Cap Ferret – An Active Holiday Guide
Cap Ferret is a smart seaside resort at the tip of the Cap Ferret peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Bay of Arcachon. Hidden among pine trees with its fishermen and oyster farmers in their traditional wooden huts, Cap Ferret harks back to a bygone era.
The laid-back peninsula with its serene lapping sea on one side and crashing Atlantic waves on the other is renowned for its delicious seafood. And although it’s a well-healed holiday resort, there are plenty of good oyster bars and seafood restaurants that won’t break the bank (see Where to eat below).
Cap Ferret is popular with surfers who head to famous breaks like Le Truc Vert, l’Horizon and La Pointe. But with over a dozen named spots on the peninsula there should be no reason to have to surf a crowded peak.
Thanks to the direct transport links from Bordeaux, Cap Ferret is a popular weekend getaway for busy urbanites.
Our guide to Cap Ferret will take you through the area’s outdoor activities, the best places to stay and eat and all the highlights this sandy peninsula on France’s west coast has to offer.
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Cap Ferret Highlights
Cap Ferret makes a great active holiday destination and there’s no shortage of energetic things to pack into your stay. With fine sandy beaches, dense pine forest, calm sea on one side of the peninsula and crashing Atlantic breakers on the other, it’s little wonder why Cap Ferret is a firm favourite with outdoor sports enthusiasts.
Cycle the 120 mile coastal path
Ditch the car and ride the 120 mile cycle path from Cap Ferret round the Bay to Arcachon. Stop at local produce markets to grab supplies for a picnic, or devour a dozen oysters in one of the historical fishing villages along the way.
Cap Ferret Surfing
As you drive south from Lège Cap-Ferret on the D106, you’ll first hit Le Truc Vert, the best known spot on the Cap Ferret peninsula, followed by l’Horizon a bit further south. The unique geography of this region results in constantly shifting sandbanks, so you’ll need to scout the best spot on the day from the dunes. Typically the waves here are fast and hollow and the baïne phenomenon means there are strong rips to watch out for.
The Cap Ferret Lighthouse
Cap Ferret’s most prominent landmark is the 53 m high, red-and-white lighthouse in Le Cap Ferret village. There are stunning views of the surf from the top and interactive exhibits in the visitor’s center. Open from April to September, entry costs €6 for adults and €4 for kids.
Le Phare du Cap Ferret, 4 Promenade Tour du Phare Cap Ferret, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret.
Tel +33 (0)5 57 70 33 30.
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (1 h 5 min)
Pharmacie du cap ferret, Boulevard de la Plage, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret.
La Poste, 84 Avenue de la Mairie, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret.
Taxi du Cap Ferret, 57 Avenue de Bordeaux Cap Ferret, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret.
ParkingMake life a little easier for yourself and take advantage of that congestion-free air by ditching the car. Cap Ferret has several central car parks that work on a pay and display system which can be pricey for a week. If possible leave your car in one of the bay's park and ride facilities and use the free bus or water ferry take you to your final destination. Parking costs €3 a day during July and August.
Embrace Cap Ferret’s slow pace and live like a local by jumping on a push bike and pedaling from place to place using the peninsula’s cycle paths. If you’re looking to explore a bit more of the region, you can always hop across the bay using the nifty water taxi or jump on one of the new electric beach buses that run throughout the summer.
The only way to roll come summer, bike hire is readily available up and down the coast. Lowcost rental company, CycloCap, offer mountain bikes, road bikes, city bikes, tandems, tricycles, trailers and child seats to suit your style. Prices start from €7 and can be booked in advance for pick up in store.
Active Things To Do in Cap Ferret
Cycling the coastal paths in Cap Ferret | © OT Bassin d’Arcachon
Cycle from Cap Ferret to Arcachon
Boasting 200 km of cycle paths, Cap Ferret is pedal pusher heaven., cruise across the bay of Arcachon using their endless cycle paths. The perfect way to experience the stunning lagoonlike waters across the bay and the shaded pine forests protecting the coastline, choose between a number of cycle routes that range in duration, distance and difficulty. Take a break along the way with cultural pit stops for locally sourced oysters, rustic regional delicacies and friendly Gascon hospitality.
Download Cap Ferret cycle routes
Learn to surf
Thanks to the region’s transitional micro climate, conditions on the sunny peninsula twist and turn from lapping waves to beasty barrels. If you’re looking to try your hand at a spot of surfing, explore the exposed Atlantic beaches on the other side of the headland at plage la Garonne. Keeping an eagle eye on the day’s best surf spots, national surf school, ESCF offer customised lessons for groups and individuals, moving up and down the long beach to find you the best shorebreaks.
