Le Dune du Pilat: a record-breaking pile of sand in Southern France.

When we traveled to Northern Spain in April of 2022, we had to cross the whole of France to get there. It took us two full days of driving to reach the French southern districts, but it was all worth the dull road time, since we had planned a short lay-over near Biscarrosse. Our goal? To climb Europe’s highest dune: the Dune du Pilat. This coastal colossus stretches out along the coast just south of the Bay of Arcachon, and goes on for about 2.7 km. The top of this sand hill towers a whopping 105 m above sea level. And as we learned first hand, 105 m is quite a climb!

The dune is obviously a popular tourist attraction and so finding a parking spot wasn’t really a problem. We just parked by the side of the road (D218) and followed one of the many hiking trails to the southern tip of the dune, close to a paraglider school. The way up was quite steep and difficult with the loose sand. But the higher we came, the more spectacular the views got. The coastal pine forests on the one side, the ocean on the other side. But the most beautiful feature was the dune itself, of course. The colourful paragliders in the air were definitely an added value.

There was quite some wind, but that just added to the fun. It took us about an hour to reach the top (although we didn’t really rush things), from where we could see just how huge this massive phenomenon of nature really is. We felt tiny. The top of the dune is the perfect spot for some quiet contemplation, especially because we were almost alone there. I can imagine it can be different during the summer months.

We had hired a camper van, and our initial plan was to find a parking spot near one of the water basins around Biscarrosse. Annick had brought her stand-up paddle board and wanted to use it on one of these lakes. However, since it was still April, all campings or camper spots seemed to be closed, so we couldn’t stay there. Therefore, we headed back to the coast and found one of the nicest camper spots we would come across on the whole trip. This place under the pine trees is located at 681 Rue du Tit, 40600 Biscarrosse (I doesn’t seem to have a name) and was quite cheap: only 8.50 euro for a day.

We enjoyed our time under the canopy, played some kubb and badminton, and also headed to the nearby beach for a few hours strolling along the shoreline. We liked it here so much that 2 weeks later, at the end of our trip, we decided to spend another day here…

If you decide to travel around in southern France, the Dune du Pilat, in combination with 1 or 2 days at this camp spot, is definitely worth a small detour!

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