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Lège-Cap-Ferret is a narrow peninsula that sits on the western part of Arcachon Bay about an hour or two drive from Bordeaux, depending on traffic. Albeit its growing popularity, notably among Parisians, Cap Ferret managed to keep its raw atmosphere of simplicity and tranquility. The area consists of twelve little villages, one of them being the town of Cap Ferret, located in the south part of the peninsula. Its position between the bay and the Ocean turns it into an amazing place for a summer vacation with tens of small village beaches and wilder ones on the ocean side.

In this article, I’ll help you discover the most beautiful beaches in Cap Ferret. It’s important to note that during the low tide, it’s impossible to swim on the bay side and it’s thus very important to check out the tide hours before going. Here’s a site where you can see when the tide is high enough to enjoy the beach.

The best beaches in Cap Ferret
The best beaches in Cap Ferret – by lost in Bordeaux

If you have a few days to spend in Arcachon I have two other articles you might want to read. One is about all the best places to visit in Arcachon Bay and the other is a detailed guide for visiting Arcachon (the town) and the dune

One last thing before we start, traffic to Cap Ferret can be quite heavy, especially in the summer. So you can either try to get there as early as possible or stay the night :). If you love camping check out my article about the most recommended camping sites in Cap Ferret. If camping is not your thing, here are a few recommended hotels in Cap Ferret: Domaine du Ferret Balnéo & Spa in the north part of the peninsula, the 4- star hotel Hôtel Côté Sable in the center of Cap Ferret town, or Les Chambres du Phare, a beautiful bed and breakfast, located near the lighthouse of Cap Ferret. 

You can also rent a house near the beach, here are two recommendations: Cabane Japajo, a wooden cabin on the beach of le Four, or this rental unit in Claouey. Both are located in cute villages in the north of the peninsula. 

Now let’s dive into the most beautiful beaches in Cap Ferret

The best beaches in Lège Cap Ferret

La Plage des Américains

La Plage des Américains - cap ferret
La Plage des Américainsby lost in Bordeaux

Visiting the peninsula, many people go straight to Cap Ferret, which is the largest village in Lege Cap Ferret. You can find a number of nice beaches here, including the central one, but the best one in my opinion, is the Plage des Americains. This little piece of heaven is located a few minutes’ walk from jetée de Belisaire, the pier of Cap Ferret.  The narrow beach with its beautiful water and the forest behind it will immediately put you in a state of tranquility. It feels like nothing in the world could bother you here. When the tide is low you can get there walking on the beach from the main pier of Cap Ferret. 

Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux

Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux - beach in Cap Ferret
Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux – lost in Bordeaux

One of the most popular beaches in Cap Ferret is Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux. The beach is located right next to a little oyster-port and you can see plenty of pinasses (oyster farming boats) floating on the calm waters of the bay. When the tide is low you can enjoy a beautiful walk on the beach and then continue into the foresty route located at the southern part of the beach. If you continue to ’avenue de la Pointe aux Chevaux’ you will reach a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the beach. 

Finish your day with a plate of oysters at La Dégust du Grand Coin, which is located right on the beach. The beach is located between the two port-towns of Grand Piquey and Petit Piquey. Access to the beach is easier from the latter.  

And here’s a pro tip from me, make the effort to get there early in the morning to see the amazing sunrise. If you’re not an early bird, you can do it in the winter when the sun rises after 8 am. 

Plage de la Truquette

Plage de la Truquette - hidden gem in Cap Ferret
Plage de la Truquette -by lost in Bordeaux

Plage de la Truquette is a little hidden gem located right to the north of Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux. The beach is tucked in Foret Dromanile de la Lege et Garonne, so the access there goes through the forest. It’s one of the rawest beaches in Cap Ferret with solely the pine forest in the background. 

Another way to access it would be through the little oyster port of Petit Piquey, Les Parcs de l’Impératrice. Park the car at the oyster park and walk through the Impasse des Pecheurs to get to the beach.

This beach is located in Petit Piquey which has plenty of cute little shops on its main road. 

Plage de l’Herbe

L'herbe - one of the most beautiful villages in Cap Ferret
l’Herbe – by Lost in Bordeaux

L’Herbe is definitely my favorite place on Bassin d’Arcachon. Nothing matches the charm of this little village with its colorful oyster farmers’ cabins. Along the shore, you can find a handful of little oyster cabins where you can eat fresh oysters accompanied by white dry wine. 

