Coastal Treasures of the Gouf

Originally posted on & updated on 25th June, 2024

Welcome back to our guest blog series! In this article, we’re excited to follow Beth, Jack, and their furry friends as they embark on an early pre-summer adventure exploring Gouf de Capbreton on the Atlantic coast. The group is eager to explore immersed canyons, unwind by the coast with the dogs, indulge in delicious local seafood dishes, and look out for new companions, swimming ones… Join us as we follow their journey and discover the hidden gems of this beautiful coastal area of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

“Jack, my husband, and I have just returned from a blissful week at Capbreton, our much-loved getaway on the Coast. Sandwiched between Hossegor, a surfers paradise, and chic Biarritz, the locals describe Capbreton as ‘sauvage’ (wild) – an apt description.

Nudging the Basque country and Northern Spain, Capbreton has a carefree feel. This is partly because the surfing community flocks here and displays their admirable chilled-out mentality despite being battered by enormous waves. There’s a particular reason for the wave sizes in this area.

Just a few hundred metres off the coast lies the Gouf de Capbreton, one of the world’s deepest underwater valleys. To give you an idea of its dimensions, the Gulf is similar in size to the Colorado Grand Canyon. It meanders for around 300 km from the abyssal plain of the Bay of Biscay to Santander in Spain. Reaching an incredible depth of 4,500 metres, it causes spectacular wave formations. The most famous in the area is a monster called La Nord, which rolls onto Hossegor’s la Plage Centrale. Unsurprisingly, it’s a hit with expert surfers.

Death-defying feats on surfboards might be a big thing here, but it’s a bit extreme for Jack and me. We’re strictly interested observers. Instead, we indulge in Capbreton’s other treasures: treks with the dogs on endless sandy beaches, mooching around the old port and world-class dining. It’s in restaurants and on walks where we take advantage of the bounties produced by this extraordinary stretch of sea.

The plankton-rich Gulf ecosystem attracts an abundance of sea life you wouldn’t normally associate with France. Among the rarer species are bottlenose dolphins, orcas, sperm whales and giant jellyfish. Sighting these animals is always a thrill. Humpback whales were seen in the Capbreton waters during April, and just last week, another was breaching the surf close to Hossegor. Sadly, we missed that majestic sight, though we had a different treat.

Nina, our favourite café, borders the beach. As with many others, it’s a dog-friendly eatery, which is ideal for us. It’s common to see pooches snuggled in handbags, napping in prams (strange but true) or snoozing contentedly under the table like ours. It’s at Nina where we spoil ourselves with a special starter. The famed Gillardeau oysters.

Founded in 1898 by Henri Gillardeau in the Marennes-Oléron basin, the oysters are recognised for their exceptional quality. They’re so coveted that the company laser engraves every single one to fight against counterfeiting. Frankly, you know when you’ve eaten a real Gillardeau oyster. These succulent molluscs are the prelude to a fantastic selection of seafood.

Love moules et frites? Like many similar restaurants in the area, they’re hugely popular. Also sardines, lobster, squid, whitebait, the catch of the day, the list goes on. Nina also offers a selection of meat dishes which suit carnivores like Jack. His favourite lunchtime ‘snack’ is a classic burger. And it’s seriously special.

Dining at the water’s edge enjoying fine wine, we’ll watch the sun setting the sea alight in a blaze of oranges and reds as it gently dips below the horizon. And our treat? We spotted a pod of dolphins swimming close to the shore, playing tag with fishing boats on their way back to port. Bliss. These are the ingredients that make breaks here so special. If you fancy a relaxed holiday on the Atlantic coast, I highly recommend a visit.”

Thank you Beth, especially for the lobster! For more real-life stories in rural France, check out Beth’s books on Amazon. They’re free on Kindle and highly recommended for anyone who loves animals, nature, and the Occitanie region! Are you too aspiring to start a new life in France? Please register your search criteria or contact us with details about your project.

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