To reach the summit of the Dune du Pilat, the highest dune in Europe, is to suddenly embrace 180° a breathtaking landscape, offering one of the most beautiful panoramas, made of the blue of the ocean, the blondness of its islands, the green of its pine forest... a magical and preserved place. You have an exceptional view of the Arcachon basin, the tip of Cap Ferret, the Banc d'Arguin, the Tchanquées cabins and the Ile aux Oiseaux, a territory so well sung by Pascal Obispo.
Located just 50 km from Bordeaux, in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne, the Bassin d'Arcachon is a vast bay where the fresh waters of the Leyre mingle with the turbulent waters of the ocean. The Basin enjoys a microclimate. From spring the mimosas distill their delicate perfume, the first rays of sun give a taste of summer on the water which takes on turquoise color reflections. Formerly called "the little sea of Buch", the Bassin d'Arcachon has inherited a real maritime culture. The waters of the Basin were an extraordinary fish reservoir for the many fishermen of the Pays de Buch.
Navigation was carried out on pinasses, flat-bottomed boats facilitating navigation in the channels. The Bassin d'Arcachon has also preserved its oyster farming tradition. You can soak up the beauty of this vast natural space by boat, by bike thanks to its 150 kilometers of cycle paths going around the basin, on foot, and even by hang-glider, paraglider and helicopter.
Arcachon was born with the rise of the first sea baths. On May 2, 1857, Arcachon was erected as a municipality by Napoleon III and the railway line between Bordeaux and La Teste was extended to the seaside resort. The Émile and Isaac Pereire brothers, wealthy bankers, shareholders of the southern railway company, bought land and built a sanatorium, villas and casino… the winter town was born.
The town, which is very extensive, is made up of several districts, with a particular charm that gives it its full identity.
The Ville d'Hiver (listed in the inventory of historical monuments since 1985) is home to elegant and sumptuous 19th century villas, in neo-Gothic and neo-classical styles, sometimes hidden in huge parks where the people of Bordeaux liked to come on holiday. 73 residences are thus listed today.
It is also there that a Moorish-style casino was built, destroyed by fire in 1977 and of which there remains a very beautiful 4-hectare park with an arboretum of many plant species, rare species and century-old trees. Nearby, a belvedere, called Sainte-Cécile observatory built in 1863 offers, provided you do not have vertigo because you have to climb a metal staircase, very narrow, spiral, held by metal cables and 15 meters high, a panorama of the basin.
A funicular transformed into a lift takes you from the park to the summer town, the modern town where small buildings have taken up residence on the seafront. of the brand new covered market, have become very lively, many shops have opened. The neo-Gothic Notre-Dame basilica dominates the city and houses an alabaster statue, the story of which tells that a priest who saved several boats from the storm would have received it from the waters as a gift.
The Ville d'Automne extends around the fishing and pleasure ports, while the Ville de Printemps is established near the source of Sainte-Anne des Abatilles, discovered by chance while looking for oil in 1923. Beautiful beaches ( Pereire beach, and Moulleau), welcome families.
An astonishing Greek Orthodox church erected on a promontory dominates the district which hosts the only thalassotherapy center in Gironde. The aquarium museum invites you to discover the species of the basin, but also tropical fish as for the zoo, it brings together over 14 hectares hundreds of big cats that can be discovered from a suspension bridge.
The Ferris wheel in Place Peynau, near the Eyrac pier. A view several meters high on the ocean awaits you, spectacle guaranteed!! The Big Wheel even works at night, until 11 p.m. The ticket is 5€. Read our article (fr).
The Pilat dune steals the show from the small homophone seaside resort home to the Daniel Meller and Corniche beaches, so impressive are its dimensions: 110 m high, 500 m wide, 2700 m long, 8,000 years old, just as the panorama it offers at its summit is extraordinary: forest of maritime pines and oaks; Banc d'Arguin, the largest sandbank on the coast; ocean; Bird Island whose surface varies with the tides and which is home to many species of birds; cabins on stilts rising like lookouts, they owe their name to the Gascon term designating the stilts used by the Landes shepherds; the tip of Cap Ferret.
In perpetual movement between the sand, the wind, the tides, the dune has the particularity of advancing every year, from 1 to 5 meters.
Parking is chargeable and prices vary depending on the time you spend at the dune: €4 for 4 hours and €6 for the day (price for the summer period). Payment is by credit card only. It is also possible to come to the dune by bike or by bus, this avoids parking costs. Bus timetables can be found on the internet or at the Arcachon tourist offices. Read our article (fr).
