travel

See You At The Cape (Part 3)

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Treatments For Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

The cycle paths on the cape pass through dense pine forest. The trees on the Atlantic side, under the action of the powerful west wind, all lean back at the same slight angle, like neat italic handwriting inscribed on the powder-blue notepaper of the sky. I pedaled off in search of a coastal spot called Le Truc Vert, just because the name intrigued me: “the green thing”. I abandoned my bike when the pathway got too soft and sandy, and walked the last quarter of a mile to the ocean. There was nothing green to be seen, not even the ocean, which was grey, hoary and ragged, like the gnarled shell of an oyster. The swell looked dangerous to me, but was clearly a paradise for surfers, who were barreling landward by the dozen.

Description: The Atlantic beaches are popular with surfers;

The Atlantic beaches are popular with surfers;

Description: A villa in Arcachon’s ville d’hiver;

A villa in Arcachon’s ville d’hiver;

Description: Chez Hortense in Cap Ferret, which has been serving seafood since the 1920s.

Chez Hortense in Cap Ferret, which has been serving seafood since the 1920s.

 

The sand beneath my feet, which had been as hot and yielding as fresh-baked at the landward side, grew firmer and colder as I approached the water. At the sea’s edge, the sun was reflected in the saturated sand like a carelessly dropped doubloon. I stopped to look around me. The roar of the waves was unceasing; they were rolling in as if from an industrial production line. The noise had a strange isolating effect: although I could see other people on the vast expanse of sound, some of them quite close by, I could hear nothing but the ocean. Stranger still was the fact that the wind and the waves had somehow conspired to create a chilly, savoury mist I could taste on my tongue. It lent a bleached-out, soft focus to the surroundings, like the dream sequence in a film. In the middle distance, the sea mist cloaked the beach in blurry darkness, though the sun was still high in the sky. It was as if a cold night were loitering with intent to mug the bright, balmy afternoon. It seemed to me that only I could see this strange phenomenon, and it could have felt deeply sinister, but it was in fact beguiling, hypnotic. It added up to the oddest and most memorable quarter of an hour I have ever spent beside the sea.

Description: Clockwise from top left: tarts at Le Bistrot du Bassin; the village of L’Herbe; oyster catch of the day; Arcachon’s ville d’été or summer town; Chez Boulan’s speciality; a pine forest near L’Herbe; Le Bistrot serves 30 desserts daily; Plange de I’Horizon at dusk. Centre, the lagoon at low tide

Clockwise from top left: tarts at Le Bistrot du Bassin; the village of L’Herbe; oyster catch of the day; Arcachon’s ville d’été or summer town; Chez Boulan’s speciality; a pine forest near L’Herbe; Le Bistrot serves 30 desserts daily; Plange de I’Horizon at dusk. Centre, the lagoon at low tide

Description: Cap Ferret – Break for the seaside

Cap Ferret – Break for the seaside

Getting there

EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies from several UK airports to Bordeaux. Cap Ferret is then an hour’s drive.

Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) has a regular service from London to Paris, from where a train to Bordeaux takes three and a half hours.

Where to stay

La Maison du Bassin (00 33 5 56 60 60 63; www.lamaisondubassin.com) is a tiny hotel with immense panache in Cap Ferret. Doubles from $210.

Description: La Maison du Bassin

La Maison du Bassin

Also in the town is Cote Sable (00 33 5 57 17 07 27, www.cotesable,fr), a stylish, modern hotel and spa with views of the bay. Doubles from $293

Where to eat

Le Bistrot du Bassin (00 33 5 56 03 72 46) offers indoor and outdoor dining at La Maison du Bassin. Be sure to book a table in advance. Dinner for two from $90.

Description: Le Bistrot du Bassin

Le Bistrot du Bassin

Reservations are also necessary at Chez Hortense (00 33 5 56 60 62 56); ask for a table with a view across the bay to the Dune du Pilat. Dinner for two from $120. L’Escale (00 33 5 56 60 68 17; www.lescale-restaurant.com) and Pinasses Café (00 33 5 56 03 77 87; www.pinassecafe.com) are two establishments jointed together – you walk through one to reach the other – beside the jetty in Cap Ferret. L’Escale has the slight edge, and so is always marginally busier. Dinner for two from $90 at both. Chez Boulan (00 33 5 56 60 77 32) is an authentic oyster restaurant on the southern side of town. Dinner for two from $120.

Where to drink

Au Bureau (00 33 5 56 83 22 21) is a pleasant café-bar in Arcachon’s ville d’été.

Description: Au Bureau

Au Bureau

The bar at L’Hôtel de la Plage (00 33 5 56 60 50 15) in L’Herbe is a locals’ haunt in one of the cape’s prettiest villages.

Le Mirador (00 33 5 56 60 64 19) is a decent café-restaurant at the end of the cape.

What to do

Visit the market in Arcachon (open Tuesday to Sunday) and buy ingredients for a beach picnic. Hire a bicycle; there are lots of cycle routes, and the villages are worth exploring.

Locabeach (www.locabeach.com) is a good bike-hire shop with several locations. Take a boat trip to Ile aux Oiseaux (www.bassin-arcachon-info.com), where you can see the cabanes tchanquées up close.

Weather to go

From May to July when the average daytime temperature is 23°C

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