Discovering the Tallest Dune in Europe

The tallest Dune in Europe? It’s in France, near Bordeaux and has been called "menacing sand wall". Learn more about Dune of Pilat!


dune du pilat

Do you ever wonder what is the tallest sand dune in Europe?
Well, we are going to answer you anyway!
It is called Dune of Pilat ( Dune du Pilat in French) and it's in France, facing the Atlantic Ocean, just 60 km away from Bordeaux.
Thanks to its record-scoring measures, Dune of Pilat has become a remarkable tourist attraction in the region. Let's discover it!

How tall is the tallest dune in Europe?

The Dune of Pilat's height is currently 110 meters above sea level.
And height is not the only extraordinary attribute. In fact, the dune has a volume of about 60,000,000 m³, measuring around 500 m wide from east to west and 2.7 km in length from north to south. It is a large sandhill emerging from an enormous pine forest, reaching the Atlantic Ocean. Even from Google Map you can easily identify it and see how Dune of Pilat change the whole panorama.
Technically, the Dune of Pilat is called a foredune, "a dune ridge that runs parallel to the shore of an ocean, lake, bay, or estuary." It looks like a wall of sand built to protect France from the sea.
Actually, it is sometimes referred to as a "menacing sand wall" or even called a "sand monster" eating up "parts of France". Over the decades, the scientists registered the dune moving landward, slowly pushing the forest back to cover houses, roads and even portions of the Atlantic Wall: the huge fortification Nazis built along the Atlantic coastline to fend off USA invasion (it did not work so well, though).

How to reach the Dune of Pilat and what to do there

The best way to reach Dune of Pilat is by car. Thanks to French great road network, the dune is easily accessible. But keep in mind: if you come here in high season you should be ready to traffic jams!
Anyway, the high season (beginning of April to mid-November) has its props, being the only period when the stairs are installed so that the ascent is comfortable and only takes a few minutes. 
Once there, we recommend you to take your time and stay at least 1 hour to explore the dune. You will also need time for walking from the car park to the foot of the dune (around 400 meters).
Many visitors just spend some time on the dune’s first "hill", near the car park or the stairs. It is true: from there you will enjoy the amazing 360° view. But it is even more exciting to walk along the dune ridge to catch its full extent and then descend down to the beach. Opting for this kind of tour, where you can also see with your own eyes the influence of the tides on the sandbank in front of the dunes, you should be prepared to spend some hours in this strange paradise.

Other things you should keep in mind are: bringing your camera with you (or your fully charged smartphone) to take some marvelous pictures and checking the weather a few days before the date because heavy rain can ruin the experience.
And, of course: do not litter! Be sure to collect every garbage. Pollution is a serious problem for every coast and every beach. For a natural wonder like this, it is even worse.