Showing posts with label bassin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bassin. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lazy Saturday. In Beer, Banish the Bland!

Lazy Saturday. In Beer, Banish the Bland!
Sat 14th June 2014

When in France, we tend to take it easy at the weekends, avoiding the crowds in the popular areas and the traffic on the major roads. Today followed that pattern. A late rise was followed by a leisurely visit to the local market where Stuffed Tomatoes were bought for lunch and Roast Rabbit for dinner.

On the way home, we called to a local speciality shop and bought a few presents and also a few bottles of local craft beer by Aquitaine brewery E2B. Enjoying one of those now, the red beer, as I type. The earlier one was compared to a Pale Ale. Both so far are excellent but different. The Red Beer, for instance, contains black grape juice and cane sugar, so you get different flavours. But that is par for the course and one of the attractions of craft beer. In English or in French, the message is the same. Banish the big and the bland!
With the aromas of the Roast Rabbit rising from the kitchen below, I don't want to go on too long with this post. Just a line or two to say we spent the afternoon on the beach and in the waters of the Bassin. Surprisingly windy but that gave a welcome cooling and the waters are warm.

The amount of boats in the marina here is staggering and even more staggering is the traffic on the Bassin. In daylight hours, between fishermen’s boats, excursion boats, ferries, yachts, even jet-skis, there is never a dull moment on the water.

Bye for now. That rabbit is proving irresistible!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sun, Sand and Steps

Sun, Sand and Steps
Arcachon. Thursday 12th June
From the top of the Cap Ferret Lighthouse, a view of the "neck" of the Arcachon Bassin Bassin d'Arcachon Tourisme On the far side, you see Arcachon itself; on the near side are boats just lifted off the mud by the incoming tide at Cap Ferret. On the right, in the middle band, you can just make out some oysters beds.

The mighty old sun is still hanging around these parts. The sand is always here. And the steps are the 258 it took me to get to the top of the 174 foot high Phare du Cap Ferret. Tough enough going up but the views from the lighthouse were fantastic, in over the Bassin itself, then towards Arcachon and the magnificent Dune du Pyla and finally out over the Atlantic. The Cap Ferret peninsula, a thin strip of sandy land, shelters the Bassin from the worst of the ocean weather.

We had the option (still have!) of going across by ferry from Arcachon but thought the car might be handy for the lighthouse (it was), so we made the trip around the Bassin, avoiding the major roads and taking it nice and handy. Those fantastic views, both from the beach below and from the tower above, made it all worthwhile.
Another view towards Arcachon (above). The white sands of the
Dune of Pyla stand out (below)

The tide was out when we first arrived. So we carried the gear out towards the edge, passing little and big pools left behind by the tide, with kids and adults paddling and walking in them. Then we went in for a dip but we were hardly in when our gear were threatened by the incoming tide. So we had to beat a hasty  retreat as did many more. 

Their boats may have been stranded but still some fishermen were working, bringing bags of oysters by tractor to their boats for distribution on the Bassin once the water was high enough.

Back  to base then and the first beer of the holiday,  Kronenbourg blonde. She’s cool and that’s what’s needed right now, the street gauges showing the temperatures at 30 degrees (the main reason why we didn't go to Bordeaux today).
Starter and Dessert

This evening’s food comes from the local traituer, Mickael Levacher (Charcuterie Rotisserie du Port). He operates on Boulevard de la Plage, opposite Le Patio (last night’s restaurant). For starters we have a lovely savoury tart, including tomato, onion and cheese and with the anchovy on top;Veal with olives provides the main plate, while dessert is a promising Apricot Tart. Looking forward to that!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day of Rest in Arcachon. Hot on the Beach.

A view over Arcachon and the Bassin from the belvedere.
Day of Rest in Arcachon

It has been a packed first week in Arcachon and very enjoyable indeed.

Today, Sunday, we took it easy as the temperature climbed towards the 30 mark. Visited a Garden Exhibition in the town park around midway and also enjoyed a fantastic view over the town and the Bassin from a nearby belvedere. A quick sandwich (4.5), smoked salmon and salad, sufficed for lunch, and then we headed back to the house. Dinner, blanquet de veau (from the traiteur), now in progress with a terrific bottle of Graves rouge (Crabitey 2010).

