Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 03:44 pm
Nestled on France’s stunning Atlantic coastline, Cap Ferret is a hidden gem that attracts travelers seeking a unique blend of natural beauty, culinary delights, and recreational activities.
We spent one full week in this charming coastal resort and managed to explore the area quite well.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best things to do in Cap Ferret, from savoring the local delicacies to exploring picturesque landscapes. Here are the must-visit places in Cap Ferret that you have to put on your itinerary!
Whether you’re spending just a weekend in Cap Ferret, or a week or more, you can make use of this itinerary by choosing the most suitable activities for you. Let’s dive right in!
How to get to Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret is located on the southwest coast of France, specifically in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is situated on the Arcachon Peninsula, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and separates the ocean from the Arcachon Bay.
It’s not exactly a suitable destination for a day trip from Paris, but it’s definitely worth it for a couple of days! You could take the train from Paris to Bordeaux, and then travel onwards to Cap Ferret.
The nearest airport to Cap Ferret is Bordeaux Airport (60 km away), which is also where we landed. From here, you can either take the bus/ train to Arcachon, and then travel by ferry to Cap Ferret (2 hours), or rent a car and drive directly to Cap Ferret (45 minutes).
Renting a car and driving in Cap Ferret
We were surprised by how cheap the car rentals actually were – we got a Mercedes Benz C-Class for 7 days for just over €200. The company that we used was Rentscape and we booked our car through DiscoverCars. We always get our cars from this platform, as we’ve never had any issues and they show you offers from different rent-a-car providers.
The only red flag we got from Rentscape was fact that the lady, who handed us the car, wrote the report with all previous damages in French, even though she knew we didn’t speak any French. It turned out that she had written down that the gas tank was full, when in fact it was less than half. We were lucky to have been able to take a photo of the document and send it to our French host before signing it, so we translated everything for us.
This is something to look out for! Always take photos/videos of the car upon receiving it, and pay attention to what you’re signing.
Driving around Cap Ferret was an absolute joy – the roads are well maintained and aren’t busy. It’s super easy to find your way as there are signs everywhere. Just keep in mind that there are many roundabouts, so if you’re not an expert yet, you’ll definitely become one after driving here!
Best Things to do in Cap Ferret
1. Taste the local delicacy – Oysters
Cap Ferret is famous for its oysters. Not sure how to put it into perspective so you can actually understand the extent to which locals love their oysters. The second largest oyster farm in France is located exactly here.
We were walking around the forest and we saw a big group of French people gathered around a few benches, with a huge bowl of oysters served in the middle of the table. These oysters are just everywhere. 😀
And it’s quite easy for you to get your hands on them! The best way to enjoy some oysters is by visiting one of the local degustation spots along the coast of Cap Ferret. These quaint “restaurants” aren’t actual restaurants – they don’t serve any cooked meals. No fish, no soups, not even french fries…
Instead, they specialize in offering the freshest catch of shellfish, served raw on ice. This is precisely how the locals prefer to eat their oysters, shrimps, sea snails, and other ocean treasures. We ordered a bit of everything, for a full Cap Ferret experience.
2. Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret boasts an extensive coastline with beaches on both the ocean and bay sides. In fact, it ranks among the cities with the longest beachfront in France, stretching over 25 kilometers.
Whether you seek the powerful waves of the Atlantic or the tranquil waters of the bay, you’ll find the perfect spot to soak in the sun, build sandcastles, bathe in the ocean or even go surfing.
What left a huge impression on me was how big and empty were the beaches here! I’m so used to the overcrowded beaches in Bulgaria that it took me by surprise. Indeed, we were there in October which is off-season, but our friend, who is local, said that even in the summer the beaches cannot get full. They’re just huge!
3. Go surfing
As mentioned, Cap Ferret is a great place for surfing, and more specifically the ocean coast of the peninsula. With its extensive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, this coastal town offers some fantastic spots for catching waves.
If you’re new to surfing, Cap Ferret offers surf schools and instructors who can guide you through the basics.
4. Visit L’Herb Village
l’Herbe is a charming fishing village where you can feel the authentic local atmosphere. As you wander through the narrow, winding streets, you’ll encounter quaint cottages, each adorned with vibrant flowers and offering a glimpse into the traditional way of life in this coastal haven. Locals do live in these small houses, so be mindful of that.
