Learn About Visiting the Dune of Pyla in France


This enormous dune, which stretches from the mouth of the Bassin d’Arcachon southward for 2.7km, is sometimes referred to as the Dune de Pyla because it is located 8 kilometers south of Arcachon, 4 kilometers from the small seaside resort town of Pyla-sur-Mer. The dune, which is already the biggest in Europe, is expanding eastward by 1.5 meters per year. According to local lore, it has swallowed trees, a road junction, and even a hotel. Approximately 115 meters above sea level, the top offers a stunning view.

The dune is 60,000,000 m3 in volume, 500 m wide from east to west, 2.7 km long from north to south, and 1.35 km2 in size. As of 2018, its height was 106.60 m above sea level.

The dune is regarded as a foredune, which is a dune that follows a shoreline behind a beach’s high tide line. It has been noted that as the dune moves landward, the forest slowly retreats to cover buildings, roads, and some of the Atlantic Wall. Maps from 1708 and 1786 both place regions with the name Pilat to the south and off-shore of the current dune’s location, supporting this evidence of coastal movement. Until the 1930s, the location of the dune was known as Les Sabloneys, or The New Sands, before being renamed the Dune of Pilat by real estate developer Daniel Meller. The word Pilat derives from Pilhar, a Gascon word for a heap or mound.

To assist visitors in climbing to the dune’s sandy summit, a wooden staircase with between 150 and 160 steps is built on one side of the dune between Easter and early to mid-November. Otherwise, struggle up the treacherous sand mountain and, if you dare, fly down at a thrilling sprint to channel your inner child. You can also read tips for avoiding sun tanning while traveling. Although the sand can be bone-chillingly cold in the winter and as hot as a fire in the middle of summer, going barefoot is preferable.

The Dune of Pilat on January 24, 2009, a storm with a peak wind speed of 175 km/h (109 mph) caused damage to the dune.


The extraordinary formation known as the Dune du Pilat originated in an area of the world that was already well-known for its abundant natural beauty. This is because it originated in a region of the European continent. Europe is no different from other continents in having its wonders. But in the western part of the continent, in the lovely nation of France, this particular feature developed. Additionally, it can be found in the commune of La Teste-de-Buch. This is located in the Arachon Bay area, about 37.3 miles (60 kilometers) from Bordeaux.

The length of time it took the dune to grow to its present size is currently unknown to scientists. But according to research, it only started to form about 4,000 years ago. Therefore, it is a young structure geologically speaking. The strong, prevailing Atlantic winds played a role in the formation of the intriguing site. These deposited sand on the landward side after eroding it from the seaward side. This further has the effect of causing the dune to move inland inexorably over time.

The leading edge of the nearby, reasonably dense pine forest was gradually but steadily buried by this action. That behavior is still present today. Even maps of the area had to be redone several times in the process starting in the year 1708 and continuing through the present. The Dune du Pilat also hosted several protohistoric camps in the distant past. Evidence suggests that these were related to sea salt mining. It’s also conceivable that activities related to these initiatives accelerated the development of the breathtaking site even more.

Physical Characteristics of Dune du Pilat

The most striking feature of the breathtaking Dune du Pilat, as is readily and evident, is the formation’s sheer size. It does indeed have some top-notch measurements. But they only serve to highlight its grandeur and beauty. However, it is important to note and keep in mind that the formation’s dimensions frequently change as a result of its very nature. Fortunately, these changes usually only involve minor modifications for those of us who value its natural beauty.

Typically, its overall measurements don’t change all that much over time. The amazing dune stretches for approximately 1.67 miles along the coastline (2.7 km). However, its average width from east to west is an impressive 1,640 feet (500 m). These already incredible dimensions give it an astounding total average volume when combined with its average depth. There are roughly 2,118,880,003 cubic feet (60,000,000 cubic meters) in the formation’s total volume on average.

Another striking measurement can be found in the Dune du Pilat’s mind-blowing beauty. That’s because it reaches an equally impressive height. This is due to the formation reaching a height of approximately 349.7 feet at its highest point (106.6 m).

Facts about Dune du Pilat

The Dune du Pilat is the name given to this amazing creation of nature most frequently in the language of the area where it first appeared. It also goes by the slightly different but very similar name of Grande Dune du Pilat in that same language. However, the English name for the remarkable feature is still very similar, with just a tiny variation. That is a result of the two languages’ similar grammatical structures. Therefore, the Dune of Pilat is listed as the name of the feature in that language.

Whatever name is given to it, it is a fascinating byproduct of natural processes and time. Naturally, it has also long piqued the interest of the local population in the area. Its exact date of discovery is still a mystery to the locals. But according to archaeological data, people used and visited the location at least as far back as the Bronze Age. That’s because artifacts from about 800 BC have been found in the sands near the dune’s approximate base. In addition, you can also read tips for solo traveling here.

Beautiful Dune du Pilat is now a very well-liked tourist destination in the area. More specifically, the incredible site receives an average of more than 1 million visitors annually. It now ranks among the most popular in the nation it was founded. But it makes sense that this popularity would put the formation’s stability in jeopardy. Fortunately, the local government took action to at least give it some level of protection. The formation was formally designated as a protected area in 1994.


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