Arcachon is the oldest resort town on the Cote d’Argent. It will take you around three quarters of an hour by rail from Bordeaux. Arcachon is known for the “Arcachon villa”, which is the architectural style of many of the older houses there. It is a type of Victorian architecture. A destination resort with beautiful beaches and boardwalks, Arcachon is the largest town on the Bay of Arcachon, which empties into the Atlantic just 45 minutes west of Bordeaux. The bay is Europe’s oyster capital, and is a commercial and sport fishing center as well.
As was briefly mentioned, the oyster industry of Arcachon is two-fold: growing oysters for the market and growing seed oysters (“Naissains “) for oyster growers elsewhere in Europe. The later is a fascinating business, founded in a boatload of history and features a number of interesting techniques. Arcachon is easily reachable by car as well as train. Some tourists choose to travel by plane, either flying to the nearby airport of Teste-de-Buch or to Bordeux and catching a train from there. Arcachon is a seaside resort on the shores of the Atlantic ocean. The spring of Saint Anne of the Abatilles has enabled Arcachon to become a health town with offering thalassatherapy and water cures.
The town of Arcachon is only 150 years old. Not long before the 2nd of May 1857, when Emperor Napoleon III signed its official “birth certificate”, it was just a forest of pine trees, oaks and strawberry trees (arbutus), with no road links, and home – mostly when the weather was expected to be warm, and more in wood huts than in real houses – to fewer than 400 people, mostly fishermen and peasants.
In 1920, a disease killed all the flat oysters but the hollow ones were immune. In 1970, another disease killed all the Portuguese oysters, and Japanese oysters ( Crassostrea gigas ) were imported to replace them.The oyster production of Arcachon Basin is c. From the oyster complex of La Teste up to the port of la Hume, at Gujan-Mestras, stretches a vast zone of salty meadows and fish basins sheltered by an impressive succession of stony dikes. The district of La Teste offers its visitors a woodland of 13000 hectares, which includes the almost 4000 hectares of the famous users forest of La Teste, that stretches from the Dune of Pilat up to the Lake of Cazaux.
I asked him to explain the process of oyster production. There are tasting (‘degustation’) opportunities all around the Bassin and you’ll discover all manner of ways of cooking oysters – to live like a local, try steaming them over a bed of pine needles! Two years ago, sales were suspended for almost a month after the death of two elderly tourists who had eaten local oysters. Tests later proved that both tourists had died from other causes.