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Arcachon, the Landes forest and the Dune of Pilat
Arcachon, the Landes forest and the Dune of Pilat
Coat of arms of Arcachon
Coat of arms
Location of Arcachon
Arcachon is located in France
Arcachon is located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Coordinates: 44°39′N 1°10′W / 44.65°N 1.17°W / 44.65; -1.17Coordinates: 44°39′N 1°10′W / 44.65°N 1.17°W / 44.65; -1.17
CantonLa Teste-de-Buch
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Yves Foulon
7.56 km2 (2.92 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2017)[1]
 • Density1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
33009 /33120
Elevation0–45 m (0–148 ft)
(avg. 8 m or 26 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Arcachon (French: [aʁ.ka.ʃɔ̃] ; Arcaishon in Gascon) is a commune in the southwestern French department of Gironde. It is a popular seaside resort on the Atlantic coast 55 kilometres (34 mi) southwest of Bordeaux, in the Landes forest.[not verified in body] It has a sandy beach and a mild climate said to be favourable for invalids suffering from pulmonary complaints. Arcachon is twinned with 5 cities.

Arcachon seen by satellite


In 1857, Emperor Napoleon III signed an imperial decree declaring that Arcachon was now an autonomous municipality, coincidentally, the railway line extension from Bordeaux to Arcachon had been completed that same year.[2] At that time, Arcachon was scarcely more than a forest of pine trees, oaks and strawberry trees (arbutus), with no road links and few real houses, with a population fewer than 400 people, mostly fishermen and peasants. In earlier years, when some hygienists began to recommend sea bathing, three sea establishments were laid out by investors to attract the Bordeaux bourgeoisie and other wealthy people.[2] This was the beginning of a new lifestyle, and some of the locals got the opportunity to claim their independence from La Teste-de-Buch, which owned their properties, in order to found a "free" new town, Arcachon.[citation needed][3] Until 1950, tuberculosis patients also visited Arcachon for fresh-air treatments.[4]

Arcachon is known for the "Arcachonnaise", the local name for an Arcachon villa, the architectural style of many of the older houses built there. It is a Victorian style that was criticized for generations, but is now considered to be charming.[5][citation needed]

The United States Navy established a naval air station on 8 June 1918 to operate seaplanes during World War I. The base closed shortly after the First Armistice at Compiègne.[6]


The historic populations of Arcachon from 1861 until 2008 appears in this table.[citation needed]

Historical population
1861 736—    
1866 2,065+180.6%
1872 3,696+79.0%
1876 4,981+34.8%
1881 7,133+43.2%
1886 8,102+13.6%
1891 7,910−2.4%
1896 8,221+3.9%
1901 8,259+0.5%
1906 9,279+12.4%
1911 10,266+10.6%
1921 10,634+3.6%
1926 12,261+15.3%
1931 13,135+7.1%
1936 13,102−0.3%
1946 14,603+11.5%
1954 14,985+2.6%
1962 14,862−0.8%
1968 14,986+0.8%
1975 13,892−7.3%
1982 13,293−4.3%
1990 11,770−11.5%
1999 11,459−2.6%
2008 11,789+2.9%


At its southern entrance from the Atlantic Ocean, Arcachon Bay is crowned by Europe's largest sand dune, the Dune du Pilat, nearly 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) long, 500 metres (1,600 feet) wide, reaching 110 metres (360 feet) in height, and moving inland at rate of 5 metres (16 feet) a year.[7] Arcachon is one of the largest towns within the Landes forest, alongside Arcachon, Dax, and Mont-de-Marsan.

The city enjoys a mild climate thanks to the gulf stream, a warm and swift Atlantic ocean current originating from the gulf of Mexico.

Map of Landes of Gascony


The nearest airport is the Bordeaux Merignac Airport. The city is daily served by the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine from Bordeaux and also by the TGV Atlantique from Paris on weekends. Public transportation is operated by buses.


On the other side of the Bassin d'Arcachon is Cap Ferret, a popular resort for celebrities including Zinedine Zidane and Jean Pierre Pernaut, who have holiday homes.[citation needed]

Twin towns - sister cities[edit]

Arcachon is twinned with: [8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2017". INSEE. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b "L'Histoire de la ville d'Arcachon". 2018.
  3. ^ Guédon, Marcel (2005). Arcachon 150 ans d'histoire. Elytis. ISBN 978-2914659512.
  4. ^ "The Arcachon Bay-a cosy cocoon".
  5. ^ Tilliac, Pierre. "Architecture : le style « Bassin » joue toujours les vedettes à Arcachon". Sud Ouest.
  6. ^ Van Wyen, Adrian O. (1969). Naval Aviation in World War I. Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 65.
  7. ^ "Dune du Pilat – Europe's Largest Sand Dune". The French Atlantic 2018.
  8. ^ "Ville d'Arcachon". Annuaire Mairie.

External links[edit]