High summer’s passed, but it’s still over 30° - and though our flip flops are no longer melting, the pool’s still the only sensible place to be. If you do venture out into the heat, a day trip au plage will involve leaving at some God forsaken pre dawn hour and taking pot luck with the Bordeaux morning traffic - although with a hefty dose of luck you’d avoid most of it and be dipping your toes in the Atlantic by breakfast time. Trouble is that an easy journey isn’t guaranteed, it’s swiftly hot enough to fry eggs on the car roof and once on the beach there’s no escape from the sun, other than under the fishing pier - where everyone else has already set up camp.
Better then to head off to a nearby aqua park, open for a week or so yet, tree shaded and stuffed with bonkers slides, swimming pools and inflatable icebergs (really) to clamber onto and then launch yourself into the muddy waters below. And with the smaller lakes, that’s part of the problem - after a long dry spell, they turn suspiciously opaque, harbouring as they do shoals of mud churning carp and several months worth of kids wee. So bigger and spring fed is better – excepting the slavish devotion of the staff at the larger sites to impose daft rules on their paying guests. And don’t expect a bunch of Baywatch types watching over you – it’s less the Hoff and his pneumatically chested companions, more a bunch of occasionally grumpy (albeit lithe) students.
Amongst other pointless strictures, a favourite is to ban board shorts and insist on one and all sporting speedo-esque trunks, regardless of the punter’s girth and general flabbiness. So not only are you treated to unpleasant acres of fish white flesh, but the chances of Mister Blobby tearing the backside out of his skimpy attire while plunging down the slides is increased tenfold – as is treating the assembled crowd to a display they’ll try to forget (but will probably haunt their dreams for weeks to come).
On the plus side, it won’t be far to drive and the park will be immaculately kept. You’ll only have to find a handful of euros to get in, the pools will sparkly and heated, the bar will serve inexpensive food and there’ll be plenty to keep the kids amused – not least the sight of a bunch of fat blokes dashing behind the bushes to hide their accidently exposed parts.