Cap-Ferret, or officially known as Lège-Cap-Ferret, often gets confused with another glitzy French Riviera resort, Cap Ferrat (the full name of the town is Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat), but the two French beach towns couldn’t be more different – especially in August. If you haven’t heard of Cap Ferrat, you’ve seen it on social media or the cover of a gossip magazine, where famous celebrities take their summer holiday lounging on their yachts not far from the glamor of Monaco and the sparkle of the French Riviera. Cap-Ferret, however, you probably haven’t heard of, and it is a dream vacation in the sweltering summer month of August, when crowds are at a yearly high and your patience might be at a bit of a vacation low point after navigating other more crowded destinations in the heat.
Cap-Ferret (it has it’s own hashtag on instagram, #capferretnotferrat) is a long stretch of shore on the Atlantic coast not far from Bordeaux. It’s famous for its oysters (considered by many to be the best in France) and its ocean and bay beaches, famous with the local Bordelaise for being THE place to go to relax. It’s a laid-back, easy-going beach town that is often times still pleasantly quiet, even in the middle of August. The beach shacks selling oysters and seafood along the sandy dunes, long paths that connect village to village by a leisurely afternoon on the bicycle, pine forests full of wildlife that nestle up against the sea and colorful wooden fisherman’s homes charmingly snuggled one next to the other – this 12 mile peninsula is great stop for relaxation with a hint of the past.
It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have it’s share of wealth like the other “Cap” – but Cap-Ferret is restrained and calm. The old villas are antique and most still in the same families they have been for generations. Though wealthy Parisians do come here and the area has certainly hosted more than a Rothschild or two, the towns are subdued and never make visitors feel like they don’t belong – it’s just the opposite. Cap-Ferret has a feeling of welcoming and familiarity, a beach town of yesteryear that relaxes you right away.
The sand dunes along the coast are also quite impressive, these mini-mountains of sand are quite a hike to get up (like the Grande Dune du Pilat), but the run down the steep side to get to the sea more than makes up for the effort of the climb- it’s a lot of fun, and not just for children.
For gastronomes, Arcachon Bay is the perfect place for oysters. They grow easily here and you can find them at local restaurants but it’s more charming sampling them in smaller places, often times just some picnic benches and tables alongside the pool where the oysters are gathered.
Though Cap-Ferret doesn’t have quite the reputation as the other village that shares almost the same name, it’s a wonderful summer destination and even more so in August, when beaches are as packed as they will be all year. Laid-back, long stretches of empty coast and great food – it’s a wonderful August stop if you are in the Bordeaux area.