Mazeres sur Salat

We were planning to head for Hendaye to spend some time on or near the beach just north of the Spanish border. The sat-nav gave us an estimate which, leaving from the Dordogne gave us an arrival time in late afternoon just before Le Weekend and on the last day the French could soak up some sun before their inevitable return to their boring jobs. Perhaps not a good idea.

We frantically searched our All the Aires books, the ACSI stuff and our new list of Camping Car Park options for something not too far off our chosen route shadowing but not being drawn onto the expensive A64 péage motorway. We came across the entry for Mazeres sur Salat which was described by the Aires book as ‘…in a beautiful location overlooking fish ladder and weir with views of the Pyrénées beyond. This sounded almost idyllic and so we travelled the 200+ km in high anticipation.

We were not to be disappointed. The Aire was exactly as described and we parked our Tribby exactly as shown in the book’s photo albeit about face so we could look out over the river. The constant burble of the water descending the fish ladder quickly became part of our background noise and was soon lost in the general stillness of the place. This was going to be fun!

While my wife prepared a simple rustic dinner I wandered along the bank of the river looking into the deep water. I saw a splash by the bank and found myself staring into the face of an otter who, as startled as me, somersaulted in the water and dove into a hideyhole in the bank under my feet. I reported this occurrence to my better half who looked only slightly as if she believed me but as we wandered along the banks after dinner Mr Otter refused to make a repeat experience in the hopes that any future Englishman whom he met would also be treated with disbelief and disdain.

Despite its picturesque and peaceful location, one aspect of the AtA entry for this site needs to be qualified. When it says ‘small town commerce 3 mins.’ This needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Boulangerie was deserted, the Bucherie closed and the miniscule Casino supermarket only periodically open. Do not expect to ‘big shop’ here.

All the Aires, Midi Pyrénées. 125. N43.08.080. E000.58.579

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