The General de Gaulle rose

Hot on the beach as excursion boats for the Bassin load up.

Walking with Birds. Eating Fish all the Way

Walking with Birds. Eating Fish all the Way
Proud mother watches her baby, walk, feed, swim and run.

A six kilometre walk in temperatures of about 30 degrees is not everybody’s idea of fun but we had the most enjoyable and informative walk this Saturday afternoon through the Reserve Ornithologique du Teich on the shores of the Bassin d’Arcachon.

Here you get close to the wild birds, via some twenty observation huts and four Observation Points. Not all birds performed! Why should they? You’d probably have to live here and buy an annual pass to get the best of it. But we did have two memorable highlights.

Indeed, our very first stop was in the stork nesting area and there were quite a few of them at home. For someone from a country without storks, this was an incredible experience. And we would have one more.

From a hide, about midway through the walk, we saw, what I think is,  a Black Winged Stilt lying on a small bank in the water. When she rose, she’ll revealed three little chicks and just one egg there. The mother and father kept an eye on the little ones as they swam and walked in the shallow water near the shore. Amazing.

The morning started with a visit to the market in Arcachon, much enlarged with many extra stalls out in the open air. Fish was the order of the day here. We ordered mussels and the man threw in a big bunch of parsley and we also bought a stuffed crap from the same stall.

That €2.50 worth of mussels, cooked with the parsley and accompanied by some “Farm” bread, provided us with a tasty lunch in the hot sun. After that, we headed off to the Bird Reserve.

On the way home, we realised (horror of horrors!) that we had no starter sorted out. No bother! Called into one of the seven oyster ports in Gujan-Mestras and walked up to one of the cabins. Sat down in the sun and had a look at the menu. Didn't go beyond #1: six oysters, bread, a glass of white or pink (as he said), lemon and shallot vinaigre. We had a #1 each, at nine euro apiece. Starter sorted! And no washing up.

Now for the crab and a bottle of white Graves. The whites from the Graves area are really good. We haven’t drawn a dud yet and have enjoyed the following: L’Emigre 2011 biologique (€6.70), Vimont 2012 (7.30), Haut Reys 2012 (6.40), and Castre 2011 (15.30). These are usually a blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle (minor contribution usually), though I think one of the four is 100% Semillon. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Town Market and a Walk on the Wild Side

Town Market and a Walk on the Wild Side
Day 3
Bunny Galore

Heavy rain this Wednesday morning threatened to ruin the day but it vanished and we were left with some good sun and a sometimes stiff breeze, temperatures mainly around the twenty mark.

Still we dressed up well as we walked up the town to the daily indoor food market, a reasonably large one with some stalls outside. Lots of oysters as you might expect but no mussels. We fell on our old favourite in France, the cabillaud or fresh cod, not to be confused with bacalau or salted cod. Plenty of veg and fruit bought and also a Pain de Campagne, a very flavoursome and crusty country loaf.

Had been told to watch out for the Bordeaux speciality, the Canelés, and there was no shortage. Bought a couple of these small vanilla cakes and tried them with coffee back in the house. Must say I wasn't overly fond of them!

In the afternoon, we headed for a small town Audenge at the other side of the bassin (pronounced bass-on). Here, we enjoyed a very long walk in the nature reserve of Domaine de Certes. Here, you can  see the large shallow reservoirs (each has a sluice gate to control the water), where they used to farm fish. As I walked, I was wondering if something similar could be done in Cork Harbour, particularly around Glounthaune. Could be quite a business.
Walking in Certes
In Certes there is a coastal footpath, giving great views of the bassin. As you walk, you will see many birds, including herons, egrets, and hovering birds of prey. Perhaps the best demonstration of aerial prowess was provided by a group of swallows, ducking and diving, weaving and wheeling.

Nowadays in the bassin there’s no shortage of fish farming, especially oysters of which 8,000 to 10,000 tones a year are produced here, but they also rear sea bass, grey mullet and sea bream.

There are very good main roads around here, but normally quite busy. We avoided them today, over-ruling the Sat-Nav, and taking a country road from town to town - they are mostly joined up in any case - as we drove around the fringes of the bassin.
Roundabout cows on today's drive.