In the north of the village, you’ll find the main beach, Plage de l’Herbe. It’s a small beach with a few vacation houses of people that are coming here every year. It’s one of the most kids-friendly beaches on Bassin d’Arcachon with plenty of space for them to run around even when the tide is high. 

When you go to l’Herbe you must do the little trail to the upper part of the village and enjoy the view of the cabins from the top. To go up, take the stairs from the southern part of the beach (just next to the public toilets ).

The best beaches in Cap Ferret – Ocean side 

Plage Du Truc Vert

Plage Du Truc Vert - on the Atlantic ocean
Plage Du Truc Vert – by lost in Bordeaux

Surfers’ favorite, le Truc Vert is one of the wildest beaches in the region. This beach is so long that if you walk far enough, you’ll have the beach all for yourself.   

The beach is located on the ocean side of Cap Ferret and you have to walk a bit to get there. Park your car in the forest near the Truc Vert camping. Then cross the route Forestiere du Truc Vert and walk along the path to the Truc Vert beach. 

If you have little kids who hate walking (like mine do) I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going there. Otherwise, it’s a perfect beach for surfers and anyone who loves the ocean and long walks on the beach. 

Plage du Grand Crohot

Grand Crohot beach is located on the Ocean side of the Cap Ferret peninsula. As opposed to the calm water on the side of the Bassin d’Arcachon, on the ocean side, the waves are strong, making it a surfing paradise. This beautiful white sand beach attracts both kite surfers and families that love to swim in the ocean.  In the summer the beach tends to be quite busy and sometimes parking can be an issue so try to come early. If you’re coming with kids, this beach is supervised during the summer. The beach is located in the north part of the peninsula which makes it a good choice if you want to avoid the heavy traffic of Lege Cap Ferret. 

Plage de la Pointe Cap Ferret

Plage de la Pointe Cap Ferret
Plage de la Pointe Cap Ferret – by lost in Bordeaux

Plage de la Pointe Cap Ferret is located at the most southern point of the Cap Ferret Peninsula which makes it one of the most special places in Arcachon. Due to its position, you can see both the ocean and the famous Dune du Pilat on the other side of the Bay. The beach is quite isolated and requires a bit of a walk to get to. 
It’s important to note that due to the strong current of the bay it’s considered quite dangerous for swimming. Also, due to the erosion of the Cap Ferret point, the beach can be closed to the public from time to time. However, when open, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in our region. 

Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter with where I share all the best events in the region and all my other Bordeaux discoveries. I send an email every Fiiday in the afternoon– sign up here.

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches, and villages 
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Arcachon is the main town on the Bassin d’Arcachon, a bay of the Atlantic ocean that attracts many visitors from  Bordeaux. Less than 60 km separates the capital of the Southwest from Arcachon and its beautiful villas, clear blue beaches and delicious seafood. This is also one of the main osticulture (oysters farming) centers of France so eating oysters is a “must” when coming to the area. I know many of my readers are less enthusiastic about oysters than the French are, but don’t worry, this place is a gem even if you’re not a fan of “huitres“. In this article, I will walk you through the best things you can do in Arcachon, where you should eat and even how to get there.  

I have to warn you though, Arcachon is one of the most popular sea resorts in France and in the summer, it’s flooded with tourists and locals alike. The best time to go there is either May-June or September. To avoid the crowded places you can visit one of the other charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon, such as la Teste de buch and Gujan Mestras. There are other amazing towns in the north and west parts of the bay, such as Andernos les Bains and Cap Ferret. However, in my opinion, if it’s your first time in Arcachon, you can by no means miss the incredible Dune du Pilat, south of the bay, and so I’ve focused my recommendations on that area.  
If you’re looking where to stay in Arcachon here’s my article about the best camping sites in Arcachon and Cap Ferret

Arcachon is divided into 4 regions: the summer city is the city center with walkways and restaurants; the winter city is adorned with beautiful 19th-century villas; the autumn city includes the fishing area; and the spring city covers the most beautiful beaches in the Southern part of the bay. In most cities, people usually get to visit only the city center, but in Arcachon each part offers something completely different and you have to visit at least three to fully discover it. To help you do just that I’ve made a list of all the places I think you should visit and things you should do while in Arcachon. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Best things to do in Arcachon

