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Arcachon

A long-time oyster-harvesting area on the southern 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 1950s architecture.

Arcachon's generous swathe of golden-sand beach seethes with sun-seekers in summer, but there are plenty of equally sandy but less-crowded beaches, including the lovely Plage des Arbousiers, just a short bike ride away. Arcachon is the perfect launch pad for swashbuckling adventures on nearby Dune du Pilat, Europe's highest sand dune.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Arcachon.

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