France // Exploring the massive Dune du Pilat

To say I love hanging around by the sea would be an understatement. And I have to admit that digging my feet in the sand is one of my favorite feelings in the world. Especially when the sand is really blistering hot and you can wiggle your toes down to a cooler layer.

So when I heard about this humongous pile of sand (60,000,000 m3 !!!) located on the French coastline close to Bordeaux I just had to go there! Playtime is in session!

This freakishly large dune is better known as Dune du Pilat. It’s about 500 m wide, 110 m high and stretches along 2,7 km of coastline. In other words… it is BIG! The biggest one of its kind in Europe in fact.

Dune du Pilat // FranceDune du Pilat // France

We visited the dune while on a road trip across France last year. Ahhhh la douce France, totally in love with this country! You almost can’t go wrong there when traveling. Even the tiniest and most desolate little villages have something to offer.

But as most people like to discover both the beautiful historical villages ánd the French wine, I’d recommend exploring Saint-Émilion. Though it’s a little touristy, it has the best of both worlds! For more information about this stunning town, just click here!

So wait, before you go scout for a bottle of wine in your kitchen, let me tell you a bit more about the Dune du Pilat :)

Located just 60 km from Bordeaux, it makes for an excellent daytrip when exploring the famous wine region. As it’s a pretty popular destination and parking isn’t endless, be sure to get there early and avoid the masses.

Dune du Pilat // FranceDune du Pilat // France

After a short hike through the best-smelling forest ever we arrived at the foot of the massive dune. There are two ways of climbing to the top:

  1. You wait in a long queue to go up the stairs in one big human snake formation.
  2. You suck it up and start hiking up any place you like (no stairs included).

We went for the second option. Not the easiest, but definitely the most fun!

Scorching sun and sand make it quite strenuous. And with every step you take, you seem to fall back a few centimeters again. But the views are stunning, so we didn’t mind the slow ascent one bit!

Dune du Pilat // France Dune du Pilat // France

Once we reached the top our minds were blown! Both from the SPECTACULAR views and the gusty winds.

The 360° panorama is absolutely incredible! You can see the dune stretching for miles and the tiny ant-like people exploring the place make it look even bigger.

The coastline down below is a mix of deep blue, crisscrossed with white sandbanks and boats of all sorts.

Dune du Pilat // France Dune du Pilat // France Dune du Pilat // France Dune du Pilat // France

We continued hiking further along the top of the dune, towards a spot popular with aerial acrobatics. I’m not talking about wildlife here, but people! – People hanging on parachutes and making the most of the winds swirling around the massive dune.

Apparently wind conditions are next to perfect at Dune du Pilat, drawing paragliding fanatics from all across the world to this very spot. The surroundings might have something to do with it too though :)

So if you’re up for it, local paragliding/parapente schools will be happy to have you up in the air in no time. Prices start at € 50 for about 10 minutes of spreading your wings and feeling like a bird :)

A glass of encouraging wine anyone?

Oui bien sûr! 

Dune du Pilat // FranceDune du Pilat // France