Le Canon and l'Herbe visitor guide

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Visit Le Canon and l'Herbe, France

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A particular highlight of a visit to Cap Ferret, on the Gironde coast west of Bordeaux, is a chance to visit the villages of l'Herbe and Le Canon, just two of several villages that developed around the culture of oysters along the shores of the Bassin d'Arcachon.

Here in the oyster villages of Cap Ferret you can discover the ideal combination of unspoiled villages, a unique and attractive architectural style, a picturesque environment and a great place for lunch!

These villages, in particular those at l'Herbe (our personal favourite) and Le Canon but also elsewhere along the coast, are a very attractive combination of the traditional small cottages used by the oyster growers, active oyster harvesting centres, and waterfront restaurants where you can enjoy the local oysters and wine.

Exploring Le Canon and l'Herbe

The traditional oyster fishing villages of Cap Ferret are perhaps unlike any you have seen before. Laid out in a grid pattern, the small detached cottages are so close together that you can almost reach from one to the next, and separated by narrow alleys that sometimes overflow with plants and flowers. Many of the cottages are painted in bright colours which adds to their charm.

L'Herbe village on Cap Ferret

Despite the picture postcard quality to l'Herbe and Le Canon you are left in no doubt that they are still active, working villages and around each corner you are as likely to come across machinery discarded by the fishermen as a row of flowers.

It is precisely this combination that we found so charming. As you explore France you will find that many 'beautiful villages' have been almost completely renovated to a very high standard, with the ancient cottages turned into second homes and upmarket restaurants.

Very lovely, but you have the impression you are a long way from seeing the villages as they were 100 or 500 years ago!


Rules and regulations

At Le Canon and l'Herbe, as with the other villages related to oyster culture, the cabins must follow strict rules. For example the properties can only have one storey which should be 6 metres by 4 metres, they must be two metres from the next property, and the building must be constructed from wood with a roof made from canal tiles

The current list of officially inscribed oyster villages includes: Le Four, Les Jacquets, Petit Piquey, Grand Piquey, Piraillan, Le Canon, l'Herbe, Douane and Le Phare.

After a stroll around the villages, the highlight for many visitors is the chance to spend a long lunch enjoying the very fresh local products in one of the restaurants along the waterfront, or at least sampling the oysters in one of the many 'degustation' centres.

On a sunny weekend you could almost wonder if Bordeaux, about an hour to the east, has been completely abandoned, with the entire population enjoying oysters here in the Bassin d'Arcachon!

Outside the traditional small village centres you will also find more modern facilities such as supermarkets and ice-cream shops so even if you are not tempted by oysters you should still visit.

Le Canon village on Cap Ferret

You will also find small beaches here along the coast of the Bassin d'Arcachon near Le Canon and l'Herbe. These beaches are certainly less impressive than the beaches just a couple of kilometres to the west of here on the Atlantic coast, but they are also protected from the waves which can make the Atlantic beaches very popular with surfers but a challenge for small children!

Attractions nearby

Once you have enjoyed the oysters there are various other attractions here - see the Cap Ferret guide. You can also take a ferry across from Cap Ferret to the lovely seaside resort at Arcachon or explore elsewhere around the Bassin d'Arcachon.

You can find more travel ideas in the Gironde guide and the Aquitaine guide.

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The French version of this page is at Le Canon and l'Herbe (Francais)