Climbing a Massive Sand Dune in Europe

Climbing a sand dune has always been on my bucket list.  Going to Morocco was the closest I’ve ever come to the desert, but sadly during the trip I didn’t have time to go.  So when I find out that there was a huge sand dune right in the middle of Europe, I knew that I had to check it out.

This sand dune is called the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, currently sitting at 110 meters above sea level and with a volume of 60,000,000 m3.  Technically, it wasn’t too far from where we were staying at Cap Ferret, and we could actually have taken a short passenger ferry ride over there.  However, there were other places that we wanted to explore in the area, so we decided to take the car.  By car, it took a LOT longer.  (For you Bay Area peeps, it’s like driving from Sausalito to San Francisco on country roads without the use of bridges.)  It was slow going, however this sunflower field that we caught along the way made the journey worth it.

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An hour and a half later, we finally made it to the Dune du Pilat.  We started on a short hiking trail that led to the base of the sand dune.  There are two ways up: one way by the built-in staircase and another just by climbing up the dune itself.  It looked like it would be more fun trying it without the stairs, but midway up, I was regretting that decision.  Sand is not an easy surface to walk nor climb on.  And after two weeks of sitting at SKE, I was definitely out of shape!

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The way up the Dune du Pilat

_DSC0532-4As you can see, the Dune du Pilat has a dense forest on one side and beautiful blue waters on the other.  Once we got to the top, we decided to continue our walk along the top of the dune.  Once again, definitely not as easy as it looks.  Not to mention that the sun reflecting off the dune made the heat brutal.

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The Return of Boo!

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Mom and Dad taking a sand dune selfie

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And with that, the sand dune was officially checked off my bucket list.  We were starving by this time, so we were ready for lunch.  Thankfully, there was a nearby restaurant that a friend had recommended.  They are well-known for having a nice plateau de fruits de mer (a platter of raw and cooked shellfish) at a relatively reasonable price.  It was a great reward for a grueling morning.

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It may look scary, but it was delicious!

After being stuffed full of seafood (yet again), we decided to walk around the town of Arcachon.  Arcachon is definitely more developed than the Cap Ferret area, with flashier resorts, homes and hotels.  Although it was fun to do a little shopping there, I started to miss the calm of the Cap Ferret area.

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The crowded beaches of Arcachon

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Beautiful hydrangea in the town center

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The Mairie (Mayor’s Office) of Arcachon

All in all, the Cap Ferret / Arcachon area is a beautiful area worthy of exploring.  Great seafood and great sights… what more can one ask for?

 


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