The Great Dune of Pyla, more correctly known as the Dune of Pilat, is the tallest sand formation in Europe. At 105 m (~344 ft) high, 2,700 m (~8,858 ft) in length, 500 m (~1,640 ft) in width, and with 20,000,000 m3 of sand, it is in constant motion, creeping about 4 m (~13 ft) eastward a year.
The climate is moderate, so no special precautions are necessary for the traveler, just sunscreen for any especially hot days and a sweater for the cold ones, along with a swimsuit for a jump in the ocean from the adjacent beach.
It’s estimated there are over one million visitors per annum.
The dune is a favourite of photographers, who come at all times of the day and night to capture the dune in different lights. At night, the ambience is uniquely warm and the ripples of this huge natural structure look especially dramatic.
Visitors who climb to the top find a spectacular view, taking in the ocean coast, the inlet of the bay, the nearby pine forests; and if they are lucky and the day is clear, the Pyrenees Mountain range. More adventurous travellers bring their snowboards and sand-surf down the sides!
The dune is located in the La Teste-de-Buch of the Arcachon Bay area in France, about 60 km (~37 mi) from Bordeaux. It’s well signposted and easy to reach from the town of Arcachon. Campsites and hotels are abundant in the area, making it easy to stay nearby.