A mesotidal lagoon opening out to the Atlantic Ocean, the “bassin d’Arcachon” is a small inland sea of 115 km2 at high tide, 40 km2 at low tide. Arcachon is its sub-prefecture. To the south lie La Teste-de-Buch, Gujan-Mestras and Le Teich-de-Buch, whose major assets are oyster farming and the tourist industry.
A charming seaside resort, Arcachon is made up of the “Ville d’été”, corresponding to the town centre, the “Ville d’automne” between the centre and the harbour, the “Ville de printemps” between the “Ville d’été” and the beaches, and the “Ville d’hiver” on the hills. Over the past few months, the heart of Arcachon has been treated to rehabilitation and now offers a new look with pedestrian streets and new developments. For while it is indeed a seaside resort largely depending on tourism, Arcachon is in fact lively all year round. These latest offerings propose brand new apartments ranging from 5,500 to 6,500 €/m2 ; they come with terraces, elevators and garages, all appealing to retirees and people working locally. One can also find lovely houses here in the heart of town, with views and access to the beach, especially along the Boulevard de la Plage. The Dutch are particularly fond of this type of property. Small houses are acquired by visitors who want a pied-à-terre for holidays ; examples of 60 m2, with very small gardens and renovation on the agenda, are up for sale at prices between 140,000 and 160,000 €. Large “Arcachonnaise” houses, often split into apartments with 1 to 3 bedrooms, can be found in the “Ville d’hiver”. Prices here start at 4,500 €/m2 and attain 5,500 €/m2 depending on appointments. The “Ville d’automne” neighbourhood is pleasant and lively ; houses and apartments in recent residences cost from 4,000 to 5,500 €/m2, drawing retirees and people still of working age. Highly sought-after, the “Ville de printemps” is close to the beaches, whence its popularity, with the result that there are few properties available to meet this strong and steady demand.
Considered as Arcachon’s capital of oyster farming, Gujan-Mestras has no less than seven harbours opening out to the sea. Posting slightly lower prices per sq. metre than Arcachon, the commune has 1,8794 inhabitants, old houses, but also new residences which find favour among locals and visitors alike. La Teste-de-Buch lies between Gujan-Mestras and Biscarrosse : the seaside resort of Pyla-sur-Mer, the village of Cazaux (with its army base), the Île aux Oiseaux and Banc d’Arguin all belong to this commune. “This area receives a lot of interest as a fall-back market,” remarks Stéphane Pillon of the Agence Centrale Orpi Arcachon. “Building land is still available, and you can acquire a plot and build on it for a relatively reasonable price.” The Agence Centrale Orpi Arcachon
has, in fact, just signed an agreement with a builder/developer of timberframe homes and proposes tailormade, turnkey homes which are 100 % French. For 280,000 €, and within barely six months, you can become the owner of a house of 120 m2 (130,000 €) on a plot of 500 m2 (150,000 €). A solution very popular among first-time buyers who pay, for example, 60,000 € for a small plot and 88,000 € for a house of 70 m2, ie. the same price they would pay for a 1-bedroom apartment in La Teste. And precisely on the subject of La Teste, the town centre is brand new after being a large building site for a full two years. In addition to about 40 shops and parking facilities, the Espace Captal proposes apartments freshly risen from the ground, snapped up by residents working locally. Fans of houses have a choice between small “Arcachonnaises” from 250,000 to 400,000 € and large villas from 700,000 to 800,000 €. In the case of apartments, the sq. metre ranges from 3,000 € (to renovate) to 4,500 € in a new residence.
Finally, Le Teich, which forms part of the regional nature park of Les Landes de Gascogne. This was where the first inhabitants of the Bassin d’Arcachon settled. “This is a tiny sector which has hung onto its country atmosphere,” explains Béatrice Bedecarrasburu of Square Habitat Arcachon
. Nestling in extensive grounds, the appealing Landaise houses are acquired by people working in Arcachon or Bordeaux. Depending on their appointments and/or any refurbishment to be done, they are priced between 2,500 and 4,200 €/m2. Arcachon and the southern basin are attractive for their scenery, quality living standards and original properties comprised of architect-designed homes, on the seafront or further inland, fishermen’s cottages either rehabilitated or new, but in identical style, with timberframe structures. The exemplary residential neighbourhood of Le Pyla boasts a few beautiful family homes, perfectly restored to harmonize with the setting, and architect-designed houses, one of which recently sold for 1,250,000 €, offering living space of just under 200 m2. Still in Le Pyla, on the seafront, a property of 450 m2 in Art Deco style is up for sale at over 4.5 million euros. In La Teste, currently considered as a fashionable address, an oyster farmer’s “cabane” of 90 m2, fully restored and benefiting from a small garden and small pool, recently sold for 430,000 €. “These properties are sought-after by clients who are genuinely fond of the Bassin d’Arcachon and are treating themselves to a dream. However, it would be a good thing if prices stopped rising and came back to more realistic levels,” says Cédric Fourteau of Ateliers Lofts et Associés
. “Over the past ten years, soaring prices have taken the market to an almost unaffordable level.” A level which apparently does not put off a clientele of French nationals working in London, often in the City, who are investing in enviable properties priced from 1.5 to 5 million euros. It’s not rare that they then put their acquisitions on the market for summer rentals, benefiting from them personally in off-season periods.
This very active seasonal rental market is also witnessing clear expansion, in La Teste and Le Mulleau. In Arcachon, a house in Les Abatilles, Peirère or on the front row, sleeping 6 to 8 guests, costs from 3,000 to 6,000 € per fortnight. In La Teste, a house sleeping 6 will cost 2,000 € for the same period. The tenants, mostly French, often sign on the dotted line for the following year before they have left the premises. Enthusiasm which, apart from a unique setting and a pleasant climate, is also explained by the fact that low-cost airlines now land in Bordeaux Mérignac, just a 40-min. drive to Arcachon.