The Banc d'Arguin Sandbank

An ecological port of call

Golden sand, crystal-clear water, a seabird reserve and moorings on a desert island create the unique charm of the Banc d’Arguin Nature Reserve, located at the entrance to the Arcachon Bay. Recreational boaters, oyster farmers and passing nature lovers co-inhabit and ensure the site’s preservation. The sand bank is the largest on the Gironde coast; it stretches 4 km in length and 2 km in width at low tide. As soon as you step on to it, you have the incredible sensation that you are experiencing something magical, it is, without a doubt, a very special moment. Quite heavenly!

When the great outdoors rhymes with great spaces

The same for decades? Not at all… the Banc d’Arguin sand bank is constantly changing shape due to wind and sea currents. Mother Nature rules here. Its archipelagos are home to flora common to the south-west coast but also to protected species such as toadflax and eelgrass, and some highly protected fauna. The sand bank is a nesting area for birds like sandwich terns or oystercatchers. The nature reserve is also home to numerous wintering and migrating species.

 

An outstanding site which deserves respect

Obviously, access is by boat. Outside a marked protection perimeter, access to the Banc d’Arguin is possible all year-round. Guided tours are organised regularly. It has been certified as a nature reserve since 1972 and is subject to strict legislation. Notably, dogs, hunting, destruction and harvesting of plants, wild camping, bivouacs, garbage disposal, and mooring boats from sunrise to sunset are all forbidden.

 

Another Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania

Arguin? Nobody is really sure about the origin of the name. We only know that there is another Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania and that its name is linked to a Berber word designating a local plant. The African bank is sadly known for having been the scene of the French Frigate La Méduse’s shipwreck in 1816. A few years after this tragic event, the engineer Paul Monnier included Arguin on a nautical map of the Arcachon Bay for the first time. Perhaps he had been struck by the hazards of these channels known for causing shipwrecks, or by the similarity of landscapes with those found on the Mauritanian coast?