The Villas of Arcachon

Posted on 02. May, 2012 by in Europe Travel

All of you GPS owners will know what I’m talking about.

These small, handy devices seem have the best intentions - but sometimes, they are so intent on taking us on a completely nonsense journey, for the sake of saving a few minutes. Why stick to boulevards when you can take a residential street?

But on the other hand, I guess it’s the modern version of the old travel adage “getting lost is the best way to travel”. And that’s exactly what happened to me on my latest roadtrip, when I made my way west of Bordeaux, direction: the Atlantic Ocean. I wanted to make a quick stop in Arcachon, the most popular destination in the area.

When I typed “downtown Arcachon” on my GPS, I had no idea it would take me to a quiet neighborhood that had nothing to do with the bustling bay side streets I had pictured. But for once, I was happily surprised by the detours of my trusty GPS when I took in the beautiful houses of Boulevard Deganne.

The villas of Arcachon actually have an architectural style all of their own - maisons arcachonnaises. Inspired by the Victorian style, they slowly started to fill the city at the end of the 19th century by the tuberculosis-afflicted bourgeois in search of better health. It was widely believed that the fresh saline air mixed with the forest smells of the nearby Gascogne Park was the perfect antidote for tuberculosis and other diseases.

Something that made me smile is that all the houses seem to have a name. Le muguet (lily of the valley), Atala, or even just regular French names. In true villa style!

Arcachon is, by European standards, a fairly new town - up until the mid 1800s, it was still a luxuriant forest until rich businessmen from Bordeaux established themselves in the area in search of tranquility and health. It reminded me of European thermal bath cities, that all have a relaxing atmosphere and are very epicurean - and of course, super affordable real estate, villa style.

Do you like it when your GPS seems to take you on mysterious journeys? Have you been to Arcachon or similar towns?

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12 Responses to “The Villas of Arcachon”

  1. Alexa Meisler

    02. May, 2012

    These houses are stunning. I’m actually thinking about naming my house Le Muguet now. Beautiful shots!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      You should plants some muguets around your house then, and make it a theme! ;)

      Reply to this comment
  2. Katherina

    03. May, 2012

    These houses look like taken straight out of a fairy tale!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Andrea

    03. May, 2012

    Looks like something out of a fairytale!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Laurence

    03. May, 2012

    Those are some pretty houses :D

    Reply to this comment
  5. D.J. - The World of Deej

    03. May, 2012

    Sometimes its fun to get lost:) What cool looking houses!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      Yes, I’m really happy I happened to drive there by accident. So pretty :)

      Reply to this comment
  6. Turtle

    31. May, 2012

    Maybe it wasn’t an accident… maybe the GPS actually knew what it was doing :)

    Reply to this comment

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    [...] of Gascogne National Park, on the other, the Atlantic Ocean, and on the far right, the Bay of Arcachon. Three completely different landscapes at only a few kilometers away from another.The Bay of [...]

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