© Grégory Cassiau - Les Escapades

The Belvedere

A treasure of the Ville d'Hiver (Winter Town)

Strolling down the streets of the Winter Town is akin to discovering the Arcachon of times past, for the environment has hardly changed. During the walk, a few metres away from the Parc Mauresque, it is impossible not to notice Sainte-Cécile Observatory and its astonishing belvedere.

From Saint-Paul to Saint-Cécile

It rises to 25 metres in height, access is via the Saint-Paul walkway which is 32 metres long and spans a 15-metre ravine above Allée Pasteur to connect what were formerly called the hills of Saint-Paul and Sainte-Cécile. This monument has been very well preserved. It was built in 1863 by Paul Régnauld (main architect of the Winter Town at the time) assisted by a young engineer who became very famous a few years later: Gustave Eiffel.

 

A graciously light metal structure

The metal tower is composed of a harmonious assembly of steel parts and steel cables (components left over from the construction of the railways), with steps welded to metal drums up to the wooden observation deck. It’s fascinating but climbing up can be frightening as some parts move. Don’t panic; the structure is very secure and has already withstood the highest of winds!

A stairway to heaven

Climbing up the steps is dizzying yet thrilling. A well-earned reward awaits you at the top of the spiral staircase! From the top of the belvedere, the view is quite simply breath-taking, with an outstanding panorama. At sunset, the landscapes take on pastel hues, and we find ourselves overlooking the whole of Arcachon and its Bay. Notre-Dame d’Arcachon, Notre-Dame des Passes and Saint-Ferdinand stand proud, the Winter Town reveals the beauty of its architecture, and the Summer Town is directly below us; the town of Arcachon becomes visible and just opposite we can see the famous Cabanes Tchanquées (wooden cabins built on stilts). Just imagine it…it’s truly stunning!