My Weekend At Le Bassin of Arcachon

As you may know, one of the top criteria of luxury travelers is privacy and tranquility. And while many premium vacation destinations provide all the means to insure these qualities, other offer it just effortlessly. And such is the beautiful area of Le Bassin d'Arcachon in France.

After my stay in the city of Bordeaux, it took me a one-hour drive to reach the beach resort of the capital of wine. Being a Mediterranean person myself, the region’s location on the southwest coast of France was a change of scenery. Since a visit to Arcachon and its surrounding area, brought me a step closer to the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

And so, I had to bring you the must-see parts and to-do-list of Le Bassin.

Stroll around Arcachon City & Beach
The city of Arcachon is the liveliest place around the Bassin. Its downtown hosts the yummy fresh morning food market, shopping stores and is the stage for seasonal cultural and entertainment events. Arcachon is accessible on foot from the train station, and is perfect for walking or cycling along its beautiful promenade, parallel to the sandy beaches of the Bassin up until the fishermen port. The Bassin is also known to be an ideal destination for all sorts of water sports like surfing, paddling, water skiing or boat cursing.

But the most picturesque part of the city is definitely the Ville d'Hiver quarter. Its architecture is like nothing I have seen before. The streets consist of colorful villas built with English, Spanish and Oriental architectural influences that create a bouquet of houses of stone, brick and wood, each with its unique character (and original name as well). I decided to take a tour in the mini-train and visited the entire Ville d'Hiver and the Parc Mauresque located up on the hill.

Hop on a bike in Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret is a savage intact beauty with a luxurious touch, probably because of the multi-million euro villas that are spread around its land. What I really appreciated is the fact that the estates remain subtle because they are constructed to resemble the regions’ emblematic fishing cabanas.

I took a 30-minute boat ride from Arcachon City to discover Cap Ferret, which indeed is the perfect place to walk around barefoot in a relaxed attire. I was told it was the look often opted by celebrities like Marion Cotillard, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood and other members of European royalty.

And when in Cap Ferret, you must taste the fresh oysters from a fisherman’s shop with a glass of white wine, simply delicious! But before the culinary blast, make sure to go on a bicycle ride on Cap Ferret’s cycling routes, which goes through forests of pine trees towards the golden sandy beaches of the Atlantic.

Climb up the Dune du Pilat
If Paris has the Eiffel tower then the Bassin d'Arcachon has its Dune du Pilat. Being the highest dune in Europe, the Pilat or Pyla, is classified as a natural site and a monument of the region, which attracts more than 2 million visitors per year.

The Dune of 110 meters, stretches along three kilometers and evokes many different sensations. At a first glance I felt like I was lost in the middle of an Arabian Sahara, yet when I looked around I realized that an evergreen forest surrounded me on one side, and the roaring Atlantic Ocean on the opposite side. So prepare yourself to either climb up the dune, or take the staircase, and voila an absolutely breathtaking view will await you!

Where to Stay, Dine & Wine
The ideal location to stay around Le Bassin d'Arcachon would be in the city of Arcachon. It is central between all of the villages, and reachable via the train or Bordeaux’s airport.

While the city center doesn’t have a 5 star hotel, it does offer numerous Apartment Hotels. One of them is Appart-Hotel Le Trianon, which is a replica of a holiday apartment. I particularly enjoyed the fully equipped kitchen, my spacious room that hosts up to 6 people, and the liberty I had of going to the local market and cooking my own meals. Its ideal location right next to the casino and the beach is an added value.

As for the dinning, the area offers many premium seafood restaurants including two one-star Michelin rated restaurants. And for those who enjoy a spa and thalassotherapy treatment like myself, then booking a massage or a facial is possible at the Thalazur Arcachon.

In conclusion, if you are seeking the unforced tranquility and serenity of nature, then Le Bassin d'Arcachon is your kind of place. Going to the Bassin area is like visiting the summerhouse you have always wished to own. It is a space to disconnect from your everyday life and reconnect with inartificial beauty. So put away your mobile phones and enjoy the fresh air!

Fun (and surprising) Facts
  • Salvador Dali and Coco Chanel lived in Arcachon City for nine years
  • The previous King and Queen of Spain first met at the Ville d'Hiver of Arcachon
  • Legend has it that Arcahcon’s aquarium inspired Prince Rainier III de Monaco to build the  Musée océanographique de Monaco
  • Many of the luxurious yachts that dock at the international Port Hercule de Monaco are built at the Bassin’s city of Gujan-Mestras by Guy Couach. For instance, the super yacht Pellegrina was first tested in the Bassin

P.S. To book your trip, make sure to go through the Bassin d'Arcachon region’s website here, organize your tours with the Archon office of tourism here, and book a room with a sea view at Le Trianon hotel here.