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Things to Do in Arcachon

Situated in Arcachon Bay in southwest France, Arcachon is one of the most popular resort towns on the French Atlantic Coast. It’s known for its white sandy beaches, fresh-seafood restaurants, and laid-back coastal lifestyle, as well as its proximity to Dune du Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune, and Gascogne Landes Regional Nature Park.

The Basics
Arcachon is known as having some of the best oysters in Europe, so visiting an oyster farm and sampling fresh oysters is a must. Arcachon Bay is the perfect place to relax and take a stroll along the sea. Nature lovers won’t want to miss the Le Teich Bird Reserve, home to a large number of migratory birds.

Arcachon is easily visited on a day trip from Bordeaux. Many guided tours from Bordeaux include an oyster tasting and a hike to the top of Pyla Dune (Dune du Pilat), where you can enjoy sweeping views of Arcachon Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Arcachon is a popular day trip from Bordeaux.
  • Rent a bike or book a boat tour to explore the coast. 
  • Don’t miss the view of the bay from the top of Europe’s largest sand dune. 
  • Arcachon’s mild climate provides plenty of sunshine, so don’t forget the sunscreen.

How to Get There
Arcachon is a seaside resort town located 34 miles (55 kilometers) west of Bordeaux in southwest France. The town is just under an hour’s drive via the A63 and A660 from Bordeaux. You can also reach Arcachon by train from Paris, Bordeaux, and other major cities in France. 

When to Get There
If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in May and September, just outside the busy tourist season. Temperatures may be cooler, but you’ll enjoy cheaper lodging and undisturbed views of the sea. Although the Arcachon beaches are far less crowded than those on the Riviera, still expect some crowds in July and August. Arrive early in the day to secure a good spot on the beach. 

The Villas of Winter Town
The town of Arcachon is divided into four different areas, each named after a season and with its own unique character. Summer town contains the beachfront and the main tourist areas, autumn town is dominated by the port, spring town is the largely residential area, and winter town is Arcachon’s historical district, featuring an extravagant array of 19th-century villas. These were built by the wealthy of Bordeaux as places to recover from illness, as the fresh sea air was considered a cure for tuberculosis. 
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