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Arcachon (Municipality, Gironde, France)

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[Flag of Arcachon]by Arnaud Leroy


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Presentation of Arcachon

The city and sea resort of Arcachon (15,000 inhabitants) is located on the Bassin d'Arcachon (Arcachon Basin). The flat, sandy coast between the estuary of Gironde and the Pyrénées mountain is nicknamed Côte d'Argent (Silver Coast).

The Arcachon Basin (c. 15,000 ha) is a brackish pond linked to the Atlantic Ocean by a narrow bottleneck (width 3 km). Oysters have been "fished" in Arcachon Basin since ages: the Latin poets Ausone (310-395) and Sidoine Apollinaire (431-487), as well as Gargantuta's father François Rabelais (1494-1553) enjoyed them a lot. In 1859, the naturalist Victor Coste established the scientific basis of oyster-farming. Wild oyster beds were nearly exhausted at that time. Initially, the gravette, or Arcachon flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) was more common in the Basin than the Portuguese hollow oyster (Crassostrea angulata). In 1920, a disease killed all the flat oysters but the hollow ones were immune. In 1970, another disease killed all the Portuguese oysters, and Japanese oysters (Crassostrea gigas) were imported to replace them.The oyster production of Arcachon Basin is c. 18,000 t per year and stretches over 1,800 ha of beds. Most spat used in Brittany, Normandy, Languedoc and Netherlands oyster-farms is produced in the Arcachon Basin.

The city of Arcachon is made of four quartiers (boroughs):

Eight km south of Arcachon stands the Pilat dune, the highest sand dune in Europe (height, 114 m; length, 2.7 km; width, 500 m).

In 1841, a railway line was built to link Bordeaux and la Teste. In 1845, a landing stage was built 5 km north of la Teste. A road was opened through the salt meadows and the first houses of Arcachon were built. In 1852, the brothers Jacob Emile (1800-1875) and Isaac (1806-1880) Pereire, from Bordeaux, founded the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi (Railway Company of the South) and purchased the Bordeaux-La Teste line, which was extended to Arcachon. In the beginning of the 1860s, they bought most of Arcachon and built a railway station, a Moorish casino (burned in 1977), a Grand Hotel and several houses. In 1866, Arcachon, already known as a sea resort, became also a winter resort, prescribed to people suffering from tuberculosis.

The fishing port of Arcachon was in the past one of the most innovative ones in France. The port saw in 1837 the first steam trawler in the world; in 1865, the first French steamer with a propeller and an iron hull; and in 1927, the Victoria, the first French motorized trawler.

Source: Guide Vert Michelin Pyrénées-Aquitaine-Côte Basque

Ivan Sache, 22 January 2002


Municipal flag of Arcachon

According to the municipal administration, the flag of Arcachon is vertically divided black-white-yellow with the municipal coat of arms placed in the middle of the white stripe.

The lower part of the shield shows a vessel and something which I identify as the lighthouse of Cap-Ferret, rebuilt in 1947, which indicates the opening of the bottleneck linking the Arcachon Basin to the Atlantic Ocean. The red field over a blue sea might recall the arms of Bordeaux, the city of the Pereire brothers, the founders of Arcachon. The upper part of the shield shows a pine on a sandy dune, which are the most striking elements of the landscape around Arcachon. The beehive may refer to economical activity and once again to the Pereire brothers or, more simply, to local honey production, as it is the case in the flag and arms of the neighbouring city of Cestas.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2002

The motto on the sroll placed below the shield says:

Heri solitudo - Hodie civitas, which means 'Yesterday in solitude - today urban".

Rob Raeside, 3 May 2003


Common variant of the flag of Arcachon

[Variant of the flag]by Jérôme Sterkers

The flag of Arcachon is often seen without the coat of arms.


Cercle de la Voile d'Arcachon

[Burgee of the CV Arcachon]by Ivan Sache

The burgee of Cercle de la Voile d'Arcachon is a triangular white flag with a blue-red cross voided throughout.

Source: CVA website

Ivan Sache, 13 July 2002


Yacht Club du Bassin d'Arcachon

The list of the clubs affiliated to Yacht Club de France shows the burgee of Yacht Club du Bassin d'Arcachon (apparently, the image is very small) as horizontally divided red-blue by a wavy white line and charged with a yellow disc bearing the blue (?) letters YCB.

Ivan Sache, 28 December 2004

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