Are you going to Gironde and Southwestern France? Find out where to stay around the “Bassin d’Arcachon”!
Wrapped around a small inland sea opening onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Bassin d’Arcachon (Arcachon Bay) is a lagoon located in Gironde, in the Landes of Gascony. The Bay is a nature lover’s haven, an excellent fishing spot, an oyster paradise, and is a favorite haunt for pleasure boating aficionados. In Southwest France, about 50 kilometers west of Bordeaux, the Bassin d’Arcachon used to be the favorite resort of many French writers and artists, such as Jean Cocteau, Jean Anouilh, Jean-Paul Sartre, François Mauriac, and Pierre Benoit.
Where to stay around the Bassin d’Arcachon? The Bay is home to a multitude of villages and towns: Cap-Ferret, Arès, Andernos-les-Bains, Audenge, Gujan-Mestras, La Teste-de-Buch, and Arcachon. To help you decide where to stay in the Bassin d’Arcachon, we have selected the best places and towns to stay in Arcachon Bay.
The commune of Lège-Cap-Ferret stretches along the Cap Ferret peninsula, from the village of Lège in the north to the point of Cap Ferret in the south. Enjoy a holiday in nature, while indulging in absolute tranquility. Don’t miss a visit to the tip of the Cap Ferret. Go there by bike, access is easy. On your way, marvel at the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and relax on the vast swathe of golden-sand beaches to the east, including Grand Crohot beach, Horizon beach, Truc Vert beach, and Garonne beach. At Pointe aux Chevaux, superb, picturesque views await you, along with the magnificent panorama of the Île aux Oiseaux (Birds Island), home to the famous “tchanquées” huts (houses on stilts).
Are you traveling with your family? The town of Arès is a great family choice and a wonderful place to stay in Arcachon Bay, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery just waiting to be explored. Start at the oyster port and wander along the signposted paths in the National Salt Meadow Nature Reserve. This natural site is home to protected species, including European pond turtles and green lizards. At sundown, enjoy an evening walk along the Arès pier, famous for being Arcachon Bay’s oldest pier. It’s a good idea to stay one night in Arès and continue your journey south the next day.
South of the Bassin d’Arcachon, the municipality of Gujan-Mestras has 20,817 inhabitants, seven oyster-harvesting ports, and great nature trails. Accommodation-wise, there are few hotels in Gujan-Mestras. However, there are numerous homestay accommodation options. Remember to book in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the summer season, apartments are very sought-after. In Gujan-Mestras – the capital of Arcachon oyster-farming – you can observe the daily work of local oyster farmers and – of course – delight your taste buds with delicious oysters. Stroll from port to port and contemplate the colorful huts that dot the shore. Around the Bay, the wild forest landscapes are protected and offer great outdoor trails. Children will be in their element thanks to the many theme parks, including La Coccinelle, Kid Parc, Aqualand, Bassin Aventures, Max’ Golf, Laser Lander. If you wish to stay in the south of the Bay, away from the main tourist spots, Gujan-Mestras is a beautiful place to stay in Arcachon Bay.
Undoubtedly the second most famous commune of Arcachon Bay, especially because it is home to the famous Dune of Pilat. Extending over an area of 180 km², it is one of the largest municipalities in France, though its population is only 26,110 inhabitants. Don’t miss a visit to La Teste-de-Buch, an essential stopover boasting a rich historical, cultural, and gastronomic heritage. Oyster lovers, don’t miss a visit to La Teste-de-Buch, known to be an oyster-harvesting (and tasting) haven. Don’t miss a climb on the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune (110.9 meters in 2016). We have already been there during our travels and we guarantee that this trip is worth the detour: climb the dune from its steep slope (30-40°) overlooking the Landes de Gascogne pine forest and descend on its western side (softer slope) to contemplate the sea: walking across the dune feels like being in the middle of the Sahara desert!
With a population of 10,891 inhabitants, Arcachon is one of the largest seaside resorts on the Atlantic coast, welcoming visitors all year round. After a pleasant walk along Arcachon’s magnificent piers, sit back and enjoy a drink or a meal in one of the many bars and restaurants lining the coast. Wander along the colorful huts of the authentic neighborhood of Aiguillon, where many fishermen still dwell. The commune of Arcachon is an excellent place to stay in the Bassin d’Arcachon, especially if you’re fond of lively cultural evenings, including theatre shows, cinemas, café-concerts, beachside nightlife, etc.
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