10:30 am – First stop is L’Aiguillon – it’s the neighbourhood as you enter town. With the fishing port and marina, it’s where we have our little routines with two of our favourite places when visiting Arcachon: la "Poissonnerie de l'Aiguillon" and "La Cabane de l'Aiguillon".
The fish market is well known to regulars for its quality and range of produce, not to mention the ever-friendly welcome, even when the crowds are bustling in high season.
Our culinary purchases begin with shrimp, octopus salad, and the renowned crab à la macédoine (i.e. diced veggies) that we enjoy every summer as an appetizer.
Then we head to "La Cabane de l’Aiguillon" to pick up a few oysters. Authentic products accompanied by a warm welcome and oyster tasting on the waterfront… it’s really one of our favourite spots. For those who don’t like oysters there is even a menu of little things to munch on to keep everyone at the table happy.
Since it’s a little early for our stomach to be tasting oysters right then and there, we get some to-go for lunch later. Pack them all up in the cooler and continue on our way to the centre of Arcachon.
11:30 am – Now we’re strolling in the heart of Arcachon, down its pedestrian streets and around its pretty covered market where we make more foodie purchases with some tasty bread, fruits and vegetables.
Next we head to Avenue Gambetta to round out our lunch menu with a few quality products from La Belle-Iloise. We’ve been coming to this shop for years and always want to try everything. There’s a wide variety of delicious products, the packaging is super pretty and we’re greeted with a smile there, too.
Once we’ve finished our shopping, we go for a walk along the waterfront and the Thiers pier, where Cap-Ferret can be seen just across the Bay.
1 pm – The ocean air has made us hungry so we take off towards Les Abatilles – the area known for its spring water and where some family relatives are staying. We have lunch on their terrace in the shade of some oak trees, treating ourselves to all the great produce purchased earlier in the day.
A nice find is the tartare with seaweed from Brittany and olives spread on little toasts, and the Indie Veggie: a ready-to-heat & eat recipe made with seaweed, vegetables, coconut milk and curry.
3 pm – We decide to go for a stroll in Arcachon’s Ville d’Hiver, or winter town, the neighbourhood overlooking the town.
I’m especially fond of this part of town with its pretty homes dating back to the 19th century, an era when people discovered the virtues of sea bathing and the upper classes rushed to enjoy this popular location for water cures. It’s a hilly neighbourhood – perfect for walking off a meal.
We make a detour through the Parc Mauresque where a pinasse is on display. A pinasse is the emblematic boat of the Arcachon Bay, formerly used (and still now to some extent) by fishermen and oyster farmers. What’s different about it is its flat bottom, which keeps it from getting stuck in the sand when the water is shallow.
We end our walk with a steep little climb up the Belvedere (built in 1863 by Paul Régnauld, assisted by Gustave Eiffel himself) to burn off some of the crab dish calories and admire the scenic view from the top, out over the whole bay.
4:30 pm – We walk along the lovely Pereire beach – my favourite because even in the middle of summer, it’s never packed. Lined with pines, the beach still has something unspoilt about it, changing throughout the day with the ebb and flow of the tides.
5 pm – A must-take snack break in Le Moulleau. “Let’s go for ice cream in Le Moulleau” is probably one of our most oft-repeated sentences when on holiday in Arcachon and we always know how everyone will react. The kids are big now but when they were younger, they were entitled to the magical ice cream + merry-go-round combo.
This neighbourhood, located on the road to the Great Dune of Pilat, is where there’s a longstanding ice-cream parlour: "Aux Délices Glacées". It’s been around for over 50 years now and is still as popular as ever (to find it, just look for the long queue on the boulevard). Perfect for enjoying homemade ice cream in all the classic flavours.
But I must admit, I’ve been unfaithful from time to time, going to visit a newcomer, "La Maison du Glacier", that offers traditionally-crafted organic ice cream and above all, wild flavours. For that matter, I fell head over heels for their ‘gazelle horn’ ice cream and its almond-orange blossom flavour.
For us, true happiness is going to eat our ice cream on the pier to admire the Great Dune of Pilat in the distance… When it’s really hot, you can opt for a shady spot at the foot of the pretty little neighbourhood church.
We end this awesome day with one of our summer rituals: a little drink on the waterfront at Le Bikini, a bar & restaurant that can be reached on foot via the beach from Le Moulleau. Good summer!
Gourmet logbook made by La cerise sur le maillot.