Discover the Cabanes Tchanquées

These are genuine curiosities of the Arcachon Bay’s architectural heritage.

 The Île aux Oiseaux (Bird Island)

Just off the coast from Arcachon, the Île aux Oiseaux (Bird Island) is a little corner of naturally wild paradise of 3 km sq. in the middle of the Bay. Among the fifty-three wooden cabins on the Ile aux Oiseaux, feature the two famous cabins standing proudly above the water.

A thousand pictures have been taken of these architectural marvels which are an icon of Arcachon Bay and are known locally as the Cabanes Tchanquées. In Gascon, tchanquées are the stilts traditionally used by shepherds. During an unmissable excursion of your stay in Arcachon, you will have the chance to admire them in all their splendour and to bring back your own photographs!

A fabulous getaway following the tracks of this precious historical heritage at sea awaits you. Leaving from the Port of Arcachon or the Port of Le Moulleau, a good number of excursions in “pinasses” or by boat are organised for the Île aux Oiseaux. It’s also an ideal opportunity to discover the oyster farms on the periphery of this listed natural heritage site, which seems to be at lands’ end.

 

The Cabanes tchanquées: 19th century heritage

Historically, the first wooden cabins were built by the Bay’s oyster farmers so they could keep watch over their oyster farms without being dependent on the tides.

The first Cabane Tchanquée on the l’île aux Oiseaux was built on a sand bank by the oyster farmer Martin Pivert in 1883 close to the oyster farms. Perched high on stilts, the view over the imperial oyster farms was breath-taking and these shelters made it possible for the guards to protect the farms against thieves by day or by night, at high or low tide. It was victim to a storm, in 1943 and collapsed due to capricious weather and elements. The remainders of the wooden foundations are still visible today at low tide.

On the same model, a new cabin was built in 1945 by Monsieur Landry, a carpenter from Arcachon. It was given the N° 51 and was brown in colour with red shutters. Then in 1948, it was the turn of Monsieur Longau, the deputy mayor for building works at La Teste-de-Buch Town Hall and a builder himself, to build his own Cabane Tchanquée. His cabin N° 53 has white shutters and visitors are still delighted by it today.

Please be aware that boats can only access the Cabanes Tchanquées at high tide. At low tide, you will need to go bare foot through the mud to get close. Bookings for daily excursions to the Île aux Oiseaux should be made at the Tourist Office, at the ticket office on the piers or on the service providers’ websites.