Arcachon - France

Between the Atlantic Ocean and the pine forests of the Landes Regional Park, Arcachon and nearby Pyla-sur-Mer offer beachcombers 80 km of pale yellow sands, rising to the skies as Europe's highest sand dune. Arcachon's popularity only dates from the 1850's, when a Parisian banker invested in a rail line from Bordeaux to the coast. Simple and elaborate villas popped up in a vast array of styles as the town gained prestige among vacationing artists, writers, counts and duchesses. Unpretentious and sparkling, the town is a sandy pearl in a region of oysters. Typical excursions include the town, Bordeaux, St. Emilion and the Vineyards.