The Dune of Pilat in France: the highest dunes in Europe

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Valery Aloyants
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SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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The only images that will give you an overview of the dunes of Pilat are those made with the drone, through which you can see the very long strip of sand that, little by little, year after year, “erases” part of the wood behind it. Undaunted advances at a speed between 1 and 5 meters per year.

Just by climbing the Pilat Dunes from the visitor center, you will notice that the plants closest to the dune are half covered in sand.


The panorama from the top of the dune of Pilat

What are the Dunes of Pilat?

According to experts, the dunes of Pilat are a huge expanse / agglomeration of 60 million cubic meters of sand (pilàt in fact means “heap”) and were formed following the “breaking” of a huge sandy bank located a short distance from the coast. Over time, wind and tides helped carry the sand ashore creating the current huge dunes. Suffice it to say that in 1885 the size of the Dunes of Pilat was 35 meters.

The current situation is quite different. Now the highest dune in Europe measures just under 3 km, with a width of around 500 meters and a maximum height that varies between 100 and 120 meters depending on the wind.

On the dune of Pilat

Where are the dunes of Pilat located?

The dunes are located at the entrance to the great Arcachon basin and represent theperfect excursion from Bordeaux.

You might be interested in this article of mine -> What to see in Bordeaux

I got there by car and this is the solution that I recommend because this area of ​​Aquitaine is also famous for the territories around Bordeaux. If your aim is to spend a few days in this beautiful area of ​​France, I can only advise you to rent a car and discover the area.



You might be interested in -> How to rent a car

I read that there is also a shuttle service from Arcachon station to the Dunes of Pilat, certainly a valid option, but using a car also allows you to be disconnected from timetables. When you are faced with views of this type it is always difficult to "have" to leave. Maybe, if you go there in spring / summer, you will want to enjoy a beautiful sunset from the dune… being autonomous is always the best solution.

The Dunes of Pilat are away about 65 km from Bordeaux, or 50 minutes by car.


There is paid parking near the dunes.

How to visit and what to do on the dune du Pilat?

The simple result of natural beauty is to leave people speechless. The dunes have precisely this purpose. You arrive just below the slope that leads to the top and you wonder how such a place could exist. During the climb you realize less and less. You are above meters and meters of sand that have entirely incorporated a piece of wood. You turn left and right and see the steep sand almost overlooking the plants, as well as dozens of other people who, together with you, climb the sand dune with the aim of reaching the top and getting lost in the ocean horizon.

Glimpses towards the ocean

Climbing the dunes of Pilat is not very easy, so a staircase of 160 steps has been prepared to help those people who prefer support. The ladder is installed for the period between April and November.

The climb to the dune

Once you reach the top of the dunes of Pilat, you will have no other alternative but to enjoy the view or lie down in sunbathe while waiting for the sunset. The area is also renowned for being a great spot for paragliding. If you are a lover of that sport, find out because I think it's worth it.

Outline information for visiting the dunes of Pilat

For all information about parking, how to get there by public transport, services in the area, etc, I recommend visit the official website which is full of valuable advice.

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