Five Reasons to Choose Arcachon
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Arcachon - a brief introduction
Arcachon became popular when the railway arrived in the 1850s, bringing with it the bourgeois folk of Bordeaux, and the new fashion for sea-bathing. Much of the resort was built to the Anglophile tastes of Napoleon III, with cute winding lanes lined with ornate villas.
Arcachon was split into four sections, named after the seasons. The pine-shaded Ville d’Hiver (Winter Town) became highly fashionable in the 1860s, and has been regularly frequented by royalty, politicians, artists and celebrities from Napleon III to Debussy and Marilyn Monroe. Hundreds of indulgent new villas were built as second homes, in a range of quirky styles. Over 200 of these handsome villas still line the broad avenues, boasting sculpted gables, balconies and external staircases. At the heart of the Ville d’Hiver, the Parc Mauresque offers wonderful overall views of the Bassin d’Arcachon – the inlet separating Arcachon from the exclusive Cap Ferret peninsula.
Most tourist facilities are available in the Ville d’Été (Summer Town). Toulouse-Loutrec once lived here, and took great delight in shocking his neighbours with daily nude swims. This ‘summer resort’ stretches along the sea front between two jetties, with terrace cafés, a casino, and frequent water-sport events including sailing regattas and speedboat races.
The Ville d’Automne (Autumn Town) is a hive of nautical activity on yet more seafront, with a marina and busy fishing port – most fishing uses traditional methods.
The Ville de Printemps (Spring Town) also offers more beachfront, lined by a shady pedestrian walkway. This area offers a huge sports complex, avenues of wealthy mansions, its own spring and bottled water, and access to the surf beach.
Arcachon - Our Personal Favourites
French resorts tend to be very seasonal and this can often come as a surprise to visitors who are less familiar with France. Owners of seasonal business such as bars and restaurants can often get by simply by operating in two months of the year - July & August - and are happy to shut down the rest of the year.
Arcachon has a very seasonal 'summer town' district but overall it's a significant town and fishing port in its own right, so there's a reasonable buzz of activity all year round.
Find out more in our Arcachon tourist information guide. Topics covered include beaches, activities including golf and horseriding, kids' attractions, restaurants, cultural attractions and more...
Arcachon - directory
Arcachon Tourist Board
UK’s French Tourist Office
Aéro-Club du Bassin d’Arcachon,
Boat Excursions (Union de Bateliers Arcachonnais)
Vinotherapie Spa (website)
Golf Gujan Mestras
Sports in Arcachon
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