La Ville d’Eté – the main beach and the Arcachon market

The summer city is the touristic center of Arcachon. Typical to most towns in the region it has a nice pedestrian area with plenty of restaurants and boutiques. You can start your visit directly on the waterfront, just stroll along the beautiful promenade next to the main beach (Plage d’Arcachon). Its location on the Arcachon bay protects it from the threatening waves of the Atlantic Ocean and makes it the safest beach for kids. During the summer this beach tends to be very crowded so you might consider searching for a quieter one in Ville de Printemps (see below).

Arcachon Market
Arcachon market

One of the main attractions in Arcachon’s city center is the main market, Marché d’Arcachon. Like many towns in the area, Arcachon too has a fantastic covered market gathering plenty of food stands with local delicacies. The best thing is that the market is open daily from mid-June to mid-September and from Tuesday to Saturday the rest of the year so you can rely on it for great home-cooked meals or just a breakfast snack. In the summer, a night market takes place several days a week, with stands of clothes, accessories, jewelry and more. The night market is open until 23:00 (for the dates click here).

La Ville d’Hiver – Beautiful villas and the main park of Arcachon

The Architecture of La Ville d’Hiver

This neighborhood might not be the city center but La Ville d’Hiver is definitely the most beautiful part of Arcachon. The winter town, built on the hills of the city in the late 19th century, attracts many visitors thanks to its gorgeous architecture. Strolling the calm – green streets you will discover beautiful villas, each designed with different elements, giving the neighborhood an elegant yet eclectic style. Among the 300 villas, there are a few that should not be missed, among them Villa Tolledo, Villa Teresa, Villa Alexandre Dumas, and Villa Bremontier. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city.

ville d'hiver Arcachon

Parc Mauresque – a beautiful park with a panoramic view

Overlooking La Ville d’Eté you will find the charming Parc Mauresque, built in 1843. It’s located on a hill which you can spot right from the city center. If you don’t want to climb too many stairs, there’s a lift that will bring you all the way up to the park’s center. That’s also the best way to pass from the summer city to winter city.  The park is equipped with great playgrounds for kids and many cute spots for a picnic. This would be a great time for a picnic before heading to the beach.

Just next to the park, you’ll find the Observatoire de Sainte Cécile, a belvedere built from metal on which you can climb to see an incredible panoramic view of the Arcachon Bay. If it reminds you of the Eiffel Tower, that’s because Gustave Eiffel took part in the project!. The site is open daily and is free.

The beaches of La Ville de Printemps

The best beaches of Arcachon are located in “Spring town”, the western part of the city. The most famous beach is Plage Pereire, which starts right after the pedestrian promenade (bordered by Jetée de la Chapelle). It’s a beautiful three km beach with white sand and a view of the Cap Ferret peninsula on the other side of the bay. This beach is equipped with many sports facilities, a cycle path and green lawns for people to have a picnic on.

If you walk south on the beach line, you’ll get to Plage des Abatilles and des Arbousiers, the last one attracting the windsurfers and kite surfers coming to the area. Most beaches in Arcachon are supervised and well-equipped, so you just have to choose between the calmer beaches on the bay or the big ocean waves.

A visit to Le Moulleau

Day trip from Bordeaux
Le Moulleau beach

Le Moulleau, located in the far west, is officially a part of the city of Arcachon. However, in reality, it feels like a completely separate little resort town with its own center, beaches and restaurants. Le Moulleau is built around the beautiful Notre Dame des Passes square and its pier. There are several restaurants on the main street (Boulevard de la côte d’argent) and the Chemin des Pères promenade. The hotels and some restaurants in Le Moulleau are quite pricey as the area attracts a lot of wealthy French tourists. The resort is located mid-way between the center of Arcachon and the famous Dune du Pilat, so this could be a nice stop on the way there. If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to the main street of Moulleau.

