Arcachon Ville d'Hiver, Gironde visitors guide
Visit Arcachon Ville d'Hiver, France
Set above the beach and Arcachon's Ville d'Eté or summer town is the Ville d'Hiver, the winter town. This part of town is packed with magnificent villas built at the end of the 19th century both to extend the summer season and as an alternative to cures in the mountains for tuberculosis.
See our Arcachon guide for the other quarters of this beautiful town.
Explore Arcachon's Ville d'Hiver
To get to the Ville d'Hiver take the Rue du Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny which runs from the beach slightly east of the Jetée Thiers to the bottom of the Parc Mauresque.
Here you can either take the lift up to the park or take the path and steps up the steep slope to the park at the top. Even this short excursion is worth doing for the wonderful views from the charming park.
The Parc Mauresque is in the heart of the winter town and is surrounded by streets packed with beautiful and often slightly eccentric villas built during the latter half of the 19th century in the 'Belle Epoque' period.
Some of the villas in the area are particularly noteworthy but I never tire of walking around the quarter and admiring all the charming villas that make up the area.
The tourist office can provide you with a map marking the positions of the most interesting and best-preserved of the villas.
From the park walk a short way down Allee Rebsomen at number 4 is the Villa Teresa. This villa was built in 1882 in a Spanish-Moorish style.
On the other side of the park on the Allée du Moulin Rouge is the stunning Villa Toledo. As its name suggests it is built in a Spanish style and has beautiful latticed wooden balconies - a style common in Arcachon but particularly impressive on the Villa Toleda. The villa also has a trompe l'oeil. The Villa Toledo was originally a centre for gymnastics and horse-riding.
Near to here is the Passerelle Saint-Paul, linking two hills and leading to the Sainte-Cecile observatory, built with a helping hand from Gustave Eiffel. Climb to the top if you dare! The metal spiral staircase does 'wobble' a bit as you go making those like myself with a fear of heights a little nervous, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. It is 25 meters high and built on a hill and so the views over the bay and the town are fabulous.
Villa Alexandre Dumas on rue Alexandre Dumas is an imposing villa with patterened glazed bricks, stylish windows and many ornamental features. It was built in 1895 and has recently been restored, by its owners, to its original state.
Allee Bremontier is home to the unusual Villa Bremontier. This is an interpretation of a Swiss chalet apparently and has a tower which is home to the staircase. Many of the villas in the Ville d'Hiver were originally built as rental properties and this is one of them.
Nearby on allée Faust is the rather gothic Villa Faust built in 1859 and also the Villa Graigcrostan built in 1880 in a mix of styles including colonial and Italian.
Round the corner is Place Bremontier named for M. Bremontier who started the planting of the dunes. The hunt used to begin in this square. On the square is the Villa Trocadero which is one of the prettiest villas with its beige, white and blue colouring. It was built in 1863 in a Swiss Chalet style but enlarged and its lovely balconies and verandas added around the start of the 20th century.
The Villa Carmen on allee du Docteur Lalesque has pretty stone and brick-patterened walls and large, decorated wooden balconies. This villa has housed some famous people including the Queen Mother of Spain.
The Villa Vincenette is a particularly ornamental villas. It has a belvedere, carved balconies, patterened brickwork and some lovely Art Nouveau windows.
Another lovely part of the Ville d'Hiver is the Place Fleming, also known as the Place des Palmiers. Be sure to walk by here on an evening when its lovely bandstand and surrounding trees are beautifully illuminated.
Map of Arcachon Ville d'Hiver 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 (8 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 (51 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'Hiver (Francais)