What to see in France

Camping by Arcachon Bay for a holiday vibe!

Vue aérienne de la dune du Pilat et le banc d'Arguin dans le bassin d'Arcachon
Vue aérienne de la dune du Pilat et le banc d'Arguin dans le bassin d'Arcachon


Located in Gironde amid the Landes de Gascogne and 50 kilometres from Bordeaux, Arcachon Bay is a lagoon opening onto the Atlantic Ocean, forming a genuine inland sea of 155 km2 complete with tides, where people farm oysters and also enjoy sailing and fishing. It is separated from the ocean by Cap-Ferret, the Dune of Pilat and the Banc d'Arguin sandbank, a listed nature reserve.

There are no fewer than 35 campsites to choose from in Arcachon Bay. You can stay in a mobile home, chalet, caravan or tent, an ideal base for exploring the area.

On the Arcachon side...

Arcachon is a town to discover in all seasons, since each neighbourhood has its own season. So you can explore the Summer Town and its jetties, all greatly appreciated for the superb views they offer. In the Winter Town, you can discover the charm of the town's most beautiful houses, the famous 19th-century villas typical of Arcachon, whereas in the Spring and Autumn Towns, you can get to know the harbour, the lovely district of Le Moulleau, Les Abatilles Spring and Pereire beach. The cycle ride to the Sainte-Cécile observatory is strongly recommended if you want to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole town! It's a fun activity that children and the whole family love.


You can enjoy 220 kilometres of cycle paths around the pond. Needless to say, everything there is designed for an easy family bike ride.

... and the Dune of Pilat

The Dune of Pilat is around 12 kilometres from Arcachon, roughly speaking... since it moves up to 5 metres every year under the influence of the winds and tides. This is a real particularity of the Aquitaine coast that can't fail to impress you. Although its height is attractive, you're also sure to be dazzled by the beauty of its environment as well as the superb view from the top. You can visit this natural monument in motion with one of the guided tours, "Balades commentées du Grand Site", by day or at sunset from April to September. For children, there are also activities like workshops, scavenger hunts and card games.


To help you make the most of the Dune of Pilat, the Le Petit Nice**** campsite is located just 2 kilometres from the dune and offers you an exceptional view of the Banc d'Arguin, a sandbank in constant movement. It has been a listed nature reserve since 1972 and can be admired at low tide and from the dune.


The dune of Pilat
The dune of Pilat© Adobe Stock


Le Teich Bird Reserve

There is (another) unspoilt natural site of 120 hectares which is home to wild birds and encourages the public to spot them. This exceptional walk can be enjoyed on a circuit of 6 kilometres, or 2.5 if you take the shortcut, which is suitable for little ones. The reserve is located 20 kilometres from Arcachon by road, in the municipality of Le Teich. Lastly, this natural area is open all year round.

Outings on the water

You can take a boat trip to discover the Arcachon Bay from within. This way you can walk along the sand on the Banc d'Arguin or discover the Ile aux Oiseaux (Bird Island). Both these sites are only accessible by boat. Sea shuttles are available to take you from one site to the other over the water. Indeed, it's much quicker to go from Arcachon to Cap Ferret by boat than by car. If you drive, you have to go all the way around the bay along a single road that is often busy in the summer.


Arcachon bay, Cap Ferret side
Arcachon bay, Cap Ferret side© Adobe Stock


On the Cap Ferret side

Once you've crossed over to Cap Ferret by boat, with your bike if you like, take a walk along the jetty, unwind on the beach and have a swim in the peaceful water of the bay if the season lends itself to it. At high tide, you will always find water on the ocean side, as well as some big waves at times. Many beaches between Cap Ferret and Arès are supervised so the whole family can enjoy the beach with peace of mind. If you are feeling energetic enough to climb to the top of the lighthouse (258 steps), you won't regret it as it offers a stunning view. Continue your outing, for example by bike along the cycle path, much of which runs through the pine forest, all the way to the oyster-farming village of L'Herbe. You can't fail to be charmed by its winding streets leading to the water. Don't forget to stop and sample a few oysters in one of the pretty waterside huts that serve them. The children can play on the beach while you keep an eye on them.


A wide range of campsites of all categories can be found on the peninsula, like the Les Viviers**** campsite, located in Lège Cap Ferret, some fifteen kilometres from the village of Cap Ferret, a real camping club with a water park, islands by Arcachon Bay and the ocean 5 kilometres away. Three kilometres north in the same municipality, you have a big choice of accommodation at the Les Embruns**** campsite, with its sports activities, kids' club and shows in season. The Fontaine Vieille*** campsite is located in Andernos les Bains, on the edge of Arcachon Bay, where life moves to the rhythm of its tides.

See the Cabanes Tchanquées close up

We also recommend leaving your bike at the campsite for an outing on the water to get closer to the Ile aux Oiseaux and its Cabanes Tchanquées, two houses built on stilts in the middle of the bay to keep watch over the oyster beds back in the day. Bear in mind that the higher the tide, the closer you can get to the houses by boat. More athletic visitors can even get there by kayak. These houses can be visited all year round but you can't go inside.


A Cabane Tchanquée of the Arcachon bay
A Cabane Tchanquée of the Arcachon bay© Adobe Stock



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