A day and a night with Sophie Téchoueyres . . . . .
Sophie Téchoueyres, co-owner of La Co(o)orniche and Ha(a)ïtza, grew up on the Arcachon Bay. We asked her to divulge some of her favourite spots on the bassin
◆ Canoeing on the Leyre river
The Arcachon Bay is full of natural wonders, but few people know about the Leyre river delta. 'It's so heavenly that you forget everything else,' says Sophie.
The Leyre starts in the pine forests of National Park of the Moors of Gascony and stretches more than 100 kilometres until it reaches Arcachon Bay. The delta comprises 30 square kilometres of wetlands, and includes the ornithological park in Le Teich. Rent a canoe or join a small river boat tour.
www.canoesurlaleyre.com, 06 72 76 34 58
◆ Eating caviar
The Esturgeonnière is one of the pioneers in France's caviar trade, having invested in Siberian sturgeons twenty years ago. Sophie is champion of the local caviar, serving it in her restaurants. Visitors will learn how the sturgeon (Acipenser Baeri) are raised for the production of Aquitaine caviar. Visitors can watch a video on methods for extracting the eggs. The visit is followed by a tasting of their Perlita caviar. Cost: 28 € / person (12 max.) - Lasts 1 1/2 hours. The shop sells caviar.
Caviar L’esturgeonnière Route de Mios Balanos, 33470 Le Teich, 05 56 22 69 50
◆ Enjoying oysters
Run by the same owners as Chez Hortense, a popular restaurant in Cap Ferret, this oyster shack on the beach has a superb view of the bay and the dune. The owners have farmed oysters for four generations, they serve their own oysters, pâté, bulots and shrimp with mayonnaise, and rosé and white wines by the glass. A glass of white or rosé wine, fresh oysters on the half shell from the park, small plates with pâté (6 - 8 €), bulots or shrimp and mayonnaise (8 €), oysters N°3 range in price by season from 6 for 10 € to 12 for 18 €
La Cabane d'hortense - Les Youkas
Rue de Tamaris, 33970 Lège Cap Ferret, www.lacabanedhortense, 05 56 03 26 74
Open from April 1 from 11h30 to until late evening.
◆ ◆ Partying with friends
Every beach town needs a fun bar, and in this quiet corner of Pyla sur Mer, the Bal à Papa is a the place for dancing, drinking and listening to 80s hits and French oldies. Locals say it's like no other bar they know. 'It's super kitsch,' says Sophie. 'It's for all ages, everyone has fun, everyone dances. Even Parisiens who think they've seen everything, have never seen this.' Don't be confused - it's sometimes called Les Goëlands or Chez Zézette, and it's run by Christophe Faucampre and Sabrina Sutel.
Bal à Papa - Les Goëlands
242, boulevard de l'océan, 33115 Pyla sur Mer www.lebalapapa.fr
Boating on Arcachon Bay
'It's wonderful to visit the Banc d'arguin, the Ile aux Oiseaux, (bird island) and to sleep on a boat moored at the Banc d'arguin,' says Sophie. Picnics on the Banc d'arguin, touring the bay to see the Ile aux Oiseaux the 'cabanes tchanquées and the oyster farms in Cap Ferret. There are many boat rental agencies. The tides and shoals make navigation tricky, so consider a skipper. Sophie recommends Arcachon Equipage.
6, rue de Joigny, 33120 Arcachon www.arcachonequipages.com, 09 62 58 86 96 et 06 80 25 72 38
◆ Paragliding Over the Dune of Pyla
The Dune of Pyla is Europe's largest dune. It sits magnificently at the mouth of the Arcachon Bay, between the Atlantic ocean and the vast expanse of the Landes pine forests. It's wonderful to climb the dune, accessing it from the steps on the forest side and descending the other side to the beach far below, enjoying this incredible landscape — but there's nothing like soaring off the dune for a calm, peaceful flight or a more exhilarating option with 'manoeuvres'. The Waggas School has offered paragliding for over a decade. Suitable for anyone age of 5 to 99 years. Discovery flight costs 50 € for 10 minutes. Sensation flight costs 60 € for 10 minutes or 100 € for 20 minutes; three ½ day courses costs 330 €.
Pyla Camping, Route de Biscarrose, 33115 Pyla Sur Mer www.waggaschool.com, 06 32 04 32 07