Town & Beaches

Lonely Planet review

In the Ville d'Été (Summer Quarter), Arcachon's sandy beach, Plage d'Arcachon , is flanked by two piers. Lively Jetée Thiers is at the western end. In front of the eastern pier, Jetée d'Eyrac , stands the town's turreted Casino de la Plage , built by Adalbert Deganne in 1953 as an exact replica of Château de Boursault in the Marne. Inside, it's a less-grand blinking and bell-ringing riot of poker machines and gaming tables. The sheltered basin in which Arcachon sits means the water is always absolutely flat calm and ideal for families - a far cry from most Atlantic beaches. On the flipside estuary run-off means the water is always a browner colour than the nearby open Atlantic (it's clean though).

On the tree-covered hillside south of the Ville d'Été, the century-old Ville d'Hiver (Winter Quarter) has over 300 villas, many decorated with delicate wood tracery, ranging in style from neo-Gothic through to colonial. It's an easy stroll or a short ride up the art deco public lift in Parc Mauresque.