Dune du Pilat is at its best between dawn and twilight when the weather cools; the sun casts patterns on the sand with its shadows and the temperature drops. A picnic at the summit while the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the best ways to end the day.
Dune du Pilat is a lovely spot to visit in its entirety. Views extend from the summit to Arcachon Bay, over to the Cap Ferret isthmus, over shimmering sandbanks, and along the entire coastline. Ascending along the spine of the dune, summit treks take you high above the pine forest on one side and the ocean on the other, before descending to stunning beaches just right for a post-walk path.
The history of Dune du Pilat
The renowned white lady’s dimensions of 2.7 kilometers in length and 106 meters in height are impressive. The Dune has a history of thousands of years and is composed of 60 million cubic meters of sand. Recent excavations have revealed that humans were present here 2,600 years ago.
The view of the Dune du Pilat
Dune du Pilat, one of the outstanding natural vantage sites in the region, rises to a height of more than 100 meters on the coast south of Arcachon. Portable stairs are set up from April to November to make the ascent from the parking lot simple for most individuals.
With your feet firmly planted in the softest sand, take in the panoramic view as you reach the top. Views extend up to Arcachon Bay, across the Atlantic Ocean, across a pine forest at the base of the dune, and over the slender isthmus of Cap Ferret.
Any time of day is lovely, but dawn is the best time to take pictures. The sun rises over the pine forest with the ocean to its east, and as the morning goes on, its shadow progressively descends the dune. You will be able to take photographs of the dunes in perfect condition with glorious early morning light since the dunes have been cleared of any footprints by the overnight winds.
The sand shimmers in the twilight as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean at sunset. In ideal circumstances, a burned orange glow unites the sky and dunes. Sunset is a terrific time to take pictures of individuals forming a silhouette against a stunning sunset because it is much busy in the evenings.
Find a space in the sand, pack a picnic, and join the other spectators in taking it all in. Later in this book, we offer ideas for putting together a delicious picnic from some artisanal vendors in Arcachon.
Dune du Pilat from Above
The dune is best viewed from above when the size of this natural theater is clearly visible.
- From the southern end of the dune, Pyla Parapente offers tandem paragliding jumps that let you softly float on the thermals between the ground and the sky. Select between a smooth flight and one that tries a few maneuvers, or go for the more difficult option.
- The alternative is to fly above the dunes in a helicopter or on a scenic flight. Customized flights in a tiny plane over the dunes, Arcachon Bay, and Cap Ferret can be arranged through Aéroclub du Bassin d’Arcachon for 30 minutes.
- Helipass offers expensive but amazing 30-minute helicopter rides of the dunes.
Best time to visit the amazing Dune du Pilat
Although the dune is lovely, it may also be hostile. There is no shade, and the heat during the summer can be oppressive. Come on cooler days, early in the morning or late in the day when the sun is setting. Particularly wonderful and ideal for photography is the light at dawn and dusk on a clear (or even cloudy) day.
Additionally, we advise you to steer clear of windy days. The wind can be fierce, blasting sand into your eyes and, worse still, your camera lens because the dune is unprotected and near to the sea.
Hotels near the Dune de Pilat
There are several excellent hotel choices in the area of Dune du Pilat. If you plan to travel via public transportation, Arcachon is a perfect place to start. Here are some ideas we have. Please bear in mind that Arcachon can be an active region of France during the height of the summer, so if you intend to visit in July or August, make your reservations well in advance. The name of some close hotels are as follow:
- T BOUTIQUE HOTEL
- HÔTEL VILLE D’HIVER
- HÔTEL LA CO(O)RNICHE
- LA GUITOUNE
Access of the Dune du Pilat
The parking lot at its base on the wooded side provides access to the Pilat Dune. You can park in front of a series of modest stores and cafés, fuel up with delectable ice cream, and then ascend using the short set of movable stairs that are available from April to November.
The stairs from the Corniche close to the cross-honoring sailors who have died at sea can also be used to enter from Avenue Louis-Gaume. At the base of the Dune, descend the stairs, and you will be standing immediately on the beach.
There are viewing platforms and informational boards on the stairs that identify the species that can be found here and describe the local flora and wildlife.
Where is Dune du Pilat
The Dune of Pilat is situated in the commune of Pyla-sur-Mer, which is officially reliant on the town of La Teste-de-Buch, close to Arcachon, in the center of the Landes de Gascogne, at the basin of Arcachon’s southern entrance.
Some useful tips about Dune du Pilat
- If you take a picnic up to the top of the dunes, be prepared to carry all your trash back down with you because there are no facilities there.
- The best footwear to wear is flip flops or shoes you can easily kick off so you can wander around barefoot. 2
- There are restrooms and a tiny information booth with maps in the parking lot. The visitor center is currently being upgraded.
- Dogs are permitted on the dunes, but they must always be leashed.