Look and breathe
A patchwork of landscapes like nowhere else, soothing colours – the ocean, white sand, pine forests – endlessly intertwining and unravelling, infinity on the horizon and breathtaking sites! The essentials:
The Dune of Pilat – A 2,700 meter-long majestic dune wall, culminating 110 metres above the entrance to the Arcachon Basin. It also overlooks the green ocean of the forest of Landes.
The Rhune – A mythical mountain overlooking the ocean 905 metres high, it faces the Pyrenees massif and it is giant! Accessible to all ages, on foot or via the little train.
The courant d’Huchet – This nature reserve invites you on a poetic journey, on foot or on board a galupe (flat-bottomed boat) guided by one of the boatmen. You head down river in twists and turns over 9km, in a lush forest with remarkable fauna, to finally reach the estuary of Moliets.
The great lakes – The largest lakes in Europe are here, real inland oceans formed of freshwater from a multitude of rivers and the closing of the dune ridges. Enjoy water sports, gentle bathing for toddlers, hidden beaches and cycling paths.
>> In Médoc, in Landes.
Mild weather, wide spaces… the region is the number one naturist destination in the world, with the oldest and largest naturist holiday centre in France. A life philosophy in harmony with the environment. Each centre offers very different activities:
The leisure offer is varied, with the Centre Heliomarin of Montalivet (CHM), which is a village that is for families and has a surfing school, Euronat which houses a naturist thalassotherapy centre, La Jenny which is loved by kids and grown-ups with its tree-top adventure park and its green, and Arnaoutchot, a real village with shops, restaurants, a cinema and a nightclub.
Listen and see… a history that is still in vogue
Here the natural heritage has always been accompanied by a rich cultural one. Here are some historical remarks and a visit to the sites and historic seaside resorts.
We start with the St. James’ Way pilgrims taking « the coast way » via Soulac to reach Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We should also mention the belle époque and the fashion of sea bathing, the French Empress Eugénie who invited the courts of Europe to Biarritz and Sarah Bernhardt relaxing in the Arcachon Basin. We also note some scattered evidence of the Second World War and its concrete Atlantic Wall. Then, more light-heartily, we celebrate the birthplace of European surfing.
The flagship site is Cordouan! An architectural jewel nicknamed « Versailles of the sea », the Cordouan lighthouse acquired its current form in 1790, but a beacon has existed on this rock since the 9th century! Visiting it, off the coast of the Pointe de Grave in Médoc, offers a unique experience, a day unlike others.
Arcachon – Founded in the 19th century, Arcachon enjoys hidden coastal architecture treasures. Walk through its two legendary areas: the Ville d’Automne (Autumn town) with a diversity of genres expressed via the colonial style, chalets, neoclassicism, the neo-Basque or neo-Landes regionalism, and even Art Deco, and the Ville d’Hiver (Winter Town), born alongside the new « therapeutic » fashion, wanting the « good » air of Arcachon to treat phthisics, therefore leading to the building of chalets and villas in the sun with verandas and bow windows and the rounded edges of rooms favouring disinfection…
Biarritz – Since 1854, the Basque coast has been in vogue. French Empress Eugénie, Napoleon III’s wife, rediscovered the smells of her childhood in Spain there, bringing with her all the aristocracy of the time. Luxurious and sometimes eccentric holiday homes began to appear. Russian, British, Latin American, they all cultivated their own style! Can you identify them? Biarritz was also the birthplace of surfing in Europe, in 1957
Hossegor – The discreet and chic town. A paradoxical town, a young seaside resort populated by surfing enthusiasts. There is an off-season which evokes a period, that of the celebrities who came to stay, far from prying eyes. There is an intense summer, for those who come to plant their board like a totem and tackle the best waves.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz – This was a whaler, cod fisherman, freebooter repairing and privateer village. It was also a royal site welcoming the marriage of Louis XIV of France with the Infant of Spain. It also saw the birth of the future composer Maurice Ravel… It is a family seaside resort, but that’s not all. It should be discovered from the bay up to the cornice, going past the markets and the port of Ciboure. You are already in the heart of the Basque Country.
Soulac – Soulac is equipped with 500 villas in the neo-colonial or « Côte d’Argent » style, a style imported from England in the 19th century with the fashion of sea bathing. You should also go to the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Fin-des-Terres, a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity site, an important stop for the St. James’s Way pilgrims, buried by the sand for over 100 years…