Wednesday Wander – Le Musee De La Mar, Biarritz

It’s Wednesday, and time to wander again. I recently visited the French coastal town of Biarritz, and this week I’m going to wander to Le Musee De La Mer – the Biarritz Aquarium.

Opened to the public in 1933, the building is a stylish example of Art Deco architecture, much like the nearby Casino. However, the origins of the aquarium go back a few decades earlier, when the Marquis de Folin convinced the French authorities to commence scientific studies of the Bay of Biscay. He wanted to create a ‘seat of learning’ where people could come and learn about the oceans, a field of study that was gaining in popularity at the time. The First World War halted development of his idea, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that it came to fruition.

Perched upon cliffs high above the town, the Aquarium looks out onto the sea…

…and also onto some fairly impressive houses. This one would be fairly close to my dream home, I think!

The Aquarium has been extended and renovated since the 1930s, but still retains its original Art Deco interior design. There is something about this style of design that lends itself particularly well to maritime themes, I think.

The aquarium also houses a Scientific Study and Research Centre, which focuses mainly on the nearby Bay of Biscay. There is a museum section which houses sailing and surfing artifacts, and different exhibit areas for each of the world’s oceans.

Like much in central Biarritz, the Aquarium is easy to get to on foot – a short walk along the beach path and through a picturesque old harbour, then up a (not too steep) hill. Once inside, we spent several hours exploring the oceans – we listened to whale songs, examined skeletons and surfboards, watched seals play and found Dory, as well as Nemo.

We also visited the Shark Cave, a massive tank home to several species of sharks, including a rather lonely looking hammerhead. To be honest, I’m not too fond of seeing animals in captivity, even though I’m sure these tanks are top of the line. However, the gorgeous girl is particularly fond of all things aquatic, so an aquarium stop is de rigeur wherever we go on holiday. She thoroughly enjoyed this one, especially the glow-in-the-dark exhibits.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Biarritz, and will definitely wander there again, both on this blog and in real life. Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me, see you next time!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

#BlogBattle – Leviathan


This is my entry to Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle. This week’s word was ‘Leviathan’, and it took me straight out to sea. I realise I’ve been doing a few of these blog challenges of late, and I think it’s because I need to stretch all my writing muscles before hitting NaNo next month. Plus I’m really enjoying them, and I’m not sure how many I’ll have the chance to do next month.


In the depths it stirred. Great tentacles uncoiled, revealing an eye like a golden lamp, light streaming through the darkness onto fish flickering, quicksilver. It was hungry.


‘So, d’you like it?’

I shrugged. Then, seeing hurt starting to cloud his face, I smiled at him. ‘Yeah, it’s cool! I mean, you must have worked so hard on it.’

‘It’ was a boat. You could call it a yacht, I suppose, if you were being very generous. And he had worked hard. The once encrusted sides were now gleaming, the windows free of caked-on salt, chrome gleaming in the sun.

‘Yeah.’ He grinned, hands on hips as he surveyed his handiwork. ‘It was a slog, that’s for sure. But it will be worth it when we get out there.’

I tried not to grimace. I think I got away with it. But the idea of being at sea for days with him, no matter how much I liked him, filled me with a cold dread I couldn’t explain.

I loved the water. Had lived near it my whole life. Perhaps that was the problem. I’d seen enough to know that its benign blue depths were neither forgiving nor welcoming, stories half-heard coming back to haunt me.

I took a breath in then blew it out. ‘So, when do we leave?’


Rocks crumbled to dust under its bulk as it moved across the ocean floor, black as ink, tentacles curling like smoke, the great beaked mouth opening and closing. It knew it needed to rise to the surface, where the pressure was so light it could move a thousand times more quickly. Ideal when hunting.


Leviathan. That’s an-‘

‘Unusual name? Yeah.’ He laughed. ‘I didn’t name her though. The letters were already there when I cleaned her off.’

‘Huh.’ I nodded, my arms folded across my body.

‘Hey.’ His voice had changed, softer and he came around behind me, his hands resting on my shoulders, fingers kneading the knots there. I melted. He could always do that to me. There was no one else, really. ‘Are you all right?’

‘Hmmm,’ I said. Before I could say anything else there was a shout and he let go of my shoulders, both of us turning to see a black clad figure approaching, one arm raised to wave.

‘Hello!’ He went to greet him, shaking hands and I smiled too. I’d known George Bevan my whole life, pretty much, and he looked no different now than he had when I was a child. Same black knit jumper over baggy trousers, ancient leather boots on his feet. His eyes were ice blue and distant, as though searching for an ever receding horizon. But now they were smiling, tanned skin creasing at the corners, teeth white under his beard.

‘A gift for the new boat,’ he said, holding out a life preserver. It was white, stencilled with the name Leviathan, a small image of a many tentacled creature between the first and last letters. I looked closer, then smiled at George.

‘Your handiwork?’ He grinned again. ‘It’s lovely.’ I ran my finger over the delicate paint lines, marvelling at the detail he’d put in, down to using gold paint for the shimmering eyes. ‘It’s too nice to use, really.’ I laughed, but the smile slid from his face.

‘Don’t you be jokin’ about that now,’ he said, waving a finger at me. ‘And,’ he went on, directing his words at both of us, ‘if you’re heading down south stay as close to the coast as you can manage. ‘Tis not the time of year to be out at open sea too long, least not ‘round here.’

He looked out past the curving harbour wall to where the sea glittered, his brows coming together slightly.

‘Um, okay,’ I said. ‘I mean, I’m sure we won’t.’

‘We’ll be fine,’ my companion said, his voice firm. ‘We know the way.’


It had slept for long periods, deep in its undersea cave. Surfaced so infrequently that it was the stuff of legend, a mystery to be revealed on the last day, according to some. But it was very real, and now it rose through layers of blue, reaching out for what it sought.


‘I think that’s it,’ he said, stowing the last of the bags in a cupboard. It was early, dawn just golden above the waves as we loaded the boat with provisions and clothing for the journey ahead. The small cabin space was ready, the tiny bed made up. The deck timbers were polished, ropes crisp and new. It should have been a dream, setting off on a trip like this, with a man like him, and in many ways it was. But I still couldn’t shake the dread that choked my throat, sliding across my skin like a shadow.

‘Are you ready?’ He smiled at me. I nodded.




To be continued at some point…