Posted on 09 April 2010 by Dan Johnson
I often see Dune du Pyla (or Pilat, as it is sometimes spelt), written about as some kind of natural monster, gobbling up towns and roads as it slowly lumbers onwards.
On the siblu website we say it is “immense, with a life of its own in a scary Triffid-type way”, and Nigel Thompson, travel editor of the Daily Mirror, called it “Incredible. A heap of sand 350ft high, half a mile wide and almost two miles long.”
Pyla is a giant sand dune, the biggest in Europe, on the coast of Aquitaine and just below the beautiful Arcachon Basin (home to the best Oysters in Europe, another great reason to visit).
Despite its size Dune du Pyla is, essentially, a mountain of sand, so is it really worth the visit?
Yep. Especially if you have kids. And especially if they are the runny jumpy kind.
The climb - whether you take the 190 steps laid up the side of the dune or forego the man-made support and tackle the bank of sand instead – is a daunting one that doesn’t promise much in the way of reward.
But as you reach the top, stunning views are instantly revealed. Ahead is a golden beach that slopes into the deep-blue Atlantic Ocean and behind is another ocean, of pine trees that stretch to the horizon.
Look along the ridge of Pyla and you will see silhouettes of people intent on tackling the dune still further, or children charging head first down the steep slopes, sinking into the sand as they moon-walk to the bottom.
It’s a wonderful feeling and an hour exploring gives you a great excuse to tuck into an ice cream or beer at one of the many café’s at the foot of Pyla.