Climb the 258 steps of Cap Ferret’s historic lighthouse
Jettied at the furthest point of Cap Ferret’s peninsular sits the region’s only lighthouse. An auspicious landmark offering breathtaking 360° views. Follow in the footsteps of former lighthouse keepers and climb the winding stairs to be rewarded with a stunning view of Arcachon Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Dune du Pilat. At low-tide you can look out onto the moored traditional Pinasse boats, exposed oyster farms and golden sand spits that sculpt the region. Access to the lighthouse is €6, which contributes towards the conservation and preservation of the building.
Deep sea fishing in the Atlantic
Cap Ferret is the perfect setting for a seafood BBQ, so why not ditch the local fish market and head out into the Atlantic to catch your own. Whether its a whopping bluefin tuna or maybe, just a minnow, there’s nothing like waving goodbye to dry land for an afternoon and setting sail with your own personal skipper. A popular spot between anglers, the French Atlantic coast is renowned for its prize winning tuna, cuttlefish and mako sharks, gulp! Organise a group trip with charter company, L’Embellie from Cap Ferret’s port.
Sea kayaking round the nature reserve
Inland from the rough and tumble of the Atlantic ocean, take advantage of the bay’s calm waters and paddle out to discover the region’s protected bird island. Set off from the sandy beach at L’Herbe on a twoman sea kayak and glide over the submerged oyster beds, duck under the traditional stilted fisherman’s huts (Cabanes Tchanquées) and slip through the reeds to experience migrating birdlife in all its glory. Offering tours and equipment rental, Glisse en Herbe is located right on the beach front and trips can be booked in advance.
Time to perfect your sun salutations after a day exploring the beautiful coastline, take some time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the beautiful peninsula with a calming beach yoga session. Focusing on meditation, breathing techniques and simple poses, local beach babe, Keala offers a range of sunset and sunrise classes during the summer. Situated on the aptly named Horizon beach, budding yogis can channel their inner chakra whilst gazing out onto the big blue ahead. Yoga sessions are €15 per person.
Where to stay
Le chant des Pins
A five minute walk to the rugged coastline, Le chant des Pins is a quiet guest house situated in the centre of Cap Ferret. Lovingly furnished, the quaint double room is part of a refurbished fisherman’s hut with its own entrance, intimate terrace and private bathroom. With a view of the historical lighthouse, Phare du Cap Ferret, the secluded and easily affordable little luxury provides all the home comforts of a B&B with priceless views a stone’s throw away. Prices start from €90 for two sharing.
Camping Le Truc Vert
300 yards from one of the best surfing spots on the peninsula, Camping Le Truc Vert is ideally situated inland, nestled in the pine trees that protect the golden dunes. A fourstar affair with all the mod cons, choose between safari style tents, comfortable ‘cabanes’, classic caravan pitches and good ol’ tents. Explore the surrounding 10 hectares of forest and head out on a woodland adventure, chill by the pool, or grab your surfboard and head to the beach. Traditional pitches start from €16.50 per day.
La Masion du Bassin
Tucked away down a tiny side street in a local fisherman’s town sits La Masion du Bassin, a rare and unassuming pearl of rustic luxury. Rooms at this boutique guest house relive a golden era of 19th century opulence, Mahogany furnished doubles open out onto the surrounding gardens and the faint sound of crashing waves. Located a few streets inland from the shores of LègeCapFerret, walk barefoot to the beach for early sunrise salutations and late night skinny dips!
Coté Sable hotel and spa
The very essence of rest and relaxation, Coté Sable hotel and Clarins spa offers four star service in a modern and intimate setting. Simultaneously stylish and homely, Coté Sable’s lavish double rooms have been furnished with a mix of old and new, boasting contemporary four poster beds, pebbled splash rooms, plasma tv’s and that all important airconditioning. Secondary to the hotel and restaurant is the Clarins spa, renowned for their dedication to relaxation and wellbeing, the spa offers a range of treatment options from hot stone massages in their Turkish hamam, to revitalising facials from a Clarins beautician.
