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February 13, 2019

France: Cancale, Oysters and Tides

Filed under: Europe, Food, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , , , — anotherheader @ 7:36 pm

Oysters being harvested in Cancale France.

Cancale is famous for its oysters. Indeed it’s a good bet that most of the many visitors to this commune of 5,300 people in northeastern Brittany have come primarily to consume shellfish. There may well be other good reasons to visit Cancale but they are easily lost to the attraction of the seafood.

Just off the lower town’s main street oysters are pulled from the sea and sold in stalls for immediate consumption. In Cancale, the shellfish is incredibly fresh and very cheap. It’s a hard combination to beat. The seafood was more than enough to encourage us to stop in Cancale.

A plate of oysters on the half shell

There is another thing about Brittany that fascinates us: The tidal range is enormous. During our stay in Cancale the height of the sea varied by 30 feet over around six hours. Within hours the ocean’s water varied from either being at the edge of sight or lapping up against the quay. At its max the water’s edge can move inland at a rate of 6 kph. You definitely do not want to be caught with a foot stuck in the mud at the edge of the incoming tide.

Cancale’s oyster harvest coincides with low tide. When the tide is out the tractors head out into the oyster beds just off the town’s pier and pull in the day’s harvest. In a short time later the oysters are in the towns stalls and restaurants. It’s farm to table food at its best.


We visited Cancale in August of 2018 and spent one night.

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