Take a boat to go eat lunch in Cap Ferret

oysters in arcachon

If you’re around Le Moulleau during lunchtime, you can upgrade your lunch to a fun adventure. Just in front of Le Moulleau beach lies the peninsula of Cap Ferret. It’s one of the most charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon and is known particularly for its oyster farming. Many people go there from Arcachon just for a few hours to eat the freshest oysters in one of the restaurants on the beach. The village is located on the other side of the bay so going there by car will take more than an hour. But you can totally skip the long route and go by sea. From April to mid-September there’s a ferry that takes you from le Moulleau to Cap Ferret in just 20 minutes (leaving from Jetée du Moulleau). You can also take the ferry from the center of Arcachon, which takes 30 minutes to reach  Cap Ferret. For the schedule and tickets reservation click here.

A boat trip to Iles aux Oiseaux and the Cabanes Tchanquées

Arcachon Bay is not just another resort town. The biodiversity and natural conditions which helped its famous oyster farming industry also make for fascinating adventures. If you really wish to discover the Bassin d’Arcachon beyond its beautiful beaches visit two of its landmarks, Les Cabanes Tchanquées and L’Ile aux Oiseaux. Les Cabanes Tchanquées, the two wooden huts decorating almost every postcard in Arcachon, are one of the most emblematic symbols of the bay. They were originally used for supervising the oysters’ farms but are no longer in use and can only be seen from outside. L’Ile aux Oiseaux, the birds’ island, owes its name to the many birds that reside in the Island yearlong.

There are several companies that offer both group and private tours to these and other parts of the bay. You can go by regular boat or by pinasse, which is a traditional boat from Arcachon. The tours are usually in French but many of the guides speak some English and can easily explain the most important details. The tour leaves from Jetée Thiers, located on the main beach of Arcachon. You can also get more information about different tours in the tourist office.

Dune du Pilat – the amazing sand dune

Note – As a result of the fires in Gironde during the summer of August 2022, the parking at the dune site is currently closed and you need to take a bus to get there. See all the details in my post.

If there’s one thing in this list I consider a “must” it’s definitely this one. The gigantic sand dune is one of the wonders of the area, with its 60 million metric cubes of sand it’s quite astonishing the first time you see it. Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune, rising to an impressive 110 m high.  It’s also 500 meters wide and 2.7 km long so you’ll have plenty of room to wander. You can climb the dune by stairs that are installed from the end of May to early November. If you come during the low season or just feel energetic, you can just climb straight up the sandy slopes.

Dune du Pilat Arcachon
Dune du Pilat

Once you reach the top, a stunning panoramic view will be revealed with the Cap Ferret peninsula on one side a huge pine forest on the other and the magnificent Banc d’Arguin nature reserve just in front.  After working so hard climbing the dune, you can slide to the other side (when the sand is not too hot of course) and go straight to the beach. If you’re not in a rush you can easily spend the day here, have a nice picnic and swim in the crystal clear water. It’s hard to describe the beauty of this site in words, you really must see it yourself.

If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to Dune to Pilat.  

Discover Arcachon by Bike

There are many bike paths and roads with very little traffic in the Bassin d’Arcachon which makes it a perfect place to discover by bicycle. The bike lanes go along most of the waterfront and lead from one beach to the other quite easily. You can also take the circuit from the center of Arcachon to Dune du Pilat and go through le Moulleau and Pyla sur Mer, the village where Dune du Pilat is located. To follow the path see the map here. There are many bike rental places in Arcachon where you can rent a bike for a few hours or for the whole day, see their details here.

Have a drink at la Co(o)rniche

Credit: Booking

La Co(o)rniche is a 5-star hotel designed by Philippe Starck with the most amazing view of the bassin. The hotel is luxurious and expensive so it’s for special occasions, but you can still enjoy the stunning view with a cocktail in the terrasse. The Co(o)rnice is just a few minutes by car from the Dune du Pilat.

Theater and Casino

If you want to finish your day with an artistic program, go ahead to Theater Olympia. This great theater hosts a variety of shows and concerts almost every night. For more details and tickets click here. If you’re staying the night in Arcachon you can also check out the Casino located in the city center.

Where to eat in Arcachon

There’s quite a few restaurants in Arcachon, but you should know where to go in order to avoid tourist traps. A few good places are located right at the market.

Le Bouchon du marché is located in the heart of the market with plenty of tables outside as well. The restaurant serves excellent local food, is open daily and has a great vibe to it. The market is also a good opportunity to taste some of the best oysters in Arcachon. l’Oyster Bar is an excellent spot to taste the local delicacies as well as other seafood. If you want to enjoy a better view, go to Chez Pierre located on the main beach of Arcachon.

