Recently back from stunning Cap Ferret on the Arcachon Peninsula in S.W. France, where I was finally able—between sun, sand, various bottles of white and red Bordeaux, and inimitable French style—to shake off my Milanese back ache. This is a world that takes over your own, redefines your priorities, fills you up, empties you out and sends you on your way new and improved.
NOTE: Yes, there were still sibling squabbles and the interminable Italian homework to grapple with (that’s a story for another day), but something magical was at work despite the domestic cacophony which defines us and travels with us wherever we go. I’ve noticed that the best solution to children’s fighting is to get them out the door. And here, “out the door” meant “into the water,” and salt water seems to put an end to even the most violent of disagreements. They vanish without a trace never to be seen again, like footsteps in the sand at high tide.
The presqu’île (“almost an island”) is French shabby-chic with a bustling, though small-scale, oyster and fishing trade right in its midst. And this reality—and it is the reality of the few thousand people who inhabit this strip of land year round—is what makes this place so beautiful. The small towns dotting the Bay of Arcachon cater to your needs just enough, but don’t ever abandon their own reason for existing. And that reason is dependent on a fragile ecosystem whose very shifting moods and seasons, ebbs and flows, insure that Nature is more important than you are. And therein lies the reason to relax. It’s all so much bigger than you.
Existing on a tiny width of land between the mighty Atlantic ocean and the calmer Bay of Arcachon, the peninsula puts you within a bike ride’s distance from the idyllic Bay with its dramatic high and low tides to the east and the crashing waves and wild dunes of the Ocean to the west. In between: vast expanses of pine, sand, and a yellow flowering scrub that make this place one of those rare spots on Earth that seem to be clinging to Land’s End.
This is just an overview. In the next few posts, I hope to show you more.