My journey to Arcachon started at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport from where it took the Jetbus to the train station Bordeaux St. Jean. The bus leaves the airport every 45 minutes and the journey into town takes from 30-60 minutes depending on the traffic situation. The single trip costs 7 EUR.
At Bordeaux-St. Jean I jumped on one of the many trains to Arcachon. The journey takes about 50 minutes and a single trip is 9,60 EUR (11,60 EUR for the TGV). Buy your ticket and validate it before getting on the train, otherwise you'll pay an addional 10 EUR.
Ok, there's cheaper possibility than that I found out on my last visit:
Take bus No.49 to Mérignac (stop Lycées de Mérignac), change to bus No. 35, 35 express or 81 for Pessac train station (stop Pessac Centre). This trip will cost you 1,40 EUR. From Pessac take the train to Arcachon for 8,70 EUR. During weekdays this option will probably be shorter aswell, be careful on weekends though. On Saturdays buses between Mérignac and Pessac only go once per hour; on Sundays there's no bus at all!
There's another network of 5 bus lines connecting Arcachon and its neighbouring communities named baia. It was installed the week I stayed there and I was lucky to enjoy this service for free (now a ride will cost you 1 EUR).
Three lines depart from Arcachon train station the most important one for tourists (No. 1) goes to the Dune du Pilat. During the month of July and August this service continues to Plage de la Salie (surf beach).
The buses run from about 6am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday.
A little FREE electric bus serves 3 routes in Arcachon. They all start and finish at the train station and run from Monday to Saturday from around 7.30 am to 6pm.
Route A goes to Moulleau, Route B to Abatilles and Route C to Aiguillon. The routes are marked by blue lines on the streets and you just flag the bus down from anywhere.
Being a seaside town Arcachon certainly also offers a couple of boat connection across the bassin. Apart from different cruises with dinner and/or wine tasting there are regular ferry connections to Cap Ferret, Andernos and Le Canon. Most tours and ferries just operate during the summer months, other connections are less frequent in off-season.
Less than an hour from Bordeaux by the N 250 : Highway A63, exit : Arcachon A660. 175 km from Bayonne, 299 km from Toulouse, 400 km from Nantes, 611 km from Lyon, 654 km from Paris, 890 km from Lille.
TGV Paris-Arcachon connections all year round in 3H45. Many daily departures from Bordeaux by Regional Train Express (T.E.R.).
Website : www.sncf.fr
International Airport Bordeaux-Merignac, 45 minutes from Arcachon. Villemarie airport (1500m run way) 10 km from Arcachon.
Website : www.bordeaux.aeroport.fr
I guess the only way to the dune is by private means, except there is any other group arrangements that am not aware of. However, most of the people that I saw on this occasssion came in their private cars.
By train, ferry, train, foot. We travelled from Bristol to Portsmouth by train and then got the FERRY from Portsmouth to Caen (return trip cost us about 50 pounds as foot passengers). Be aware that although the ferry stated it arrives in Caen, the small print actually states that the ship docks at Ouistreham, 15km north of Caen, which is a pain if you have to be in Caen by a certain time without a car. They do a bus service to Caen - check times before you go.
When in France we travelled by train. Before I left, I checked the internet for times of trains. this turned out to be a helpful and accurate guide (see website address below).
We took the train from Caen to Arcachon (18.50 euros, takes about 2 hrs)
Paris to Bordeaux (40.70 euros). This journey only took 3 hrs, covering a distance of 310 miles (500km) on the TGV. These trains need to be booked in advance.
Bordeaux to Arcachon (6.30 euros, takes about 50 mins)
If you don't have a car, stay in Arcachon rather than in a campsite near the dune. The town didn't look that far away on the map- a whole mornings hiking later (with heavy rucksacks) we soon realised our mistake! There are buses, but only run regularly during the peak season.
Hire a bike if you can. The cycle tracks are in superb condition and lots of them follow the coastline.
I think we did this trip the longest way possible - next time I would get a flight to the nearest airport.