You don’t have to stay in the city center for Lunch, there are some nice spots in Le Moulleau as well, among them is Le Jardin with the magnificent terrace and the Royal Moulleau on the riverfront. For desserts head to the center of Moulleau where you can find plenty of great ice cream on every corner.

For special occasions, there are several fine dining places worth mentioning, among them Thierry Renou’s Le Patio on the port of Arcachon. You can also stop for lunch at the Haaitza hotel which has an amazing restaurant, located just a few minutes by car or bicycle from the Dune du Pilat.   

Ha(a)ïtza Arcachon
Ha(a)ïtza Credit: Booking.com

How to get to Arcachon and where to park?

By public transport

The easiest way to get to Arcachon is by train from the Saint-Jean station in Bordeaux. The train leaves every 30 to 60 minutes depending on the hour (with a break of two hours between 9:00 and 11:00). It takes about 50 minutes to get there and if you want to avoid traffic this is how I recommend getting to Arcachon. However, the train tickets aren’t cheap so if you’re more than two people, renting a car is a better option. It’s a local train without seat reservation and tickets can be bought online or at the station. See the hours of the trains here.

By Car

It can take about an hour to get from Bordeaux to Arcachon, depending on traffic. During the summer, the bay is packed with locals and tourists so the traffic can be a bit heavy. If you’re planning to visit only the town of Arcachon and the dune, getting there by train would be the easiest option.

However, if you also want to visit some of the other magical spots on the bay, a car is a more practical way to get around. Except Dune du Pilat mentioned above, there are plenty of other fascinating places you can visit on the way, such as the oyster capital Gujan-Mestras and the Teich bird reserve.    

By air

The Bordeaux airport in Merignac is less than an hour drive from the Bassin d’Arcachon. You can rent a car at the airport and avoid entering the city if you’re planning to go straight to Arcachon. If you want to do everything by public transport, take bus number 1 from the airport to the train station and a train to Arcachon from there, as explained above. There’s also an airport for private jets if you want to make a classy entrance to the bay 😉

Parking

If you’re coming in low season parking is not a big issue. Between October 1st and March 31, you can park in most of the streets of Ville d’hiver which is only a few minutes walk from the city center. However, during the summer, finding free parking is nearly impossible and you should get familiar with some of the parking spaces the city proposes. On July and August, the cheapest way to park in Arcachon is to leave your car at the Parking Relais, and then take their Navette to the city center and other parts of Arcachon. Some other parking places in the city include the Parking du centre ville, Parking de la gare, Parking place de Verdun, Parking place Peyneau and Parking place Carnot.

The main events

Arcachon is a very lively place with plenty of entertaining events. Besides the local small events taking place throughout the year, there are several big ones you should pay attention to when planning your visit.

Andernos Jazz Festival at the end of July – a jazz festival in one my favorite towns on the bay (Andernos les Bains). This place was not mentioned in the article as it’s located a bit far from the city of Arcachon but if you come during the festival I highly recommend going there.

Music O Teich in July – a world music festival with free concerts every night on the port of Teich.

Fêtes de la mer in August – the city celebrates the sea and its maritime traditions. Festival Arcachon en Scéne at the end of July, beginning of August – a big music festival you should check out

Festival Cadences  in September – a dance festival on the beach and at the Olympia theater.

Cabanes en fete in December – another fun event celebrating oysters, taking place in Andernos les Bains.

To be honest, this area is pretty amazing even without any special events but those definitely add to the fun atmosphere of the Bassin d’Arcachon.

That’s it, that’s my first article about the Bassin d’Arcachon.  As someone who lives close by I know that there’s plenty more to do around the bay. However, some of the other towns deserve a separate article, that’s exactly what I intend to do in the future. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this list!

If you’re also visiting Bordeaux be sure to check out my post about the best things to do in the city and the best hotels in Bordeaux. Arcachon is not the only day trip you can do from Bordeaux. The area is full of historic villages and beautiful nature. If you want to discover some of them, I invite you to read my article about the best day trips you can do by train from Bordeaux.

Finally, if you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a three hours journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.

Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.