The coastal battery of Arros: a visit between history and art

Soulac-sur-Mer
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The coastal battery o ...

Going up towards Le Verdon from Soulac, is an interesting and visually impressive historical site. The Arros battery is one of the vestiges of the Second World War as we certainly see many on the French coasts and the Atlantic coast. This site is high up, the imposing structures are now adorned with graffiti, but it is easy to approach and enter. From the top of the dune, the view is breathtaking on Soulac, the Verdon and beyond on the Royannaise coast. A beautiful beach adjoins the site and a large car park allows you to park close to the little tourist train (PGVS), open in summer.


Photos of the article © Guide Bordeaux Gironde


Arros Battery

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The fortress of North Medoc

The Arros battery is a link in the chain of the Atlantic Wall, a system of coastal fortifications built during World War II. The first draft of this fortified place dates from 1938, it is a work erected by the French Navy. The German army will take it back and extend it in 1943 to build the Fortress of North Medoc, made up of 350 bunkers arranged at 37 strategic points, to lock the beaches and the estuary of the Gironde.


Overview of the sprinkler battery
Overview of the Battery of Arros
battery of sprinklers
On the beach in front of the battery, we can see (on the right) a flat and spacious concrete structure. ESPECIALLY you should NOT go swimming there, but it is very impressive in a high wind. In the distance, the Cordouan lighthouse.

France is not the only country to keep the remains of these concrete, metal and wood structures dotting the coasts. The wall stretched from northern Norway to Spain. Now covered with sand, lying in the water, only uncovered depending on the tides and always exerting a fascination mixed with bitterness... The blockhouses and their cannons (we see a lot of them on the beaches along the Channel), bunkers to shelter staffs bunker for ammunition, tobruks wearing gun turrets and barriers to slow the advance of the troops allied and marine landings (crosses, stars or "hedgehogs" in metal and wood, pointed in all directions, sometimes surmounted by mines)… A whole arsenal of war which is part of our History. Why are these remains still present along the coasts? For several reasons :

  • It would be titanic to dislodge them, they are massive constructions, made of heavy and solid materials.
  • They are part of our history, some are transformed into museums or renovated to make them informative spaces. It is also an artistic medium for graffiti artists (but this is not unanimous)
  • They protect the dune cordon by fixing the sand, it is a kind of dike!

Arros Battery
The batteries are bunkers that housed cannons. In Normandy, they can still be seen in some batteries.
Arros Battery
The support remained, but the whole is decommissioned

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    Visit the battery of Arros

    Park in the car park, in the extension of Place des Arros. You can easily find the indication to reach the area, on the GPS. The battery is located at the top of the dune to the left of the cycle path and the rails of the little tourist train.


    The Pointe de Grave Verdon Soulac tourist train (PGVS) is a truly original activity that children love. It's a real train on rails, which makes a mess! Embark at Soulac, next to the Batterie des Arros, or at Verdon. The journey takes 20 minutes, 7 kilometers. If you are on holiday in Soulac, for example you can easily reach the Verdon by train, take the ferry and go to Royan for the day, all on foot! The reverse is less true, because the Arros station is 1.5km from the city center, it is doable but small children will have to walk a lot.


    Arros Battery
    There is graffiti on the bunkers, like it or not, some are very neat, others are erratic


    Some safety rules to enjoy your visit

    To avoid damaging the site and its fragile flora, follow the GR8 or stay on the paths, do not venture onto the dunes or the surrounding vegetation. Pay close attention to the surroundings of the bunkers, these are vestiges which are not secured, they are open to visitors and have asperities, points in height without a guardrail. Keep young children close to you and make sure they do not trip over the metal frames that sometimes protrude from the ground, obscured by the sand.


    Visiting the site on your own is fun, but with a guide it will give you invaluable added value! Get closer to the Tourist Office, which will tell you where to visit the Batterie des Arros. You can also contact the Association du Mémorial de la Forteresse du Nord Médoc or the “Histoire du Nord Médoc” association (in fr), which offer tours all year round, by appointment and at low cost.


    Arros Battery  Arros Battery
    The associations take great care of the site, the most difficult is to remove the sand. Between natural erosion and visitors, the site must be cleaned regularly. Leave no waste on site to respect their work.

    Arros Battery  Arros Battery
    A sumptuous panorama at the top of the site
    Arros Battery
    View from the top of the Batterie des Arros, Royan in the distance in Charente Maritime

    After or before your visit, you can enjoy the magnificent Arros beach, with a view of the Cordouan lighthouse. Take a walk , sunbathe , play on the beach and admire the ebb and flow of the ocean over the fortifications. Be careful, this is a dangerous swimming spot at rising tide, with baïnes. There are small " pools " that form when the tide goes down, suitable for splashing children. You can come surfing at low tide, when conditions allow.


    Walk on the beach

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    We wish you a pleasant discovery of this pleasant and little-known place on the tip of the Médoc!


    Did you like our article? Find others on our Blog "Do it your way" . Follow us on the Bordeaux Gironde Guide Facebook page and on Instagram @guidebordeauxgironde


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