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ArcachonThe French town of Arcachon has a population of 11,400 and, in the summer, the influx of holidaymakers to Arcachon swells the population to 50,000 people. Arcachon became popular with bourgeois Bordealais at the end of the 19th century, thanks to a casino, luxury seaside hotels and a new railway line. Today the attractions of Arcachon are the direct rail connection to Paris with the TGV, sea food – especially locally harvested huîtres (oysters) – wide beaches, and the highest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pilat. Arcachon is well served by buses and trains to Paris, Bordeaux and neighbouring towns.
Arcachon is on the southern shore of the Bassin d'Arcachon (Arcachon Basin), linked to the Atlantic Ocean by a 3km-wide channel. Across this channel is the peninsula of Cap Ferret, Aquitaine's mini St Tropez, buzzing all summer. Arcachon has two distinct quarters: the summertime, bayfront Ville d'Été and the sheltered, inland Ville d'Hiver to the south of the town centre. The liveliest part of the Ville d'Été is around the Jetée Thiers (Thiers Pier). The Ville d'Hiver dates back from the start of the 20th century, when rich Bordelais came to Arcachon for amusement or to recover from tuberculosis.