«visit» Arcachon internet site history text page «Arcachon rose from the sea air, the scent of the pine trees, the train and the inspiration of financers, who were in fashion during the last century». The history of Arcachon has always been closely linked to the sea and the first activities were greatly dependent to this bond between the land and the bay.
The rise of Arcachon is linked to the arrival of sea-bathing that was
fashionable during the Restoration period. This bathing craze was due to
medical requirements as well as fashion and leisure. It is to this dynasty of
doctors, the forerunners of today's climatotherapy and thalassotherapy, that
the resort owes its initial success.
Accommodation was limited to the rental of just a couple of resinier huts, when Captain François Legallais, a sailor from Normandy, opened the first bathing hotel of the region in August 1823.
The sea-bathing fashion brought a «foreign community» of highnesses and celebrities, crowned heads, major families, men of letters and opera singers. The seafront, which stretched over three kilometres, saw chalets and villas being built that foreshadowed the Summer Town. This was the beginning of the expansion of Arcachon.
2nd May 1857, Arcachon becomes a town under the imperial decree of Napoleon
III. On the same day, the railway line between Bordeaux and La Teste is
extended to Arcachon. In order to make this investment profitable, the Pereire
brothers, Emile and Isaac (rich bankers and the main shareholders of the
Railway Company of the Midi) buy 96 ha of forest and create the Winter Town,
for themselves and for the Company. From Spring 1862 onwards, avenues and
roads are planned; the casino and villas appear out of the sand. Opulent
villas of different styles appear in a maze of small «alleys curved so as to
be protected from the wind». The Winter Town has been registered and listed as
a historical building since 1985.
In 1858, a new municipal legislation in Arcachon: "when sea-bathing, be fully dressed from the neck to the heels, if you please!"
In 1863, the short stay by Napoleon III and its media coverage, puts Arcachon in the ranking of the great health resorts.
Sea-bathing, the Winter Town and the railway are the good fortune of Arcachon and its visitors. In 1926, Arcachon is classified as a seaside resort.
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