Dune du Pilat Beach (Pyla)
Creating an impressive contrast to the surrounding Atlantic pine forests, Dune de Pilat is named after the largest sand dune in Europe. Located immediately behind the beach, around 40 miles south of Bordeaux, it forms an integral part of Arcachon Bay at La Teste-de-Buch. It is of such importance that the dune has been declared one of France’s natural monuments.
Measuring more than 1.5 miles (2.7 km) in length, the dune has a width of a third of a mile (500 m), and a maximum height of over 300 feet (100 m). Not only does it move up to 5 metres every year, but it’s also estimated to contain an incredible sixty million cubic metres of fine sand.
Rising above the trees, the dune has become a popular launching point for paragliders, who are then able to take in the full magnificence of this natural spectacle. Reaching its top is relatively easy, thanks to a roped stairway which is open to the public throughout the summer. From the summit, the view stretches as far as Cap Ferrat.
Evenings are often thought to be the best time to visit, for the double whammy of the sunset and the potential to witness bottlenose dolphins playing in the waves. If you save your trip until then, we’d recommend a good torch for getting back down after dark!
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