Dune of Pylat
Located in the Landes of Gascony, at the entrance to the famous Arcachon Bay, and facing the tip of Cap Ferret in the department of Gironde, the Dune of Pilat (or Pyla) is the highest dune in Europe. And all around it, the charm of France's south-west and the Atlantic Ocean unveils itself, an influence that also reveals itself in the cuisine and thus on your plate!
Visited every year by more than one million people, this itinerant sandy formation by the sea, listed as a “grand national site” in 1978, offers an exceptional panorama of the Ocean, Arcachon Bay, the trenches, Cap Ferret, the islands, the Banc d’Arguin Nature Reserve and the beautiful forest of the coastline from its summit.
A unique spot with extraordinary dimensions The Dune of Pilat (from the Gascon “pilhar” meaning heap or mound) is a relatively recent formation, even though the name “Pilat” had already appeared on the maps of Claude Masse (1708) and César François Cassini de Thury (1786). In 1855, its
height reached 35 metres.
Today, the dune has taken on some exceptional dimensions: 1.7 miles from north to south and 500 metres from west to east. It comprises 60 million cubed metres of sand deposited by the wind; its altitude varies from 100 to 117 metres above sea level; and its slope is steeper on the inland side than on the coastal side (the Atlantic Ocean). Every year, it advances one to five metres inland, invading constructions (houses, roads), devouring several cement fortifications built during the construction of the Atlantic Wall, during the Second World War, and is progressively burying the pine forest.
In proximity to Arcachon and the Landes
A remarkable geomorphologic phenomenon, the Dune of Pilat rises above Arcachon Bay. This great lagoon lined with oyster parks is home to the town of the same name, a reputed seaside resort.
The restaurants in the area are often remarkable and benefit from the multiple influences of the ocean; oysters, fish and seafood from Arcachon Bay, and cuisine from the south-west (foie gras, duck confit and breast, mushrooms, etc.), which is particularly refined in the Landes region! You will find all of the flavours and wines of Aquitaine, to Bordeaux to Basque country, served at your table.
The Banc d'Arguin Nature Reserve
Another important spot around Arcachon Bay, the Banc d'Arguin Nature Reserve is home to a large number of migratory birds, including the sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis).
Part of the commune of La Teste-de-Buch, the Dune of Pilat, threatened by the urbanisation of the coastline, benefits from a State protection policy. Currently, nearly 15,000 acres of dunes and surrounding forests are protected under the law of 2 May 1930.
An exceptional playground
Adults and children alike can climb the dune by trampling over the sand or reaching the top via 154 steps built for this purpose. The descent reserves some tremendous thrills for those who run down the slope full speed ahead or let themselves roll all the way down…