The unassuming waterfront resort town is a breath of fresh Atlantic Ocean air.
Think French seaside and you probably picture the Côte d’Azur’s sapphire waters and gilded sun, glossy superyachts and glitzy bling. Time to reset the splashy scene and leave the world of Cap Ferrat. With a switch of a vowel, we’re in Cap Ferret, unassuming contender for the title of France’s most alluring coastal town.
Cap Ferret is at the tip of the peninsula separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Bassin d’Arcachon, the bay area nominated by the French as the ultimate holiday-house address. Actress Marion Cotillard – who fell for the place while filming Little White Lies – has a home here, as does designer Philippe Starck, who is no style slouch. There’s an authentic, understated charm to Cap Ferret and its sister villages that eases it into the global trend of holidaying as the locals do.
Follow the espadrille tracks of chic French trippers and take a train from Bordeaux to the pretty Belle Époque town of Arcachon then cross the bay by ferry, past the oyster beds. Celebrate your arrival in Cap Ferret at the Pinasse Café by the jetty.
There are several boutique hotels nearby but for an immersive experience, rent an oyster fisherman’s cabin-style house. And plan to do… not much at all. Sure, you can cycle through pine-fragranced forests, twirl up the lighthouse for the panorama or kitesurf on windswept Atlantic Ocean waves. But Cap Ferret is most at home in relaxed mode. Stroll and loll, greet fishermen as they shuck their day’s haul at the quaint dining shacks then enjoy a Kir at La Maison du Bassin. For dinner, Chez Hortense (26 Avenue du Sémaphore; +33 5 5660 6256) is an institution. Pair the garlic-infused mussels and salt-laced fries with a glass of crisp white bordeaux while looking across the bay at the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune, as it turns a darker shade of gold under the setting sun. As the locals would sigh, “La vie est belle.”