After a week of camping in Moliets at the Vegan Surf Camp (check out my previous blog here), we decided to treat ourselves to a few extra days in France, staying in hotels with real beds (luxury!). The first stop on our little south of France roadtrip was Arcachon – an adorable little seaside town that is popular with the residents of Bordeaux.
We stayed at an adorable boutique hotel called Hotel Villa-Lamartine, right in the center of Arcachon. I booked us into one of the nicer rooms, which means we were on the top floor with fantastic views of the city and glimpses of the ocean. The room itself was cosy, clean and comfortable, and the balcony was huge – I spent a lot of time out there enjoying the views while reading a good book. The staff were also very friendly and extremely helpful, and in all, I couldn’t really fault this hotel.
Arcachon was probably the least veggie/vegan friendly place I have ever visited, ever. Even salads come with red meat and cheese, and they think a salmon burger counts as a “vegetarian option”!!! That said, we did eat a couple good pizzas while we were there…
The first night we had actually booked a table at the vegan restaurant Ona, but once we were at the hotel we realised it was a good hour’s drive from where we were. After driving all morning, we couldn’t face another 2 hour round trip just for dinner, so headed into Arcachon itself to find a restaurant. Little did we know just what a challenge it would be to find somewhere suitable. We passed SO MANY restaurants that didn’t have a single vegetarian or vegan item on the menu until we found a little sea-side restaurant called the Grand Cafe Victoria that had a veggie pizza, which we ordered without cheese.
The next day, after visiting the Dune du Pilat (more on that below), we found another restaurant in Le Moulleau that served veggie pizza as well as a veggie salad – so again we split the two (sans fromage) and it was incredible. The pizza base was so thin, and the toppings just bursting with flavour. The salad was just perfect too. Oh, and frites. You can never go wrong with chips.
The second night we looked up veggie friendly places on Tripadvisor and found a dim sum restaurant on the outskirts of town. So we walked along the boardwalk for about 30 minutes to get there, only to find that they didn’t have a SINGLE veggie option on the menu. So we headed back into town to a curry restaurant we had seen earlier which had some vegetarian options.
This restaurant was cute, but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone. For a start, it took 45 MINUTES for our drinks to come out, and another 45 minutes for the food! I know the Europeans take more time over dinner than we do, but this was absurd. The food that came out was light and flavoursome, but even though I asked for everything without dairy, I can’t be certain it was vegan. Mostly because I didn’t feel well afterwards. Total bummer.
So the moral of the story? If you go to Arcachon, stick to pizza (sans fromage), salad and frites. And if you get bored of those, you can always head to a market and make your own picnic.
Dune du Pilat
The Dune du Pilat is the largest dune in Europe, and it is truly a sight to behold. It was incredibly busy when we went (we made the mistake of going on a Sunday), but even with the crowds it’s awe-inspiring. If we had had more time, I would have loved to have planned a full day with a picnic with the view to watch the sunset over the water. It is tough getting up there though – so make sure you are prepared for some exertion!
Arcachon, and the surrounding towns, are just beautiful. The architecture is so interesting, and there’s a real mix of beautiful, modern homes as well as stately manors that have seen better days. It’s definitely a city for wandering around, and great for shopping if that’s your thing.
In all, we had a really lovely couple of days in Arcachon. The only downside was the food, but we made do. And for 48 hours, I think we can manage just fine with chips and pizza 😉
Check out my video of Arcachon below, and keep an eye out for the third part of our France adventures which I will be blogging about next week!