With its captivating scenery and a strong connection to the region’s maritime history, L’Herbe village offers a delightful escape from the modern world, making it an essential stop on your Cap Ferret trip.
5. Savor a Michelin-Star Experience at La Pinasse Cafe
Cap Ferret and the area around it surprised me with the amount of Michelin-star restaurants. As someone who had previously never set foot in such a place, I didn’t know that in some parts of the world there could be so many of them close by.
As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, so we decided we couldn’t leave Cap Ferret without having dinner at one of these restaurants. Our choice was La Pinasse Cafe – a beautiful restaurant right at the Arcachon bay, with a beautiful view over the water and Dune du Pilat in the distance.
We took the menu option – for €47 we got a starter, a main course and a dessert. Everything was a delight for the senses and now I see why some restaurants are awarded a Michelin star – from the service, the presentation and the taste of the food, everything was top notch!
6. Visit the Cap Ferret market
To immerse yourself in the vibrant local scene and sample fresh, regional produce, be sure to visit the Cap Ferret market. Here, you’ll find a variety of goods, from clothing, handmade jewelry and paintings from local artists, to delightful food and drinks such as cheese, fruits, seashells and others, all while engaging with the friendly locals and savoring the authentic atmosphere of Cap Ferret.
From mid-June to mid-September, the market is open every day from 8 AM to 1 PM. During the off-season, it’s open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7. Explore Cap Ferret by bike
Exploring Cap Ferret on a bike is not only an eco-friendly way to get around but also a delightful experience. With dedicated bike lanes separated from the road, cycling is both safe and convenient. Cap Ferret’s bike trails stretch over 100 km! You can effortlessly navigate the charming villages, enjoy scenic rides along the coast, and even go to the beach.
There are some spots where you can rent a bike for a set amount of days, making this the preferred method of transportation for many visitors. We were planning on visiting some places that were further away, so we chose to rent a car instead, but our host said he’s moving around on his bike all the time.
8. Go golfing at Cap Golf
For golf enthusiasts, Cap Golf provides an excellent course to test your skills while enjoying a lovely cocktail. Cap Golf is actually a bar that offers the option to play mini golf on an evening out.
We didn’t manage to visit it during our stay, as it was only open during the day while we were out exploring, but it’s something I’d recommend you put on your itinerary if this kind of experiences is your cup of tea.
9. Climb up the Lighthouse for a fantastic view
A visit to Cap Ferret is incomplete without visiting the iconic lighthouse. I mean, it’s put on most local souvenir magnets, so it’s undoubtedly a must-see here.
The lighthouse of Cap Ferret has 258 steps leading to the very top, which may sound like a lot, but once you get there, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Arcachon bay!
10. Explore the WWII Bunker
Near the lighthouse, you’ll find a historical bunker that serves as a reminder of the area’s past. This relic from World War II provides a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history.
This was one of the many bunkers that formed the “Atlantic wall” during WWII. It’s quite small, so a visit takes just a few minutes and it’s free of charge.
11. Discover Arcachon
While Cap Ferret has its own charm, make sure to also visit Arcachon – a coastal town, located about an hour away by car. Or even less by ferry!
This picturesque town, though touristy, is brimming with unique character and charisma. Indulge in the area’s renowned oyster delicacies, explore the vibrant town center, and take leisurely strolls along the seafront promenade.
The center is full of many small shops where you can buy something to bring back home as a souvenir. I found this part of France to be quite pricey (and for a reason – just look around and see what cars are people driving), but I still found some stuff to buy.
One thing I fell in love with was a perfume from a local perfume brand, named ECUME d’Arcachon. They offer these perfumes in quite a few stores, so I literally got 3 bottles of one of their amazing scents – one for me and two as presents.
12. Conquer Dune du Pilat – the tallest sand dune in Europe
The Dune du Pilat, one of the highlights of our (and I’d say any) trip to Cap Ferret, stands as the highest sand dune in Europe.
The dune has a designated paid parking area, and from here it’s quite easy to get to the summit – you can either take the stairs up the dune or challenge yourself and go up the sand.
Once we were up there, we were just mesmerized by the beauty of this place – a forest on one side and the ocean on the other, with the sand dune in the middle… it’s like a painting.
You can walk along the top of the dune, even sit down for a picnic, have some food and enjoy the breathtaking view. We stayed here for at least an hour, just taking it all in.