Arcachon – the city of the four seasons

Arcachon (Fr. Arcachon) is a town in the southwest of France and a sub-prefecture of the Gironde department, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It was created in 1857 by a detachment of part of the municipality of La Teste-de-Buch.

It is a part of the area of the Pays de Buch, the Landes de Gascogne and the Landes woods.

Having become the main city of the Arcachon basin, but not the most populated (11,300 inhabitants in 2019), it is at the center of an urban area of 66,000 inhabitants (in 2019).

It is also one of the major French seaside resorts on the Atlantic coast, alongside Royan, Biarritz, Les Sables-d’Olonne and La Baule-Escoublac.

The resort was created in the nineteenth century, when the popularity of sea bathing grew rapidly. In a few decades, the dunes were subdivided. In 1857, the Emperor Napoleon III erected what was only a district of La Teste in town.

From 1862 to 1865, the “winter city” was built under the leadership of the Pereire brothers, where wealthy clients from all over Europe came to protect themselves from the harsh winter. A monumental ornament of various inspirations gradually gives its face to the city: Moorish casino, Chinese buffet (no longer exists) brings an exotic touch, in the middle of opulent buildings and villas that use a wide range of architectural styles.

Then Arcachon becomes “the city of the four seasons”: in addition to the City of Winter, a “City of Spring”, a “City of Summer” and a “City of Autumn” are added.

The Faust alley, located near the Moorish park, is an architecturally exceptional avenue. In other districts of Arcachon, one can admire for example the castle Deganne (now casino) as well as other constructions of the boulevard de la Plage or the boulevard Deganne.

Recently, the city center has undergone a renovation, characterized in particular by the creation of a new square called Place des Marquises and inaugurated on March 25, 2012. This new space, located between the town hall and the boulevard de la Plage, is a summary of the most remarkable styles of the city of Arcachon.

Three other important districts are: l’Aiguillon, Abatilles and Moulleau.

Tourism and main attractions

  • The Deganne Castle dating from 1853 houses the Beach Casino
  • The Arcachon Aquarium Museum, created in 1865 by the Scientific Society of Arcachon, which must be included by 2016 in the Aquitain oceanographic center
  • Arcachon has more than ten works by sculptor Claude Bouscau, including the Heracles of the Mauresque park and the Croix Péris en mer

  • The Villa Teresa or Hotel Semiramis in the Winter Town has been registered as a historical monument since March 18, 1980. This ruined hotel has been renovated by Arlette and Denis Baures
  • The Grand-Hôtel d’Arcachon: inaugurated in 1866 on the plans of Paul Régnauld and Eugène Ormières, at the intersection of the current Boulevard de la Plage and the rue du Maréchal-de-Lattre-de-Tassigny. It was a a luxury hotel with 150 rooms. It has high-end facilities (10-meter high hall, winter garden facing the sea, tennis court, large terrace) and, as and when modern equipment (electricity, lifts). Empress Elisabeth of Austria and the fallen queen of Madagascar Ranavalona III were among its clients. Destroyed by fire in 1906, it was rebuilt and inaugurated in 1910, without however regaining its past splendor.

  • The Notre-Dame d’Arcachon basilica built from 1851 to 1861
  • The Sailors’ Chapel is a Catholic chapel whose walls are covered with ex-votos, donations from sailors rescued from the waters
  • The Sainte-Cécile belvedere is a metal spire that overlooks the city and offers a view of the basin
  • Notre-Dame-des-Passes church is located in the Moulleau district
  • The synagogue, located at 89 Cours Desbiey, has been listed as a historic monument since December 3, 2004

Beaches

There are four beaches in the city.

Plage d’Arcachon Beach – the main beach along the seafront promenade of the town of Arcachon offering showers and services and activities like beach sports, boat trips, swimming, volleyball.

Plage d’Eyrac Beach – east of the main Plage d’Arcachon close to the marina & port.

Plage des Abatilles Beach – running south along the west coast from the Pereire area.

Plage du Moulleau Beach – close to where the basin of Arcachon meets the Atlantic ocean.

Transport and to how to get to?

The nearest international airport is the Bordeaux Merignac Airport. The city is daily served by the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine from Bordeaux and also by the TGV Atlantique from Paris on weekends. Public transportation is operated by buses.

Distances by car:

From Nantes (tolls): 4 h 23 min (413 km) via A83 and A10

From Bordeaux: 1 h 12 min (65.1 km) via A63 and A660

From Toulouse (tolls): 3 h 22 min (297 km) via A62

From Marseille (tolls): 6 h 51 min (697 km) via A62

From Nice (tolls): 8 h 41 min (862 km) via A62

From Perpignan (tolls): 4 h 53 min (501 km) via A61 and A62

From Biarritz (tolls): 2 h 19 min (197 km) via A63

From Andorra (tolls): 5 h 20 min (478 km) via A62

Shopping

The beach front and central shopping area of Arcachon is known as the Ville d’Ete.

Restaurants

There are three Michelin list restaurants in the city:

  • Le Patio, 10 boulevard de la Plage, 53 – 125 EUR • Modern Cuisine (one star)
  • Ko-sometsuke 2K, 156 boulevard de la Plage, 30 – 76 EUR • Asian
  • Chez Pierre, 1 boulevard Veyrier-Montagnères, 35 – 80 EUR • Seafood

Main information

Area: 7.5 sq. km

Population: 11 300

Languages: French

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

GPS coordinates: 44°39′N 1°10′W

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