This observation tower, completed in 1863, was the brainchild of Paul Regnauld. Regnauld, who was also the man behind the casino in the nearby Parc Mauresque, was an engineer with the railway operators Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi, owned by the brothers Émile and Isaac Pereire, who did much to promote and develop the town of Arcachon. Regnauld was also behind the conception of the first wave of elegant villas in the Ville d’Hiver quarter, as well as designing a railway bridge in Bordeaux, the 1858-1860 construction of which was led by a young man called Gustave Eiffel.
Eiffel also assisted Regnauld with the design of the Observatoire Sainte-Cécile, and some of the ideas used in Arcachon undoubtedly inspired - whether directly or indirectly - the design of Eiffel’s later creations, that include a 324-metre-high tower in Paris which is documented elsewhere on the internet.
Once you get to the top of the tower, the observation deck of which sits at a height of 25 metres above the ground, your vantage point is some 74 metres above sea level! For many years, it must have been tempting to climb a little further: the tower sported its own boat-like crow’s nest and mast!
|Looking westwards towards Église Notre-Dame and Cap Ferret.|
|The view over the rooftops of Arcachon's Ville d'Été district.|
|You can also make out the unmistakeable landmarks of Arcachon Bay, the "Cabanes Tchanquées" (literally, huts on stilts) by the Île aux Oiseaux.|
The Observatoire Sainte-Cécile was restored in 1990, as was the neighbouring footbridge: Passerelle Saint-Paul. This second metallic structure, completed shortly before the tower, was also the work of Paul Regnauld and his acolyte Gustave Eiffel.