If you are visiting Bordeaux and looking to spend a day by the sea, consider the quaint historical town of Arcachon. This seaside resort town is known for its distinct architecture, delicious fresh oysters, pleasant climate and sandy beaches.
Founded as an independent municipality in the mid-1800s, Arcachon was one of the first beach resort towns in this part of France, attracting wealthy tourists to bathe in the sea which enjoys mild temperatures courtesy of the Atlantic gulf stream. The beach on Arcachon Bay is also home to Europe’s largest sand dune, the Dune of Pilat.
Need a pick-me-up after a day spent swimming and climbing the dunes? Settle into one of Arcachon’s many bakeries for a local delicacy, the canelé. This cake-like pastry is crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and flavored with rum and vanilla for a delightful dessert.
If you’d like to move on from the beach and explore the town, you can visit some of the distinct architecture known in the region as “Arcachonnaise,” which resembles Victorian styles and is featured in many historical homes in the area. Oddly, this architectural style was criticized as gauche for decades, but is now considered quaint and charming, and it is one of the highlights of a visit to Arcachon.
Looking for some history? While visiting you may explore a series of bunkers built into the dunes along the bay. Built by the Germans all along the European coast during World War II, these bunkers served as weapon depots, radar stations, and also as a means to protect the coastline from the forthcoming Allied invasion. The bunkers located in Arcachon are numerous, with many even converted into restrooms for tourists.