One of the great things about teaching English online to French students is that I learn so much more about the different areas of France, areas that are off the normal path of American tourists. One case in point is the conversation I had with Aurora, a mother of three living near Paris. She recommended that I visit Cap Ferret, her favorite destination in France. She went there every year as a child to visit her grandparents, and she continues to visit every year with her children. Her enthusiasm for this area put Cap Ferret on the top of my list of places to visit.
Thankfully the opportunity arrived last summer, after we finished our 2 month program near Toulouse. Cap Ferret is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Toulouse and only about an hour away from Bordeaux. Cap Ferret is a peninsula, kind of like an upside-down San Francisco, just longer and narrower. The Atlantic Ocean is located on one side of this narrow strip and the Bassin d’Arcachon is located on the other.
Cap Ferret itself is a long narrow stretch upon which a few little towns reside. We stayed in one of the little towns, Le Canon, in an AirBnb apartment, which provided us an excellent opportunity to walk around and explore the tiny town and the Bassin d’Arcachon.
The Bassin d’Arcachon (English “basin”, though I might call it a “bay”) is interesting because the level of water rises and falls significantly with the tide every 6 hours. So during some hours of the day you can swim and boat in the bay, whereas during other parts of the day, you’ll be walking on land in that same area.
The Bassin d’Arcachon is well-known for its oysters which are found on oyster beds throughout the bay. As a result, there are many producteurs ostréicoles (English,”oyster producers/farmers”) all over Cap Ferret. One side of their shop faces the street where customers can buy the oysters, and the other side of their shop faces the bay where the oysters farmers collect the oysters. The result is that the oysters are fresh and delicious! We stopped at Cabane 171 for our oyster experience. The wonderful man working there chose 18 oysters for us and even gave us lessons on how shuck them (thankfully, we kept all our digits intact). We carried them home and ate them on our terrace with a nice glass of white wine.
Oysters were not the only seafood that can be found in this area. We also ate at an excellent restaurant, L’Escale. Yes, it’s a little pricey and yes, it’s a little touristy, but you can’t beat the views (looking over the Bassin d’Arcachon) and the delicious Moules Frites (English, “mussels & fries”). Probably the best Moules Frites I’ve had so far in France!
Near the tip of Cap Ferret stands the distinguished Le Phare du Cap Ferret (English, “lighthouse”). It’s quite a hike up to the top, but we were rewarded with beautiful views of the peninsula.
The Bassin d’Arcachon sits at one side of this peninsula. On the other side lies the Atlantic Ocean. After 2 years of living on the Mediterranean Sea, I must say I missed the loud roar of the powerful ocean waves.
We left the tranquil Cap Ferret with a few parting shots at the tip, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bassin d’Arcachon, creating some fabulous waves…
Places to Go
- Le Phare du Cap Ferret, 4 Prom. Tour du Phare Cap Ferret, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret, http://phareducapferret.com
Places to Eat
- La Cabane 171, 190B Route du Cap Ferret, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret, https://www.facebook.com/Cabane171
- Restaurant L’Escale, Allée de Belisaire, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret, http://www.lescale-restaurant.com