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The visit of the oyster beds

in Cancale
Le Groupe Dans Les ParcsLe Groupe Dans Les Parcs
©Le Groupe Dans Les Parcs

As a travel consultant, I am initiated to the mysteries of oyster farming in Cancale, in the heart of the largest tides in Europe!

In the heart of the oyster beds

An afternoon in the heart of the Cancalais foreshore

The appointment is set at the foot of the Oyster Market on the Port of Cancale.

We are waiting for our guide Inga, equipped with our boots, for this visit to the heart of the oyster beds.The group is already there: couples who love iodized gastronomy, families with children eager to wade in the mud and even a charming trio of travelers who arrived straight from Hong Kong.We are the only Cancalaise of the bunch!”The visit begins under a sunny sky with autumnal colors in this period of late October.

A preserved ecosystem

Inga pulls out a large nautical map of the bay. A few explanations on the geography of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel are necessary: the location of the oyster beds and the bouchots; some explanations on the tides; the richness and diversity of the marine fauna and flora…All this ecosystem plays a crucial role in the breeding of the oyster in the Bay of Cancale.We quietly go down to the beds. Inga first tells us the fabulous history of the oyster and we learn that the famous “Creuses Cancalaises” are in fact “Japanese”! Indeed, the oyster spat is bought in the Japanese country to be placed in the bay where they will grow for 3 years at the rhythm of the tides. As for the “Plate”, which makes the fame of Cancale, they come from Morbihan, from the Ria d’Etel more precisely.

If the “Creuses” are bred in bags placed on tables, the “Plate” is sown in concessions that never uncover, even at the height of the high tides. This explains the selling price: nearly 6 € a piece while the hollow oysters are sold for about 6 € a dozen! Sometimes, the oyster farmers bring back at the end of their dredge an oyster aged from 10 to 15 years: “Pied d’Cheval”, so called because of its particular shape. The opening of this unusual oyster is a feat: you have to arm yourself with a knife and courage to be able to taste it, but the game is worth the candle! Don’t worry, the hollow oysters are easier to taste. However, if you don’t want to take any risks, the Oyster Market, just next to the oyster beds, welcomes you every day, and opens some oysters directly to you, in front of the sea… As we walk along, we meet oyster farmers at work on their concessions. The oyster reveals all its secrets to us, from the detaching to the soaking basins.At the end of the visit, a stop is a must! It is inconceivable to leave without having tasted some “precious” fine and iodized. The pearls of Cancale keep all their promises!

In passing, a little focus on the work in the workshops where Inga, our guide, worked for a year.