Luckily for the Frenchies, we have a hoard of cousins across France and am eternally grateful for this amazing extended family that I have. Had it not been for a large French family this trip across France would not have been the same... We kind of invited ourselves to go visit my cousin living in warm and sunny Bordeaux. We used our stay in Bordeaux to visit the city but also the gorgeous Atlantic coast, Saint Emilion and of course a day trip to the famous Dune du Pyla.
The Great Dune du Pyla is located near the Arcachon basin approximately 60km out of Bordeaux. The dune makes for a great family day trip, where the kids are free to run, climb and slide to their heart's content. The region of Bordeaux is better known for its famous wines and not for having the highest sand dune in Europe. The dune would be more appropriately located in Africa rather than the atlantic coast of France.
The dune is absolutely divine wedged between the dark green forest of pine trees and the crisp blue of the atlantic ocean. The ever-growing dune is slowly engulfing the few houses that are located nearby as well as the forest that was ironically planted to prevent further erosion. However it seems nothing can hold the back the forces of nature. The Dune du Pyla (also known as Pilat) is approximately 3km long, 500m wide and ranges from a height of 100 - 107 metres above sea level. It seems that it is the most visited site t in France after the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, so if you are going in summer expect crowds.
We set out to visit the Dune to in the afternoon in order to catch the sun set. From the car park cross a row of fast food eateries and souvenirs shops, (which made me wonder what we were heading into...seemed a little too touristy for my liking) however if you can ignore those and make your way straight to the 'climb' it is worth the effort. The hike to the top is steep and is not for the faint hearted, take your time to view the scenery as you race the kids up to the top, needless to say I was the last to make reach it. Yup the Frenchie kids are real little mountain goats!
We spent plenty of time just playing up and down the dune, the kids even ventured to the shoreline for a play in the ocean. We packed a picnic basket and just sat back and enjoyed our leisurely afternoon.
Access is reasonably quick from Bordeaux - there is plenty of paid parking to access the dune (however expect delays if you are visiting in peak summer months)
Caution: please take care with your camera as the fine sand can damage your camera, have an airtight bag to store your camera in, when not in use. It is windy at the top so ensure you have appropriate clothing.
You will also need sunscreen hats and comfortable shoes, plenty of water. And if you happen to have a boogie board well worth taking it to slide down the dune.