Postcard from the Great Dune of Pyla

by Kyla Partridge /
Kyla Partridge's picture
Apr 05, 2012 / 2 comments

Welcome to the tallest sand dune in all of Europe! If you are lucky enough to make it here during the off season, you will avoid the tourists as well as the stairs installed into the dune’s side for their convenience. Once you manage to climb your way to the top of this giant sand mountain, you’ll have doubts on whether you truly are on France’s west coast or were somehow transported to a vast African desert. This massive lot of sand, located 60 kilometers from the beautiful French city of Bordeaux, appears to stretch endlessly along the breathtaking coastline. In reality, the dune has a volume of over 60,000,000 m³ and continues growing larger each year, gradually pushing back the surrounding forest to cover nearby houses and roads.


Views are absolutely breathtaking from the top of the dune! On one side you observe the magnificent ocean. It is hard to miss with its crashing waves and salted scent. You will surely spot numerous large boats as this is a popular area for the catching of oysters, a well-known French delicacy. On all other sides you’ll see a large pine forest that seems to offer the great dunes a barrier from civilization. It’s difficult to believe that places like this exist in a country like France!


Great Dune of Pyla



When leaving the location, you have the option of descending on foot the way you came, or being a bit more creative. Personally, I can’t resist a little adventure, so on departing from the Dune of Pyla I threw myself onto the sandy ground and let gravity do the rest. It is remarkably amusing how quickly you will roll down the dune’s side and into the forested area below. A word of warning: try your best to avoid those hardworking folks who are attempting to get to the top. Afterwards, don’t be surprised to find sand in places you didn’t even know you had!




Kyla Partridge is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program





Comments (2)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    12 years 3 weeks ago

    The only thing harder than climbing a sand dune is rolling UP one. I think we need to go visit here - thank yoU! 


    Jessie Voigts, PhD


  • Jordan Oram

    12 years 2 weeks ago

    What an amazing place indeed! It's amazing how many things in motion around us often go unnoticed. What a place and view that must have been! I played on some dunes in Denmark and that must have been a hint of these giant behemoths you froliced about! 

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us :) 

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