Oyster beds in Cancale
©Oyster beds, Cancale|Jérôme Sevrette
CANCALE OYSTERSOysters with exceptional flavour

Cancale oysters

Cancale is the kingdom of the oyster. This small fishing port on the Emerald Coast is recognised as a ‘Site Remarquable du Goût’ for its flat and Pacific oysters and the quality of its environment. Oyster farmers cultivate the shellfish following the tides and the seasons in the magnificent Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.


Cancale oysters come in two varieties. Pacific oysters farmed on platforms in the Bay of Cancale and flat oysters farmed in deep water.


Pacific oysters (crassostrea gigas) are cultivated in beds covering 400 hectares of the Bay of Cancale, protected from the prevailing westerly winds. Sacks of oysters are placed on raised racks 80cm above the seabed and are regularly turned over at low tide during the 3 or 4 years of growth.

Between 3 500 and 4 000 tonnes of Pacific oysters are produced annually. Pacific oysters have a characteristic full-bodied, salty taste. The best viewing point for the oyster beds is from the Pointe du Hock in Cancale.


Cancale flat oysters (ostreae dulis) are highly sought-after by connoisseurs. They are characterised by a pronounced salty tang and a hazelnut after-taste. 1,500 tonnes are farmed in deep water annually. Spat (seed oysters) are sown on the sea bed from boats in areas which remain covered at low tide. The oysters are harvested using dredges which look like large rakes.

Cancale, owes its gourmet reputation to Pacific and flat oysters which feature on the menu of numerous restaurants in the oyster capital.


Oysters have amazing nutritional benefits as they are very rich in protein, yet low in calories, fat and cholesterol. They have been eaten since ancient times but in France it was during the 18th century that the shellfish began to tickle gourmet taste buds.

Oysters may be eaten cooked or raw. To appreciate the flavour to the full, don’t hesitate to eat them raw with a drizzle of lemon juice, accompanied by a slice of bread and butter (salted butter of course!) and a small glass of white wine (in moderation!).

Months with an ‘R’ in

It is often said that it is best to eat oysters during months with an ‘r’ in, i.e. from September to April. In fact they can be eaten all year round! Nevertheless, during the reproductive period from May to August, they have a creamy texture.

The Oyster Market in Cancale

This little market of 8 local oyster farmers is open every day on the harbourside at La Houle. It is an ‘absolute must’ for oyster lovers!