A few days ago while perusing the Flickr Blog, I came across some stunning photos of a place that I recognized instantly: La Dune du Pyla – Europe’s largest sand dune. I had a chance to visit last February, a rare winter day with springtime temperatures – I’ll give all the credit to Rosie and her expert planning. Early one Sunday morning, we boarded a train to Bordeaux, we did NOT stop to smell the canelés, and we took a second brief train trip to Arcachon on the Atlantic coast. After several landlocked months in the Dordogne, the ocean air was a refreshing change. We lingered just long enough at the Jetée Thiers to get perfectly-windswept beach hair (ou pas) and strike a surfing pose, then we continued on to our main attraction. In typical French fashion, Sunday bus service was nonexistent, so we waited our turn for what seemed to be the only taxi that serves the Bassin d’Arcachon.
After being dumped out onto the Route de Biscarrosse, our excitement only grew as we walked closer and closer to the dune. But first, photographic instruction from Rosie: “Pretend to be apathetic teenagers!”
Then we gleefully scurried up the dune! Usually there is a staircase poking out of the dune, however, winds had all but completely covered them for our visit. Up and up, some stairs would really have been nice as La Grande Dune stands about 110 meters tall. To the east, a dense, dry forest. To the west? We still had some climbing to do first…
Once you start seeing mirages and messages in the sand, you know you must be close to the top. And what a view to be had! Deep, blue Atlantic spreading our before us for as far as the eye could see.
Click here for a panorama of the dune!
Time for a break! A gâteau basque filled with almond paste and un bon cidre on the sand.
With our bodies re-energized and our heads a bit hazy from the sun and the cidre, what came next was natural: running as fast as we could, jumping as high as we could, and landing as hard as we could. All caught on camera. What fun these Périgordingues had!
Such fun, we didn’t even want to leave. Not to mention, the walk down the dune was difficult in its own right – when the ground is falling out from under you, you may find yourself falling down a lot. Mais ce qui est important, c’est d’esquisser toujours un sourire charmant!
No sandy buns here! My shoes, on the other hand were so stuffed full of sand, my foot popped out of them a couple of times during the descent. After what felt like minutes of pouring, my shoes had emptied, we took the same cab back to Arcachon, and we hesitantly started the trip back home.