Western France

Western France

This is the next part of travel notes about our „tour de France” trip in 2007 (read also other parts of travel notes about France, including those related to Burgundy and Saint-Emilion wine tasting). This part of the trip started on the Atlantic coast of France.

Living on the Atlantic coast of France

sunset atlantic oceanIn the afternoon, we reached Cap Ferret what separates the Bay of Arcachon from the Atlantic Ocean. We had booked bungalow in Camping les Viviers to stay three nights there (this is a large and very busy high class 4-stars camping resort and should be booked in advance; deposit is required).

Camping itself was very good and safe, bungalow was clean and comfortable. Cap Ferret was chosen as destination for a number of reasons – to enjoy beautiful beaches of France, to visit touristic sites nearby and to taste oysters produced in Bay of Arcachon (whole oyster region goes from the estuary of the Gironde River south to the border of Spain and covers about 15000 hectares in total).

Oysters and Arcachon

One of good things about Atlantic coast of France is seafood. With regard to oysters – we enjoyed them and should say that taste of those was one of the best I have ever had (of course, appropriated drink should be selected as well; it was really good sparkling wine in this case).

As planned, we visited the Big Dune of Pilat (la Dune du Pyla) – the Europe’s biggest sand formation reaching 107 meters in high, more than 2.7 kilometres long and 0.5 kilometres wide (in 1855 it was only 35 meters high). Dune is situated at the entrance of the Bay of Arcachon, opposite the Cap Ferret (to reach it we came all the way around the bay). Dune of Pilat is the most visited spot of the coastal area; more than 1 million people are visiting it every year and it is worth of doing that – really beautiful scenery, the ocean and surrounding pine forests look exceptionally well if you are on the top of dune.

Caves of mushrooms and underground town

mushroomsVisiting Atlantic coast of France was the most remote point in a sense that we started our way back home via Paris and Reims. However, we still had a lot of sites to visit and things to see.

Next stop – the Tufa Quarry and the Underground Town in Bourre (Cave des Roches, 40 route des Roches, 41400 Bourre). The Cave des Roches is the only example in the world of the complete production of mushrooms at 50 meters underground; the farm covers 120 kilometres of galleries on seven levels!

Mushrooms are produced in a natural atmosphere at 13 degrees Celsius temperature and humidity rate of 95% all year around. There are different varieties of mushrooms produced however 40% of world’s pied bleu mushroom for example is produced exactly there and exported to the best starred restaurants of New York, Tokyo, London, Geneva.

Another object of interest in Cave des Roches is artificial Underground Town made by artist (no idea about his name though). Visit to both sites lasts about 1 hour; there are about six guided tours per day during the summer season and three during the winter. Prices vary from €7.50 for a child up to €12 for an adult.

After visiting caves, we made a few more stops to visit a few castles in Loire Valley. One of them was Royal Chateau of Chenonceau – castle built on the River Cher in 1513. There is a spectacular gallery above the river and very well maintained garden around the castle.