’re happier in our campground. It’s only a few euros more with the ASCI card, and in a much better location. If we come back, that’s where we’ll go.
We’re Reaching The End Of Campground Season
Things are starting to wind down and we notice it all around us.
In town, several of the shops and restaurants are closed and soon other services will too. Our camping will close in a few days for the season, as will most other campgrounds along the French coast. Come October, Aires will pretty much be the only thing open (thankfully most Aires stay open year around).
Of course we’ve got that little tug of reluctance again. Over the last few days we’ve settled into the vibe of Mimizan Plage. We’ve got nice neighbors, we’re near to a cute beach-town and we could easily hang a little longer and munch down a few more of those delicious chocolatines. Yup, there’s that nesting thing again….
But there’s also that next spot calling us. It’s only just down the road and who knows….it might be even better than this one, right?
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