Before we headed west to Arcachon last Monday (September 27), I had very little idea of what to expect.
I figured that the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Arcachon would play starring roles in the area, and that there might be a lot of fishing boats in evidence. After all, Arcachon is well known as a place for harvesting delicious oysters. As for the town itself, I’m afraid I wasn’t expecting much. Well, what a surprise.
It turns out that Arcachon is definitely an impressive place, and my kind of town: clean, well-ordered and well-designed, with wide streets and a host of good shops (including prestige brands) and of course, restaurants and cafés. Sidewalks have low curbs, making it easy for people with walking disabilities to move along, and the promenade around the town’s beach is wide, well-paved, and attractive.
Here’s a view looking back towards our hotel, with restaurant after restaurant facing the promenade and the beach:
One of the many surprises was the weight given to public art, including some impressive (and impressively tall) statues, by a sculptor named Bruno Catalano. I did a bit of research on him, and discovered that he was born in Morocco, but moved to Marseilles as a child. He’s currently 61 years old. Here’s one of his pieces, called “Van Gogh,” on the waterfront of Arcachon:
Catalano includes in his works a series called Travellers, and this one in Arcachon is known simply as Benoit:
Finally, here’s an even larger display, with three separate but related pieces:
On the Arcachon beach itself, we found this incredible array of animals — all formed from sand, and then sealed with an acrylic paint. The artist was sitting near his works when we passed, and we learned that he comes from Benin in West Africa [Correction: In an earlier version of this posting, I wrote that he was from North Africa]. We chatted briefly, and then made a donation to help support his work. Have a look — most of the creatures seemed absolutely life-like, to the point that we thought a black dog in the centre of the display must be a real dog:
So when we left Arcachon, we made a promise to return. Possibly next May. It’s quite a place.