The seaside resort of Arcachon is built on a lagoon and is quite famous for its oyster farms. For decades the town’s winter resort was the favorite haunt of celebrities from Alexandre Dumas to Jean Cocteau and Marilyn Monroe. In 1841, a new branch line extended the railway from Bordeaux to La Teste, a favourite bathing place for holiday makers from the big city. In 1845, a deep-water landing stage was constructed five kilometres north of La Teste and the two towns were linked by a road across the salt marshes. Villas were subsequently built along the road, and Arcachon was born. In 1852, the Pereire brothers, Émile and Isaac, founded a railway company, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi, and took over the Bordeaux-La Teste line which they extended to Arcachon. At the beginning of the 1860s, they purchased forest land from the State. To make the line profitable, they started building facilities to attract clients—a beautiful railway station, a Chinese-style dining room, a luxury hotel, a Moorish casino and several mansions. The plans for the first buildings were mainly the work of Paul Régnault assisted by the young Gustave Eiffel. Already a summer resort popular for sea bathing, the town also became a winter resort in 1866, attracting tuberculosis patients. It was not until after 1935 that Arcachon became a popular seaside and tourist resort as well as a health resort. The Summer Resort and the pleasant promenade shaded by slender tamarix trees overlooks Arcachon’s fine, sandy beaches. It stretches along the seafront between Jetée de la Chapelle and Jetée d’Eyrac, attracting tourists to its terrace cafés and sumptuous villas. A nice place to have a lunch of moules frites our homemade paella is the Restaurant Le Cap along the Jetée Moulleau with its exceptional views overlooking the lagoon. One of the most elegant buildings along the shoreline is the neo-Renaissance Château Deganne, which also houses the famous Casino. Another Arcachon landmark is the Croix des Marins which was erected on this site in 1722. It blew down during a storm and was replaced in 1855 along the jetty. The jetty offers a general view of the resort and the lagoon. The Winter Resort, further inland and more sheltered from the sea breezes, is a quiet, pine-shaded area whose broad avenues are lined with handsome late 19th century and early 20th century villas. Another beautiful building in Arcachon is the recently renovated Hôtel de Ville which was built under the direction of Julien Dmokowsky in 1858. The green expanse of the Parc Mauresque lying above the town center makes it Arcachon’s most peaceful district. The park offers an excellent view of the town and the Arcachon lagoon especially from the top of the Observatoire Sainte-Cécile. This metal-framed observatory by Gustave Eiffel can be reached by a metal footbridge over allée Pasteur. The Église Notre Dame is a 19th century church which includes the Chapelle des Marins, adorned with numerous model boats which were given in thanksgiving for ships that were rescued from danger at sea. One of the most interesting things that I witnessed while in Arcachon was the annual commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe. The ceremony took place in front of the monument to the dead of Arcachon, erected in 1922 by the sculptor Alexandre Maspoli. I stayed the night in Arcachon at the Residence l’Aquarium which was actually a large apartment with three large rooms including a kitchen and living room. It was quite elegant and I would highly recommend it as a place to stay for a week or so during the summer. Nearby in the neighborhood of Moulleau is the church of Notre-Dame des Passes. This church was once the chapel of a Dominican convent built in 1863 in the Greek Orthodox style by architect Michel-Louis Garros. Inside, to the right of the altar is a 19th century statue called La Vierge de l'Avent, one of only three statues in France depicting the Virgin Mary pregnant with child.