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Introducing Arcachon

A long-time oyster-harvesting area on the south side of the tranquil, triangular Bassin d'Arcachon (Arcachon Bay), this seaside town lured bourgeois Bordelaise at the end of the 19th Century. Its four little quarters are romantically named for each of the seasons, with villas that evoke the town's golden past amid a scattering of 1950's architecture.

Arcachon seethes with sun-seekers in summer, but you'll find much quieter beaches a short bike ride away.