1 review of Ville d'hiver in English
On your right, the Promemade des Anglais, on your left the Anglican Lane and in front of you : Fleming Square. Where in France are you ? Because YOU ARE in France although the church in your back was in inaugurated by the archbishop of London 1878. And this is not, as you might have wrongly guessed the French Riviera, this is Arcachon on the West coast and more specifically its winter town “La Ville d’hiver”. The place was dug into a massive dune at the end of the nineteenth century to create a village dedicated to wealthy but not so healthy people who could rent eccentric villas were everything was planned to protect their health. Here the streets are organised to prevent draughts and keep the hot or cold weather out. The layout is a succession of narrow lanes, trees and flowers and, of course… villas. Most of them are now historic buildings, all of them are a feast to the eye. The English were among the first to be attracted by this labyrinth and an Anglican reverent, Samuel Radcliff, even used to advertise the place by organising rally-papers for his guests.
If you decide to come here, which I strongly recommend, you will find plans and directories of the villas on the internet but ,as you walk through the winding alleyways, don’t trust any plan. Most of the villas (and streets) have changed names along the years. Take the time to stop in front of the Grand Hotel de la Foret, which is now called the Regina Hotel to avoid confusion with the Grand Hotel (as I say, don’t trust the names). This was the scene of a very special event when, just after WW1, it’s grand staircase was used to demonstrate the ability of army vehicles to climb up slopes.
Allow at least half a day for the visit.
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