Bordeaux and Arcachon/Cape Ferret Suggestions for March
I am traveling to Bordeaux for 4 nights in the last week of March with my boyfriend, we have organized our accommodation and a wine tour and now I'm looking for restaurant recommendations under 100 euros for 2 with wine. After reviewing the other Bordeaux on here, I so far have Le Petit Commerce and Bouchon Bordelais on my list, but I'm looking for a couple more. We are staying in the Chatrons area of Bordeaux, but we are happy to travel for our supper or a nice wine bar.
We also plan to drive out to either Arcachon or Cape Ferret one day for lunch and a poke around. Will the oyster shacks be open at this time and does anyone know if there are any oyster farms that we can visit and see the cultivation process? Any advice (or alternatives) anyone can provide here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Re Arcachon, you can arrange for a stint in one of the many oyster ports and out on the boat to the oyster beds with an oyster farmer. I did it a few years ago from Les Jacquets on Cap Ferret but I'm sure the other oyster ports all around the bassin do the same. You have to call the oyster farmer directly to arrange time and fee... the very clued-in Bassin d'Arcachon tourist office probably has a list or you can do a google search for "pescatourisme Arcachon". If you don't speak or understand French, it might however be a wasted opportunity unless you can find an oyster farmer with good English... the information almost reaches overload levels. And not at weekends when the oyster farmers are at the markets. For a more passive experience, there are also boat excursions even in off-season (but far less frequent than the June-Sep high season) from Arcachon/ Jetée Thiers to the Ile aux Oiseaux farms with an oyster tasting at one of the cabanes tchanquées (oyster farmer huts on stilts). Again, the Bassin d'Arcachon tourist office will help as well as googling "bateliers arcachon".
Re Bordeaux. I don't know the Chartrons neighbourhood that well (except for the Sunday market and antique browsing on the rue Notre Dame) and no resto in the area has stuck in my mind other than the vague memory of an enjoyable meal at Le Gravelier on the cours Verdun @ rue Cornac. For hanging out, I like the Saint-Pierre quartier where there is a cluster of favorite places: Le Bô Bar on the place Saint-Pierre for wine and a plate of cheese/ charcuterie; Le Petit Commerce (already on your list); and Miles on rue Cancera for excellent and well-priced "transgenre" grub and wine from a gang of guys who passed through Chateaubriand, Astrance, Robuchon in Paris on the their way to Bordeaux. I have also become a fan of Vin Rue Neuve on (surprise) the rue Neuve just a few minutes south of the place du Palais.
In Bordeaux ville, you can't go wrong with Le Bouchon Bordelais and Le Petit Commerce. However, there are literally hundreds of restaurants, big and small, in the city, which is the French city with the highest ratio of restaurants per capita. I love browsing through the small streets and trying a new place each time I go there, relying on my nose and glancing at what I can see on the plates. It is truly a city of bons vivants.
You should take a stroll around the central Marché des Capucins and sample one or two of the bistrots in the area, perhaps a few oysters and Graves blanc at Chez Jean-Mi.
Chez Fernand (on the quai) may not have the greatest food in Bordeaux but it is also a landmark and has atmosphere, too; but there is one dish on the menu which is truly fantastic if you like organ meat - tête de veau poêlée.
La Brasserie Bordelaise is a fine, busy brasserie with good entrecôte and wine by the glass, plus atmosphere.
Au Bonheur du Palais is a Chinese restaurant unlike most others in France, run by a Sichuan-born chef whose speciality is pairing his delicate cooking with Bordeaux wines, especially dry whites and Sauternes.
If you venture into the Sauternais, try L'Auberge des Vignes in Sauternes.
Finally, if you decide to drive up to the Médoc, restaurant Au Lion d'Or in Arcins is a must-do, one of the few places where one should go at least once in a lifetime. Hurry up, the chef is not a Spring chicken.
I have just about rounded out my eating itinerary now, so many thanks to you both. I have put Miles and le Bo Bar on my list of places to scope out once in Bordeaux.
Ptipois you are the second person to describe Au Lion d'Or as a must do restaurant/experience to me, although I dont think we will make it there unfortunately, we are heading to the Medoc region for a wine tour and I believe we are going to Le Gare Gourmande for lunch, which also looks good.
Thanks for the heads up on the Arcachan tours, as whilst my boyfriends french is reasonable, mine is not. Now I'm off to google translate Arcachan tourism sites.
I never heard of La Gare Gourmande and I think it would be folly to go anywhere but Le Lion d'Or is one is to have only one lunch in the Médoc.
(If the restaurant is part of the wine tour, please pay no attention to what I just wrote.)
There are few restaurants in the Médoc and fewer worth noticing, the right one is hard to miss.