Arcachon Ville d'Eté, Gironde visitors guide
Visit Arcachon Ville d'Eté, France
The beach front and central shopping area of Arcachon is known as the Ville d'Ete and over the last 20-30 years has been completely transformed into a stunning and vibrant sea-side town full of character. It is one of our favourite resorts in France.
Fun on the Beach
Arcachon sits in the Bassin d'Arcachon which is a large bay protected from the Atlantic waves and currents by the Cap-Ferret peninsula. This makes its beaches perfect for children and for playing and swimming in the sea. Surfers just need to drive down the coast a few kilometeres to benefit from the Atlantic beaches below the bay.
The main beach in the town is the Plage d'Arcachon between the Eyrac jetty and Croix des Marins (fishermans cross) jetty with the main part being in the centre by the Thiers jetty. The beaches are lovely sandy beaches which are thoroughly cleaned every morning. There are regular shower stations and regular areas surveilled by lifeguards.
A beach creche means you can leave your toddlers to enjoy supervised beach activities whilst you pop to the shops or go for a swim. Older children will enjoy the 'bungee jumping' or a game of beach volleyball.
Various boat trips can be taken from the jetties including a trip across the bay to Cap Ferret where you could go and enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the oyster restaurants overlooking the lagoon followed by an afternoon on the Atlantic beaches on the other side of the thin peninsula. A boat trip to see Arcachon's iconic fishing cabins on stilts - the 'cabanes tchanquées' is also not to be missed.
The beaches of the Ville de Printemps (spring town) are also very nice and you could either walk round to the west to explore Plage Pereire (where you can do free yoga or tai-chi on the beach on Saturday and Sunday mornings in summer), Plage des Abatilles, backed by pine woods or Plage du Moulleu which is good for windsurfing as you are leaving the shelter of the bay.
In the opposite direction walk along Plage d'Eyrac which has a useful boardwalk and on the the Petit Port - Arcachon's harbour. Arcachon's sea bus is a fun way to get between these. For just 1 euro you can travel between the Petit Port, the Jetée Thiers and the Jetée de Moulleau.
Explore Arcachon's stylish sea-front town
Along the edge of the beach is the Boulevard Veyrier Monagnères - a popular area for lunch in one of the many beach-front restaurants.
Behind this the Boulevard de la Plage has lots of shops. For restaurants the pretty Rue du Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny is popular as is the Avenue Gambetta and the Boulevard du General Leclerc.
The highlight of the town is the fabulous area around the indoor market. This square, the Place des Marquises has been recently renovated and is gorgeous. The indoor market is full of tasty treats and around the square are various bars and cafes where you can sit and savour the atmosphere.
There is also a multi-screen cinema here which has regular showings of films in English.
Behind the Place des Marquises is a lovely garden where you can sit down and enjoy a moment of calm in the middle of this vibrant town. Notice the huge photo of the Moorish Casino which used to be in the Parc Mauresque overlooking the town but sadly burnt down. The town hall next to the gardens is often home to art exhibitions.
Another highlight is the Chateau Deganne which was built in 1853 as an exact replica of the Chateau de Boursault in the Marne. It is now home to Arcachon's casino.
Arcachon has a dynamic theatre, the Theatre Olympia on the Avenue du Charles de Gaulle. Each year the Festival Cadences in late September is well worth checking out. This danse festival includes a number of productions in the theatre as well as some every day and evening on the beach. These beach events are superb - great dancing with a backdrop of the sea and the beach. They are only about 5 euros each but sell out very quickly so book early.
Dates for your diary
April/May (different day every year) - Carnival is a fun and colourful time to visit Arcachon. A parade passes through the town with lots of music and everyone in costume.
June - Horse lovers will enjoy the "Jumping des Sables" event when horse-jumping on the beach at low-tide, a parade in the town of a horse regiment and a religious blessing of horses - again on the beach- are all part of the activities.
Mid August - Arcachon's biggest festival and the most fun is the 'Fete de la Mêr' which takes place every year in August. The main event is a procession of boats on the water and there is also water-jousting, music, giant picnics on the beach, and lots more. The two-day festival ends with music and fireworks on the beach.
Late September - Le Festival des Cadences - an excellent dance festival - see above.
Christmas - Arcachon has a small Christmas village and an outdoor temporary ice-rink to animate the winter season.
Whilst in Arcachon be sure to also visit the magnificent villas in the Ville d'Hiver.
Across the bay near to Cap Ferret the lovely oyster villages of Le Canon and L'Herbe are delightful.
Map of Arcachon Ville d'Eté and places nearby
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Bassin d'Arcachon: site of natural beauty (3 km)
- Île aux Oiseaux (Gironde): site of natural beauty (5 km)
- Dune du Pilat: grand site of france (9 km)
- Domaine de Certes: site of natural beauty (13 km)
- Etang de Cazaux et Sanguinet: site of natural beauty (19 km)
- Biscarrosse: ville fleurie 4* (29 km)
- Etang de Biscarrosse et Parentis: site of natural beauty (34 km)
- Parc zoologique de Bordeaux Pessac: zoo or wildlife park (41 km)
- Bordeaux: secteur sauvegarde (50 km)
- Bordeaux basilique Saint-Seurin (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (50 km)
- Landes de Gascogne: regional natural parc (51 km)
- Bordeaux Port: heritage site (51 km)
The French version of this page is at Arcachon Ville d'Eté (Francais)