Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary takes plenty of flak, most of which is well deserved. After our weekend trip to the French seaside resort of Biarritz on his airline, I’d like to add aiding the spread of skin cancer to his CV…
Back in 2008, we escaped the dreary English summer for a sunny break in Biarritz on the Atlantic coast of the Basque part of France. Or so we thought.
On landing at the tiny airport, we were met by a major thunderstorm which lingered for half of our first day there. As we had only brought walk-on luggage with us we couldn’t bring any suncream, but it looked like we wouldn’t need any after all. When the clouds had finally dispersed, we went out to see what Biarritz had to offer.
It reminded us both of Cornwall, with sandy beaches, stacks and stumps and a bit of a surfer-dude atmosphere. The town’s main sight is the Rocher de la Vierge – a rocky outcrop off the coast, with a statue of the Madonna on it. There is an iron bridge linking the rock to the beach, built by Gustave Eiffel, of Tower fame. Waves crash in off the Atlantic, soaking those brave enough to walk all the way to the end.
On day two, there was not a cloud in the sky as we strolled along the town’s beaches. Kat’s shoulders were burning in the sun, so in a selfless gesture I whipped off my tshirt and gave it to her while I spent the day topless. We popped into a tourist shop to see how much suncream would be, but were shocked at the prices. There’s no doubt about it – Biarritz is a pricey place and has held a reputation as a ritzy, elegant resort since it became popular with French royalty in the 19th Century.
So rather than paying the twenty euros for a tube of protection, I sat shirtless drinking with Kat in the bars of Biarritz like a true Brit abroad. We had a great afternoon sampling the local ciders, perries and seafood – it was only later that evening that I realised my skin had turned the deep purple colour of my passport.
I may not have bought any suncream, but got through plenty of bottles of aftersun when I got back to England to soothe the worst case of sunburn I will ever experience.