France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Dune du Pilat, Arcachon, France
Who knew that France was home to the largest sand dune in Europe?





The Dune du Pilat (also called the Dune du Pyla) is the largest sand dune in Europe. Located just south of Arcachon, the dune attracts visitors year round.

About 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) long, the Dune du Pilat keeps growing, moving to the east and taking over nearby trees and land. You approach it from the land, walking through a pine forest and wondering if there really could be a sand dune nearby. Then you emerge from the woods and voila!

You can climb to the top (using a staircase in summer, on your own in the winter). The climb is slow, since you're trudging up sand. Once on top, you enjoy lovely views of the Bassin d'Arcachon and the town of Arcachon in the distance. Because the dune is so large, once atop it you can continue to climb from peak to peak and get different views.

Coming down most people opt to walk, but some kids enjoy sliding or running down the steep slope.


Looking across the top of the Dune du Pilat, France
Looking across the top of the Dune du Pilat (Pyla).


In season there is a charge for parking—a minimal charge for a quick look, but more substantial if you take the time to climb. You can also take a bus from Arcachon and avoid the crowded parking lot. A variety of restaurants and souvenir shops line the walkway to the dune.

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Climbing the Dune du Pilat, Arcachon, France

Above, Climbing the Dune du Pilat (Pyla), near Arcachon, France.


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