I can’t imagine that there are many cafes where you can have a good hot chocolate while watching Olympic level kayakers practice. All this with the Pyrenees in the background.
River Blues is exactly that. Located on the second floor of the building half of this café/bar/restaurant is indoors with windows on three sides and the other half is a covered outdoor terrace with comfy chairs. From here you can watch, depending on the time of day, anything from elite kayakers to absolute beginners (20 euros for a lesson if you are interested!)
The venue is the Stade des Eaux Vives, a beautiful centre where national level elite athletes from around the world come to train on the man made rapids that are visible from the café. Today the kayakers have white jackets with French flags on the shoulders, apparently elite level French athletes. Part of the nearby river is diverted and the water forced down a man made rapid before rejoining the original river a few hundred meters or so down stream.
The hot chocolate was small but excellent. From our seats we could watch the warm up zone just before the training course. A woman who has just finished practicing puts her 3 year old boy into the kayak with her and paddles around the calm water. The boy, all decked out with a helmet and a tiny paddle is smiling ear to ear. A few dozen people are walking around the paths and bridges that circle and cross the rapids. We join them after our stop at the café. One older woman, elegantly dressed stops Rich – “We met at the telethon in December remember?” He looks back at her with a blank stare, “Je ne parle pas Frances” he says before I explain to her that she is mistaken. I could have been jealous if she had been younger, or not there with her husband and grandchildren. Seems Rich has a second life I don’t know about.
Verdict: One of the most interesting hot chocolate stops I have ever had. The location is fantastic and the hot chocolate is excellent. Makes me want to learn how to Kayak, both for the sport and for the hot chocolate. I could treat myself to one every day after practice. River Blues, Stade d’Eaux Vives, Pau, France