Bay of Arcachon
In southwestern France, abeam of the city of Bordeaux (about 42km straight-line distance), in the Aquitaine region (Gironde department), you’ll find the idyllic Bay of Arcachon. Its size is about 155 square kilometers and it is almost separated from the Atlantic-Ocean by the peninsula of Lège Cap-Ferret. In contrast to the large neighboring lakes (Hourtin, Lacanau, Cazaux), the bay of Arcachon opens to the ocean and is characterized by its tides. Twice a day high and low tide alternate, and offer many different ways to explore this idyllic bay. You can swim, enjoy its beautiful beaches, which are ideal for children, go for a walk with a great view on sailboats, at low tides discover small crabs or enjoy the culinary specialties of the Bay in one of the Bay restaurants. Little villages with oyster ports, are situated along the 80-km-long coastline of the bay, from Cap-Ferret passing by Arcachon all the way to the dune of Pyla, the largest dune in Europe. Known for its oysters, which are considered a delicacy worldwide, the bay offers ideal conditions to many traditional oyster fishermen. Some parts of the bay have been declared natural reserve, with very interesting flora and fauna. For instance the bird island “L'ile aux Oiseaux”, located in the middle of the bay and populated by a variety of species including herons, storks, wild geese and swans, that sometimes stay the whole winter. Trips to the bird island and coastal tours are organized from the larger resorts. Between Arcachon and Cap Ferret is a regular ferry connection. Sailboats and surfboards may be rented in most marinas around the bay, as it is a wonderful sailing area.
The Dune of Pyla is located at the seaport of the bay of Arcachon, opposite the village "Cap Ferret" and south of the city of "Arcachon" and "Pyla sur Mer". With about 110 meters height and about 2.7 kilometers length, it is the largest dune in Europe. The climb, through deep sand or via wooden stairs, is worthwhile! A magnificent view over the Bay of Arcachon, the peninsula of Lège Cap-Ferret, the Atlantic-Ocean as well as the endless pine forests is waiting for you. On the seaside slope of the dune, there are many seasonal paragliders. The area was declared nature reserve in 1978.
The peninsula of Lège Cap Ferret, popular holiday destination, separates the Bay of Arcachon from the Atlantic Ocean. From north to south are located on the peninsula the villages Claouey, Les Jacquet, Petit Piquey, Grand Piquey, Piraillan, Le Canon, L'Herbe, La Vigne and Cap Ferret, the southernmost town. The horn "La Pointe" of Cap Ferret, with its wonderful view over the Dune of Pyla, and the famous lighthouse, which may be visited, are popular attractions. Furthermore, the visit of yet authentic fishing villages is highly recommended. The fishermen's huts "Cabanes de pecheurs" have their special charm; you can find them in all villages around the bay. Here you will find hidden ideally located oyster bars with small terraces, right near the water, where you can taste seafood of the region with a glass of well-chilled white wine.
Close to the main jetty of Cap-Ferret is the tourist information "Office de Tourisme", where you get maps, tour information and enough tips for a perfect holiday. Other tourist offices can be found in Le Canon and Claouey.
The peninsula of Lège Cap-Ferret offers the following activities and attractions:
- Beach-holiday for every taste
- Wide natural ocean sand-beaches – partially supervised
- Idyllic bay beaches
- Endless beach walks
- Surfing (courses for all ages are offered at almost every supervised beach, surf/ body board rental)
- Sailing and windsurfing on the lake (sailboat and windsurf rental)
- Cycling – Bike tours (very well-developed network of bike trails, all around the bay)
- Horseback Riding
- Tasting the world-famous oysters and seafood from the region
- Seasonal attractions: oyster festivals, concerts, boat races, holiday animations, for example on 14th of July (the French national holiday - the storming of the Bastille) or 15th of August (Catholic holiday - Assumption - festivals and fireworks)
- Attractions for children:
- Little train "Petit Train" in Cap-Ferret - runs hourly from jetty (bay) across the peninsula to the main beach (ocean) and back - about 2 km distance
- Children beach clubs offer entertainment for children aged 3 to 12 years – information provides the tourist office
- Sail and surf courses for children and teenagers
- Surfing for children and teenagers at almost all supervised beaches
- Various excursions and day trips – our favorites:
- Boat trip to Arcachon (from Cap-Ferret)
- Boat trip to the Banc d'Arguin (the bay offshore sandbank in the Atlantic), cruise around the bay or deep-sea-fishing for those interested
- Dune climbing on the Dune of Pyla
- Day-trip to Bordeaux
- Day-trip to the Medoc and the famous Wine Route - Wine tasting at various wineries - direct sale
- Visit of the old seaside resort Soulac-sur-Mer, near the Gironde estuary
- Day-trip to St. Emilion – home village of the world's estimated Bordeaux wines – direct sale