Pre-Race Report: Bordeaux & Lège-Cap-Ferret
Finally back in New York and able to write about the Lège-Cap-Ferret Half Marathon — hard to believe it was two full weeks ago! In short, the LCF race was a perfect destination race: remote but accessible, small and personal, low stress, and full of fun moments and exciting incidents.
I learned a lot about traveling to races (and traveling within France) and couldn’t have picked a better race to help me explore this corner of the world. In fact, I've got so much to say that I wanted to split this Race Report into two posts — keep reading to hear about the day leading up to the race, or jump right to the day-of action!
I flew into Bordeaux after my work trip wrapped up, and met up with my boyfriend there so we could drive to LCF together. We spent one day sightseeing and eating our way across Bordeaux, knowing we didn’t plan to race LCF all-out and didn’t need to keep too close an eye on our nutrition. I would have been a bit stressed if we’d had strict meal plan that day, and I’m glad we took a low key approach and got to enjoy the local scene!
A word to the wise: Bordeaux is one of the uber-European cities where bars and restaurants keep inconsistent hours, and we did have a few “hangry” moments when we simply couldn’t find anywhere with an open kitchen in the afternoon — a confusing experience made more stressful but our embarrassingly minimal French language skills. That inconsistency and activities like climbing 231 steps of an old gothic belltower to look out over the city might not be ideal pre-race activities, but I'm so glad we fit that in!
After our day in Bordeaux we picked up a rental car and drove an hour west to Lège-Cap-Ferret. The drive was short and pleasant, though jam-packed with roundabouts! My American stomach was a bit queasy by the end, but overall the drive directly to our AirBNB was a breeze.
Once we arrived, the race started to feel real. Not just because we’d finally reached our seaside destination, but because we were staying just across the street from the park where race volunteers were putting up the start/finish line! I still can’t believe our luck. And the AirBNB itself was too cute for words — a self-sufficient “tiny house” in the backyard of a local oyster farmer/restaurant owner. If you’re ever in LCF (for a race, perhaps?) I can’t recommend Valérie’s place more.
We settled in, and checked out the nearby beach before heading out for some dinner. As a vegetarian, I knew Lège-Cap-Ferret’s famed oysters and seafood would make up the bulk of most menus, but I was still surprised how specialized so many restaurants were! We decided to swing by a local grocery and grab some pasta supplies so I could eat a proper meal the night before the race, then drove to Valérie’s oyster bar, The Conch.
What a gem! I can personally vouch for the fresh bread and crisp wine, and the boyfriend devoured a plate of oysters while we looked out at the impressive Arcachon Bay. We could see the giant Dune du Pilat and enjoyed the company of Valérie’s dog, TouTou, who hung out in the sand at my feet for a while. Was so easy to relax, I nearly forgot about the race sneaking up on us!
After the oysters and wine were long gone, and the sun was setting, we headed back to the AirBNB. The peninsula's main road was mostly a quiet, picturesque one, but we did have one surprise wildlife sighting —a wild boar, calmly waiting to cross the road! If my boyfriend hadn't also seen it (and its bristles, and tusks!) I bet I would have convinced myself it was just a stray dog.
Staying in an AirBNB instead of a hotel has a lot of perks. Lower costs, a sense of personality and adventure, and support for local economies (if the owner is not just running a network of AirBNBs and taking apartments away from full-time residents) are a draw for me! I prefer to rent a complete space and not just a shared room, so even if it's a tiny house, I have amenities like a kitchen and outside space available.
In this case, having a kitchen gave me a lot of flexibility in a town where there wasn't much to eat: we easily whipped up a quick pasta dinner with delicious French cheese (of course), warmed up some peas, and wrapped up the day relaxing and planning our race morning. With no commute to speak of, all we had to decide was our outfits and time to wake up! And with that, we were off to bed.
Next up: Race-Day Report!