Where to eat
Chez BoulanA three-generation old oyster hut in the centre of the 'Quartier Ostréicole', Chez Boulon is a traditional shack serving platters of salty oysters with lemon wedges, plates of steamed shrimp, white wine, and little else. A family institution handed down from father to son, the secret to their success lies not in their picturesque location, but in the time and effort Mr. Boulon and his sons spend lovingly tending their harvest. Sat on the shore, guests can grab a chair on the busy terrace and dine al fresco, kick back in a deck chair on the pristine lawn, or preorder a platter togo and sit on the beach with the sand between your toes. 2 Rue des Palmiers, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 60 77 32
Chez HortenseShrouded in a crown of vines, Chez Hortense is a quaint, neighbourly restaurant steeped in history. A family affair since 1938, this traditional seafood taverna has been an institution on the beaches of Cap Ferret for generations. Honouring connections with local fishermen and oyster farmers that stretch back centuries, dinner is an unpretentious and gastronomic delight of pan seared catch of the day and 'Moules frites'. Set in the faint shadow of the Dune du Pilat, Chez Hortense is a celebration of the beauty and biodiversity that makes this region so special. Avenue du Sémaphore, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 60 62 56
Pinasse CaféSat on the edge of the busy jetty, Pinasse Café is a refined lunchtime spot for a glass of crisp white wine and lobster plucked from the sea before you. An upmarket treat, Pinasse Café is a firm favourite with Bordelaise foodies thanks to the level of excellence inherent in grand chef and Michelin star winner, Pascal Nibaudeau's cooking. Boasting a generous menu of fresh fish and local wines, take your seat at the harbour and feast on a platter of calamari, tender crab, gambas prawns and lobster. 2 Bis Avenue Océan, 33950 Cap Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 03 77 87
The Sail FishAnchor's away! The epitome of high society, San Tropez meets Cap Ferret at The Sail Fish. An upmarket institution since the early 80's, The Sail Fish is the spot to see and be seen. A faithful following of artists, musicians and celebrities are commonplace, dining and dancing until the early hours. A world away from the simple oyster shacks down the road, The Sail Fish specialises in sophisticated seafood and late night good times. Not for the fiscally fainthearted, the well-heeled socialites that pack out the dance floor until 2am are happy to pay top dollar for the finest food and cocktails south of Paris. Rue des Bernaches, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 60 44 84
Where to party
A fresh face on the Cap Ferret bar scene, Le Cocotte is a young, relaxed brunchtobar beach shack. ‘The’ hangout for trendy locals and passersby, the small, friendly atmosphere sizzles at the surface with a hum of holidaying urbanites sipping on fashionable rum punch and regional wines. The type of establishment where kicking off your shoes and getting a bit squiffy is encouraged, Le Cocotte is bursting at the seams come early evening as trendsetters swap the beach for the bar – sandy feet and salty hair galore. A two minute walk from Cap Ferret’s vast golden shores, Le Cocotte encapsulates that quintessential surf inspired, beachy feel.
62 avenue de l’océan Cap Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 57 70 59 13
Bar Le Tchanqué
Harking back to a nostalgic time where exclusive gentleman’s clubs ruled supreme, Le Tchanqué is a traditional lounge bar furnished to perfection with big Oxford chairs, crisp linens and the subtle smell of vanilla. Part of the luxury hotel, Le Maison du Bassin, the downstairs bar and terrace is an upmarket destination for predinner drinks and a game of billiards; order a tropically inspired, amber ‘rum arrangé’ with an orange zest and chalk up your snooker cue for a quick game before you set out into the moonlight.
5 Rue des Pionniers Cap Ferret, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 60 49 84
An immaculate, whitewashed lounge bar furnished with repurposed pallet furniture and bleached bamboo tables, White Garden is a relaxed summer spot popular with socialites and stylish locals. Overlooking the marina, summer nights buzz with the chatter of holidaying Parisians and Bordelaise city slickers, whilst their inhouse dj spins some low tempo tunes. Take your place on their immaculate terrace for a glass of champagne as the sunsets behind the bobbing boats on the seafront.
5 Rue du Teinturin, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret
Possibly the craziest cocktail concoctions we’ve ever tasted, La Madrague pushes the envelope when it comes to flavour and table presence! Smoking mojitos, watermelon liqueurs and passion fruit smoothies make this little seafront bar a firm favourite for special occasions and après-beach drinks. Situated on the Grand Crohot beach, wander in after a sunkissed afternoon for a fruity pick-me-up that will definitely put you in the party mood.
Plage du Grand Crohot, Le Grand Crohot, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret. Tel +33 (0)5 56 60 33 54
Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your trip to the Cap Ferret, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this guide. Happy holidays!
About the author
Self-confessed foodie and outdoor sports aficionado, Aimée Whistler has been scoping out hidden gems across France for over five years. From shredding backcountry powder to savouring the finest backyard cuisine, get first-hand suggestions from Active Azur’s most committed Francophile.