Arcachon, a popular seaside resort and bay in the Gironde department in southwest France, is fairly new, having only officially been declared the City of Arcachon by Napoleon III 150 years ago, back when it was still a minuscule fishing hamlet. Fishing still plays an important role in the town’s economy today, not only because of export but also tourism; indeed, Arcachon is said to have some of the best oysters in all of Europe, and tourists from all over the country flock to the bay in the name of gluttony and seafood.
The area is famous for its Arcachonnaise villas, which were built in the 19th century by bourgeois vacationers who believed the unique combination of salty Atlantic air and dense Landes forest air would cure their mysterious illnesses. And as is the case with many seaside resorts, Arcachon has a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of picturesque, tranquil stops, including the Thiers jetty, the Pereire beach, the bucolic Ile aux Oiseaux and the neo-Renaissance Deganne Castle, now home to a casino.
Arcachon is just 34 miles (55 km) west of Bordeaux, easily accessible in just under an hour’s drive via the E70 and the A660. It is also possible to travel to Arcachon by train from Paris (via the Atlantic TGV route), Bordeaux and other regional towns.