La Goélette à Pépé is a sunny little café in Arichat, serving up fantastic fair trade (and locally roasted) organic coffee, tea & delicious baked goods and lunch fare, made in-house.
Whether you're in the neighbourhood or have to make a detour to visit, it's well worth a stop. It even hosts a small gift shop, with items from lots of locally made craftspeople!
Good to Know
Location: Arichat, Cape Breton
Distance from Causeway: 55 kilometres ( about 45 minutes).
Family friendly? Yes.
Is there a patio? Yes, with views of the ocean in the distance.
Price range: $2 - 13
Gluten free/Vegetarian/Vegan options: Yes, quite a few, for a small café.
Reservations: Not necessary, but possible via website.
Live Music? No.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes.
Dog friendly: Yes, on the patio, and they even supply water 🙂
Shop on site: Yes
Open year-round? Yes
Getting to La Goélette à Pépé in Arichat
Arichat is located on beautiful Isle Madame, a small island off the south coast of Cape Breton island (don't worry - there's a bridge!).
After crossing the causeway onto Cape Breton, you'll keep right, travel through the town of Port Hawkesbury, and then take Highway 4 toward St Peter's. After about 15 minutes driving, look for Exit46 for Isle Madame.
Once you cross the bridge to Isle Madame, you can explore the island from either direction (the main road forms a loop around the island, with tons of smaller roads offering scenic diversions). Arichat is on the south side of Isle Madame, and La Goélette is located on the main road (the high road, as it's called located) in the village.
Visiting La Goélette à Pépé Cafe
Tip: There are a lot of great things to discuss about La Goélette (as it's often known locally), but first off, you might be wondering, what is a goélette? Goélette (pronounced gwa-lette) is French for a type of schooner or sail boat. Pépé is French for 'grandfather', so La Goélette à Pépé roughly translates to 'Grandfather's schooner'.
This nautical theme is evident as soon as you step into La Goélette, where the front counter is built to look like a schooner and a fishing net hangs overhead. Local marine artifacts decorate the walls - quite fitting for a town that was a bustling maritime port in the 1800s.
The other theme that is prominent here is pride for Acadian heritage and history.
La Goélette sells six blends of coffee, all of which are named with the heritage of Isle Madame in mind. Three of them are named after 'sobriquets", old family nicknames belonging to some of the large families in the area - which have existed for many generations and are still in use today!
Both their website and the sitting area of La Goélette feature explanations of each name and how it relates to local history, as well as historic photos of each family line.
If you're looking for a place that's uniquely local, this is definitely it!
La Goélette Menu
The menu at La Goélette is excellent. It's wonderful to see such great food and drink options in such a small community. I'm not sure that all of these options are available at all times, but many of them are usually available when I visit.
On many days of the week they have lunch specials, my favourite of which is the Black Bean Burger (HIGHLY recommend you try this, whether you think it sounds good or not. It is AMAZING.) Check the café Facebook page for up to date announcements of specials.
You can even place your order online ahead of time on their website.
Coffee, Tea, Espresso Based Drinks
La Goélette's coffee is excellent, and the café offers a variety of coffee based drinks - including espressos, lattes, americanos, flavoured lattes and ice coffee. They also sell and brew organic, loose leaf tea that is bagged on site, in both hot and cold varieties.
They have both hot and cold coffee and tea options, which allows for really nice options year-round.
They are also super on the ball when it comes to accommodating special diets and requests. For example, they offer a number of dairy substitutes.
The food at La Goélette is fantastic too! Tender scones bursting with fresh berries, a variety of delicious cookies (jam filled soft oat cookies, peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies), and huge, pillowy cinnamon rolls are baked fresh daily throughout the week, along with other specials that vary by day.
I find the prices of the baked goods EXCELLENT.
They also often have at least one type of cheesecake, some power balls and healthy breakfast cookies, keto fudge, and sometimes the most heavenly cream puffs and carrot cake cupcakes!
They have a grab and go section with gourmet wraps and sandwiches, including vegetarian Thai and Mediterranean inspired wraps, as well as homemade breakfast sandwiches.
A different lunch special for many days of the week rounds out their offerings, and the ones I've had were FABULOUS. Many of them are different soups and sandwiches and they are always mixing up the options to keep things fun.
My absolute favourite is the black bean burger on Wednesdays. It is spectacular, whether you're vegetarian or not! A homemade bun, a flavourful patty, a (not too spicy) chipotle sauce and fresh onion, tomato and lettuce make this one burger worth going out of your way for.
If this is something you want to try, I recommend calling ahead to reserve one - they often sell out! You can get the burger with a side of potato wedges, and while I'm not always excited for potato wedges, these ones are really good and I really love the dipping sauce that comes with them.
Some of the other sandwich specials, which vary by day, have included a vegetarian chickpea shawarma wrap, a basil BLT panini, Monte Cristo sandwich, corn chowder, clam chowder and more.
Seating and Ambiance
La Goélette offers an indoor seating area that's decorated with nautical inspired artifacts from the area's marine history, as well as displays that explore some of the culture and history of the area and its people.
It's a sunny, cozy space, with a large wall of windows at the front with a view of the ocean.
In the seating area there is also a lovely little gift shop, which contains art, crafts, souvenirs and gifts made by locals - including paintings, fabric art, wooden bowls, yarn and wool crafts, pottery, local honey, jewellery, and hand made mittens, among other things. (Including Two Crows Joy jewellery, which my sister and I own!).
Tip: For a local treat to take home, look for the 'tamarin' made by Audrey Boudreau in her business Produits Madouesse (Madouesse is one of the Sobriquets I mentioned above - family names carried down through generations!). Tamarin is a kind of Acadian pull taffy and makes a one-of-a-kind treat from this Acadian part of Cape Breton.
There's another cute little seating area outside, painted in bright, happy colours, where you can sit when the weather is pleasant and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze off the water.
Excellent coffee and food, Acadian culture & Handmade gifts
Whether you're visiting beautiful Isle Madame (which I highly recommend you do!) or travelling through a different part of Cape Breton Island, a visit to La Goélette à Pépé Café is something I highly recommend adding to your to-do list!
Things to do near La Goélette à Pépé Café in Arichat
If you're visiting Isle Madame, I recommend you check out:
Pondville Beach Provincial Park - a kilometre-long sandy beach on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
The Groundswell - a fun restaurant, pub and inn on the north side of the island, which also offers kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals.
LeNoir Forge Museum - for a dose of the history of this very old Acadian settlement, visit the LeNoir Forge and Isle Madame Historical Society. A few hundred years ago, Arichat was one of the busiest and most prosperous harbours around and there is a ton of history to unpack in this area!
The Clairestone Inn is a beautiful spot to stay, with lovely, updated rooms in the heart of Arichat (and it's right next door to La Goélette!)
Marache Point Lighthouse is a fantastic, easy hike from the end of Cape Auget road. It's the perfect place to enjoy a picnic next to the crashing ocean.
Isle Madame is a lovely place to bike or drive around and take in all the gorgeous coastal views!
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