Côte d'Argent

The Côte d’Argent or, the Silver Coast, in Southwest France is the coastline of the Aquitaine region stretching more than 200 km along the magnificent silvery sand beaches from the Gironde estuary in the north to as far south in France as Biarritz. Powerful rolling waves and miles of seascape draw families, celebrities, water lovers, surfers and wind surfers from all over the world. You’ll discover some of the best surfing beaches and surfing schools in Europe along this big sunny beach of crashing waves.

The sheer length of the Côte d’Argent means there’s lots of privacy and nature preserves to be found as well as cool towns with buzz. Golfing, swimming, sailing, cycling, horseback riding, diving or a simple paddle along the shore will keep you busy. On the other hand expect sophisticated resorts, nightlife, shopping and accommodation for every budget including great camping sites. Deserted beaches to elegant resorts, the Silver Coast has it all.

Only 30 minutes away from the Côte d’Argent on the Garonne River is the UNESCO World heritage City of Bordeaux which has long been considered one of the major Atlantic ports, accessed from the Gironde estuary at the beginning of the Côte d’Argent. Surrounding Bordeaux are the magnificent wine regions such as the Médoc which come down to meet the sea along the Côte d’Argent to the north of the Arcachon Basin. 

Arcachon, guarding the entrance of the enormous Arcachon Basin, is the beautiful sea side resort city and centre of the Côte d’Argent. Famous even in the 19th century, it was made especially accessible to wealthy Parisians when the railway opened up. Arcachon is "the" chic action central of the Côte d’Argent with a long boardwalk, shops and promenades along the beach. Restaurants galore feature all those seafood treats like oysters from the Basin and the nightlife, clubs and resorts will certainly give you a taste of "the good life". Miles of endless beaches and dunes wait for you. Throw down that special beach towel, stake out your territory under a sun umbrella, sip Crémant, the Bordelais answer to champagne, and listen to the waves!

The Dune du Pilat is probably the most spectacular and king of all dunes that you’ll ever visit in your life. Just a few minutes drive south from Arcachon, it is Europe’s largest dune measuring more than 100 meters high and over 3 km long. This giant sand hill is gathering sand constantly from the blowing winds and is advancing inland into the pine forest of "Les Landes" at a rate of 3 to 4 meters a year. Climbing or crawling to the top will reward you with spectacular views of the sea, Arcachon, Cap Ferret, the Arcachon Basin, the surrounding pine forests and the endless Sahara like dunes up and down the Côte d’Argent coastline. The puff to the top is also worth the sight of gleeful children attacking the Dune du Pilat for the best down-hill rolling experience of their lives! However, if you don’t feel like challenging the Mount Everest-like sand climb, don’t worry, there are 190 wooden steps with side railings, well ropes really, to help avert the vertigo. Puff. Puff.  Thank goodness you can look forward to moules et frites (mussels and French fries) and a cold beer or glass of wine at several outdoor restaurants at the base of the Dune du Pilat.

Other names for the great dune: Dune du Pyla, La Dune du Pylat, La Dune du Pila, La Grande Dune.

The Arcachon Basin is midway along the Côte D’Argent on the Atlantic coast and is surrounded by the pine forests of "Les Lands" and held in place by endless sand dunes stretching north and south to form the Côte d’Argent. The Basin with unlimited water sports activities, nature preserves, water parks, camping, great restaurants, nightlife, resorts and charming small beach hotels is a destination Europeans have returned to year after year after year.

Sampling the local landscape of the Arcachon Basin you might want to check out the heart of the Côte d’Argent, the sophisticated but laid back city of Arcachon. Cap Ferret is across the entrance channel from Arcachon and is perched on a long sandy arm commanding one of the best sea views around from its red and white lighthouse. Discover the small village of Arés which claimed the 1st UFO tracking station on August 15, 1976. And then of course there’s tiny L’Herbe, between the sand dunes and the sea, quietly waiting for you to explore its narrow streets and breathe in another extraordinary seascape.

The Basin is home to the largest oyster farm in the world and every year over 3 billion young oysters are sent to other French oyster farms such as those in Brittany, the Charente, Normandy and the Mediterranean. The town of Gujan-Mestras and its seven harbours is "The Oyster Capital" and a good family destination with the Cocinelle Zoo to explore. At Andernos-les-Bains, another oyster farming town, relax and watch the oyster boats being loaded, enjoy a seafood restaurant and settle into a charming hotel. This is where Sara Bernhardt chose to come during World War I.