Europhiles who love shellfish, particularly oysters and mussels, Cancale has to be the best place in Europe to get your fix! And that is exactly what I did last week!
Cancale is a small fishing village on the northern Brittany coast, often referred to as the ‘oyster capital’ of Brittany. Apparently, Louis XIV had his oysters taken to Versailles from Cancale. Today, oyster and mussel farming are still the predominant activity in this picturesque fishing village. Well, that, and the numerous restaurants that then serve these locally-grown shellfish to the many tourists that come to the village each year.
Cancale is perfect for growing mussels and oysters because it is an east-facing bay. The bay is protected from the strong winds that frequently lash the northern Brittany coast. So you do not end up eating a good portion of the Brittany coastline every time you have an oyster.
The seafront has many restaurants all offering fresh, local shellfish with specialities such as Fruits de Mer, at very reasonable prices. But, there is no need to go to a restaurant, unless of course you want to. There are also always a number of vendors, literally on the seaside, who sell fresh oysters for eating there and then, or to be taken away. The vendors will prepare a plate of twelve oysters and a lemon – some will even sell you a plastic cup of white wine – for just 4 Euros. This is a far cry from some of the European cities where you will pay upwards of 3 Euros per oyster! I was somewhat bemused when I was told to ‘eat the oysters, throw the shells into the sea, and return the used lemon and empty plate’.