It is the largest municipality in the basin with 26,000 hectares including 10,000 hectares of maritime pines. La Teste de Buch hosts on its territory the most emblematic heritage of the basin that can be seen from the Dune du Pilat, with the salt meadows and the lake of Cazaux-Sanguinet, the second largest freshwater lake in France, connected by a canal in the Bassin d'Arcachon.
It is the ideal place to practice many outdoor sports in the heart of a magnificent forest.
The town, which has managed to preserve its authenticity, hosts no less than seven ports (La Hume, Meyran, Gujan, Larros, Le Canal, La Barbotière, La Mole) dedicated to oyster farming, which professionals will introduce you to. We learn and we taste, all in a friendly and festive atmosphere. Beaches, golf, cycle paths, animal and amusement park, bowling, casino, nightclub… the town has many assets to attract sportsmen and partygoers.
At the port of Larros, the oyster house is a museum created by oyster farmers to share their profession with you through history. Gujan-Mestras produces on its territory half of the oysters of the Arcachon basin. La Hume beach, near the small marina, is ideal for families, offering a magnificent view of the basin.
Paradise is on earth, as it is in the air for all ornithological species, at Teich. Located in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne regional natural park, on the Leyre delta and on one of the most important migratory routes in Europe, this 110-hectare nature reserve, with marshes and forest, is home to exceptional flora and fauna.
Many hiking trails, 12 km of cycle paths, allow you to explore it as closely as possible, as canoeing or kayaking. A 6 km signposted route, dotted with 20 hide huts crossing all the areas, has been specially created for observation.
The small port of Audenge is completely authentic, like its small colored wooden huts which border it. The small town has a pool of 50 m of sea water, which is renewed with each tide, an open-air swimming pool created by a crazy swimmer.
At the northern exit from Audenge to Lanton, the areas of Certes and Graveyron are sensitive natural areas, property of the Conservatoire du littoral to be discovered for their typical vegetation and birdlife.
Rural, aquatic and forest landscapes define this town located within the Landes de Gascogne regional natural park, crossed by numerous rivers, with four lakes: the green lake, the Lambert lake, the lake of Pont Neau and the holes of the Tuileries, two ports: the port of Biganos and the port of Les Tuiles and an island: the island of Malprat (located between two arms of the Leyre delta, not accessible to the public) which is home to a faunal ecosystem and floristics.
Biganos is known for its production of Aquitaine caviar at the Cassadotte mill and Caviar Perlita at Teich. The Saint-Gervais church, like the priory of Comprian dating from the 9th century, was a place of passage for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.
The small seaside resort, closer to nature, is rich in Gallo-Roman heritage, many vestiges of which are still visible today. Sweetness of life, oyster port, cabins, Quinconces beach lined with pines and tamarisks and its eponymous natural site, the longest jetty in France (with its 232 m), numerous activities, in particular the jazz festival, will charm visitors. And here, as in several municipalities in the basin, it is possible for the space of a morning to board a boat with a fisherman or an oyster farmer who will teach you about the sea and their trade.
Arès, in the Middle Ages, traded Médoc wines with the British Isles. In the 19th century, the town had five mills, of which only the tower of one of them remains today. What characterizes the small seaside resort today is its extraordinary natural heritage, the fauna and flora evolve on the quincunx site, which can be explored with a naturalist guide, in the middle of the forest, the marshes and salt meadows.
You can also crisscross along the coastal path, stop in the conch of Saint-Brice which is home to a pine forest and three bodies of fresh water, supervised from June to September.
Like Arcachon, it is the chic resort of Gironde, but which has managed to preserve its wild and authentic side, thanks to its unspoiled nature. It extends over 25 kilometers dotted with small villages and hamlets: Lège and its town, le Grand Crohot (Lège-Océan), Claouey, les Jacquets, Petit Piquey, Grand Piquey, Piraillan, Le Canon, l'Herbe, La Vigne and Cap Ferret.
Almost half of the peninsula is made up of a huge national forest of 7,500 hectares offering a variety of walks, on foot, on horseback or by bike on the many cycle paths. For swimming, you have the choice between the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean, or the calmer ones of the Arcachon basin.
The lighthouse located at the tip of Cap Ferret offers at a height of 50 m, after having climbed the 2580 steps, a unique view of the bird island, the Pilat dune and the basin. The tip of Ferret is a place of wild nature where the ocean enters the basin and where the waves, the winds, the tides, the currents shape the landscape.