You have drunk your fill of the beauty and history of Bordeaux, France, on your European vacation and want to take a day trip in to the countryside. You could visit St. Emilion or Pauillac and their wineries. Instead, why not head over to Arcachon for some oysters and beach for a change? Follow this simple guide for a different experience in European culture.
For a day trip, take the train from Bordeaux to Arcachon rather than driving. It is a 55-minute ride, and the round trip fare is inexpensive. Arcachon streets are narrow and parking is difficult. Besides, you will want to spend most of your time walking the beaches rather than worrying about your car.
Wear casual clothes, as you will get quite sandy if you enjoy your day appropriately. Take along a windbreaker and sun hat. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and easy to put on and take off, so you can shake the sand from them from time to time or just take them off and enjoy the sand between your toes.
Once you arrive in Arcachon, take the bus the two and a half miles to the Dune de Pyla, billed as the biggest dune in Europe. Climb the stairs to the top of the dune to take in the glorious view of Arcachon Bay. Walk a little way and enjoy how the view changes and how the other people enjoy the sand. When it was time to descend the dune, my favorite part was sliding down in the sand instead of walking down the stairs.
Back in Arcachon, continue your fun in the sand by walking the beach. At the near end of the beach, you absolutely must ride the two-story carousel. A ride on the second story affords a marvelous view of the bay. Once the ride is done, you can stop either at a food cart near the carousel or at any of the restaurants along the beach for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine before heading in to town for some strolling. The area along the beach sports a number of small shops and cafes where you can buy anything from shoes to souvenirs. I stumbled upon a flea market, where I bought a pair of espadrilles for 10 euro.
After you browse the shops, take the ferry across to Cap Ferret . Enjoy the view of Arcachon and the dunes from the other shore. Of course, you must walk up and visit the light house.
Back in Arcachon, it is time to eat some of their famous oysters. Pick a restaurant on the beach and have your meal outside. Enjoy the sounds of the evening ocean while you enjoy your oysters and a bottle of wine.
BACK TO BORDEAUX
Another advantage of taking the train is basking in the afterglow of your day trip while someone else does the driving. With your fill of oysters and beach, tomorrow you can venture back in to wine country.