Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hendaye, France: A Small Town with a Big Waterfront

I figure now, now that we have moved on from San Sebastian to Bilbao, back to Madrid and are gearing up to depart Rome (for the first of our 3 times here on our trip), would be a good time to publish this post about a little side trip we took from San Sebastian.

After a four hour bus ride from Barcelona to San Sebastian, Spain, a 15 minute train ride and a 30 minute walk we arrived in Hendaye, France.  In our original plans we were not planning on making it to France but as our three weeks in Spain led us to within minutes of the border, we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Hendaye is a small town on the Bay of Biscay in Atlantic Ocean in south western France.  There are equal parts German and Spanish architectural influence with a smidgen of English and French style thrown in as well.  In addition, being so close to the Spanish border we heard more people speaking Spanish than French.  I didn't know what to expect in this town, but as I studied French for 5 years in Middle School and High School I was excited to visit France for the first time. 

After walking around for a while it was evident that this seasonal town capitalized, incredibly nicely, on their waterfront.  As you can see in the map below, there is a large bay housing a marina leading to the canal which ultimately leads out to the ocean.  There is a pedestrian walkway along the bay and a separate lane which is only for bicycle use.  This has been something I have seen a lot of, that not only is there a heavy focus on pedestrian traffic but there are usually separate lanes for walkers and bikers.  The route along the bay is very nice, but the oceanfront promenade was the highlight of the town for me.

Map of Hendaye, France
Bay Boardwalk 1 
Bay Boardwalk 2
The route along the bay is very nice, but the oceanfront promenade was the highlight of the town for me, well besides the cappuccino and crepes with chocolate.  Between the hotels, shops and other buildings and the ocean there is about 60’.  Which is a rough estimate as I didn’t bring my 100’ measuring tape on this 4 month adventure.  40’ of this overall 60’ width is dedicated to pedestrians.  The day we visited Hendaye was quite overcast, and there were still loads of people surfing and using the promenade.  There were plenty of places to sit and watch the ocean, many bicycle racks to accommodate the even greater summer population and a central plaza with wide stairs leading down to the beach.

In this promenade alone there was a wide range of materials used.  There was sandstone in the wall directly along the beach.  There was exposed aggregate in the 20’ pedestrian walkway, and gravel beneath the brushed aluminum bicycle racks. The materials chosen for this space added to its how unique it is.  The benches of brushed aluminum with wood slats for the seats were set on rectangular areas of composite wood decking.  The bicycle lane was colored concrete and separated from the road by a simple but very nice granite block curb planter. 

You find many seaside towns using boardwalks, walkways or path system along their waterfront but the overall scale of the space and the materials selected make the difference between a good walkway and a great boardwalk.  Take a look at the photos below and see what you think about the spatial layout and the materials selected for this oceanfront promenade.

Looking West
(Rt-Lft 6' Sidewalk, 20' Parking/ Travel, 2' Curb and Planter 8' Bike Lane,
8' Tree Lawn/Bench Pad/ Bike Rack/ Gravel Pad,
20' Pedestrian Walk, 2' Wall, Beach)

Close Up Looking West

Sculptural Concrete Seating

View Looking East
(Notice the Steel Vehicle Stoppers to Compliment
the Metal Used in the Other Elements)
Open 'Plaza' Area an Steps to the Beach
Wide View of Street, Promenade, and Ocean

No comments:

Post a Comment