Arès is a quiet resort towards the northern tip of the triangle formed by the Bassin d’Arcachon which, for nearly 40 years, has maintained a designated waterfront landing pad for unidentified flying objects.
The story began on August 15th 1976 when the so-called “ovniport” (OVNI: objet volant non-identifié) was officially inaugurated as one of the highlights of that year’s oyster festival. The idea, which at the time got extensive coverage in the media (most notably the United States), had originally been dreamt up by a group of locals led by one Bob Cotten, a Mérignac airport employee who, as well as being a renowned expert in electronics, was a UFO enthusiast who claimed to be disgruntled by the lack of landing facilities for alien spacecraft.
This may go some way to explaining why, in 1976, the town’s mayor was so keen to back a plan - however light-hearted and eccentric - which would show Arès in a new, media-friendly and tourist-friendly light. Almost 40 years have passed and we are still talking about his and Robert Cotton’s ovniport endeavour (a world first that reportedly has so far only been reproduced in Brazil and Puerto Rico) and the alien-themed postcards continue to sell well. Now, all that is really missing is a genuine UFO to come and make use of the landing pad!
- Find it: Avenue le Goéland, Arès.