It’s time for a virtual travel again. Take your seat, buckle up, today I am taking you to southwestern France and the beautiful Bay of Arcachon (Bassin d’Arcachon in French). The Bay of Arcachon is located south of Bordeaux and is a popular holiday destination at the French Atlantic coast. It is known for its fresh oysters, the huge Dune du Pyla (or Pilat), Europe’s tallest sand dune, its beautiful nature and architecture.
Arcachon is a rather young city, some 150 years old, and was and still is a popular resort for balneotherapy. The little coastal town has a fine sandy beach and picturesque villas, locally known as the ‘Arcachonnaises’, a Victorian style of architecture. The town is also known for its mild climate so chances are good you will enjoy sunshine when visiting. From Arcachon you have a lovely view to the opposite Cap Ferret, the famous holiday destination of affluent French tourists (I will blog about it another time).
In Arcachon you can enjoy the town by walking as it is rather small. I loved the fact that the town is structured in districts named after the seasons with the Ville d’Hiver (the Winter District) being the most beautiful one with amazing villas, serene streets, lush greens. It is located on a higher level overlooking the city center and the coastline. Do not miss it if you go to Arcachon! For the coastline you can simply rent a bike and enjoy the maritime landscape by cycling all the way down to the famous Dune du Pyla.
The sandy Dune du Pyla is an attraction in itself. With 110 meters altitude it is a massive sand mountain that can be easily climbed from one side (thanks to stairs) and on top of the dune you will enjoy the most magnificent views of the Bay of Arcachon, the Cap Ferret, the forest on one side and the open Atlantic ocean on the other. Take your time, sit and enjoy – most likely you will not be alone but the dune is so big that you will find your own secluded sandy spot. Oh and don’t forget we are in France, so yes, you can just have a little picnic up there too!
Another great way to explore the Bassin d’Arcachon is to take one of the numerous boats and make a grand boat tour. It will take you from Arcachon to the opposite Île aux Oiseaux (the Bird Island) with its famous fisher huts, all along the Cap Ferret peninsula to the Dune du Pyla and back to the town’s pier. Take sun lotion, sun glasses and your camera!
Now let’s speak about food and shelter: Hotels can be a tad pricey in Arcachon so try to have a look at airbnb – in fact I was staying in a spacious modern apartment with bay views. And for the food I will recommend one restaurant here (it’s where I had my birthday dinner): The renown La Co(o)rniche in Pyla-sur-Mer on the foot of the dune. You really need to reserve a table there and prepare to spend that extra budget that you saved on accommodation – but it will be well invested. From the moment you enter the restaurant you will enjoy every detail – the hotel and restaurant were designed by the French enfant terrible of design Philippe Starck and if you get a table outside you will have magnificent pool, ocean and dune views all in one while savoring French haute cuisine at its best.
Enough for now! If you have any detailed questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section. And don’t forget: traveling keeps the mind sane! Bon voyage!
Photography by Igor Josifovic