For the last four years I’ve travelled to Cap Ferret throughout the seasons but have spent most of my time there during the summer months. Cap Ferret is a headland positioned at the south end of the point of Lège-Cap-Ferret in the region of Aquitaine, Gironde. It’s a very quiet, subtle place but not somewhere you will ever forget. A 45 minute drive south west from bustling Bordeaux lies this locals oasis, known for its empty Atlantic beaches lining the West side of the Point and its beautifully calm bays sheathed with oyster beds for miles on the Eastern side.
Lège-Cap-Ferret is a place typically reserved for a weekend hideout for Bordelaise and Parisian families. It’s somewhere you are very unlikely to find another English person but over the last few years has caught the attention of the international community starring in articles in Vogue, Conde Nast traveller and the New York Times.
I have to mention my favourite restaurant in the entire world; La Cabane D’Edouard. Minimalist in Décor and menu this beautiful Oyster Cabane is back and better than ever after suffering a tragic fire a year ago. It consists of purposefully mismatched wooden tables and chairs with strings of fairy lights intertwined around poles and hanging from the wicker ceiling whilst guests are shaded by various plants and vines. Perched right on the edge of the bay in Claouey where the oysters are fished, you have a clear view of the entire bay with boats bobbing or in the cases of a low tide; the mudflats where the boats sit beached for the evening.
Oyster Cabanes come in spades, in fact right next to Cabane D’Edouard is another two incredible Degustations. With the classic menu of oysters in 3 different sizes and the typical accompaniment of pâté (of course after white and rosé wine). Bowls of plump garlicky mussels are also a favourite of Cabane D’Edouarde, alongside langoustines and a recent adaptation of the classic oysters to feature a special twist such as gratine oysters and coconut milk, cucumber and oil as another option. You will never be let down by Cabane D’Edouard.
Lège-Cap-Ferret consists of many different villages. Where I stay for example, Claouey, in the mornings features women in summer dresses riding bikes through the town on the many cycle paths that define the whole peninsula, with full baskets of baguettes, vegetables and pastries. It’s a very understated and calm place filled with picturesque scenes such as this. Claouey is an idyllic beach town with not a care in the world.
Just a short bike ride away is the Village of L’herbe, most find their way there through the cycle paths in the pine forests. A beautiful village with a vibrant church and a rainbow of pastel coloured shutters on the houses make a maze for visitors to fight their way through to get to the clump of oyster shacks on the other side. The white, wooded cabins are exclusively owned by oyster farmers – some of which are so close to the shore that when the tide is high the sea water rises so far up the sand that it makes its way through the first few lines of houses and fills the maze like pathways with cold salt water. Discarded oyster shells litter the pathways a dime a dozen here.
Neighbouring villas may be worth tens of millions but L’herbe firmly remains a locals haven with small, classic houses leaving you all the time to submerge yourself in the history of the village and cycle between oyster shacks.
As Vogue confesses ‘Cap Ferret is the laid-back French beach town of your dreams.’ An important selling point is the fact it is very close to and has a clear view of the tallest sand dune in Europe just across the bay. Next to that sand dune is Arcachon, a mere 10 minute ferry trip across the bay from the Cap.
Cap Ferret is often confused with Cap Ferrat. Everyone knows Cap Ferrat, the glitzy and glamorous area on the Cote d’Azur famous for its distinguished visitors including Charlie Chaplin and Picasso as well as more modern visitors such as Beyoncé. On the surface it appears there is little in common between the two except for the fact they are both by the sea. Cap Ferret is too laid-back, too simple, there is not a single superyacht or sports car in sight. In their place are sailing boats, Degustation’s and vintage cars lining the streets. However, the Cap has it’s own fair share of special visitors including David Guetta and Marion Cotillard but instead of ostentatious villas they stay in modern glass like boxes or wooden chalets painted a dark green to blend into the surrounding pine forests for the ultimate level of privacy. The area of Lège-Cap-Ferret has remained quiet and private with its most important accolades consisting of its thriving oyster farming industry, quiet beaches promoting complete relaxation, vintage hotels and the extraordinary view across the bay to the Dune du Pilat. This is all despite being compared to an up and coming Hamptons by The Sunday Times.
At La Pointe du Cap Ferret is not only a wonderful view of the Bay of Arcachon and the Dune but also the Atlantic. This part of the Atlantic beach features many second world war bunkers covered in bright neon graffiti scattered across the beach whilst some are already covered by the ever advancing dunes running the distance of the Peninsula. When the tide is high the bunkers are used as jumping off points by children to dive into the sea. If you are interested in the remnants of world war two that have been left behind then the cemented pathways lining the Atlantic side of the peninsula will interest you further – now used as cycle paths the wide cemented pathways (cracked from large pine trees roots stretching beneath them) lie the pathways used to transport tanks up and down the peninsula. Despite its fascinating history, the Atlantic beaches are unbelievably quiet, surrounded by the pine forests that protect the landscape from development and prevent disrupting the magnificent view that is thus far completely unobstructed in all directions. Beach goers leave their bikes tied to the pine trees before scrambling to the top of the dunes with a view like no other from the top down to the wide beaches sparsely populated by locals with massive waves that line the shore.
An honourable mention must go to a restaurant named ‘L’escale’ which features an uninterrupted view across to the Dune with the traditional rows of wooden poles sticking out of the water indicating an oyster farm below with of course brilliant sea food but also an incredible steak tartare. An added bonus is that it is situated right next to where the ferry docks from Arcachon.
If you are looking to eat superb seafood, stroll around beautiful markets and relax on the beach then Lège-Cap-Ferret is most definitely for you.
Thank you for reading!