Let’s discover the Arcachon basin and the Dune du Pilat

by Rita Eyremandi

Our two friends Elita and Jaja decide to visit the Arcachon basin.

Located in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne forest, in the Gironde department, the Arcachon basin is a small inland sea of 174 km² at high tide and 60 km² at low tide. The basin is open to the Bay of Biscay by a unique access located to the southwest at the level of the Banc d’Arguin.

After visiting the city of Arcachon with the magnificent 19th century villas of the winter district, the two girlfriends take the boat at the Thiers pier to take a cruise and discover the basin. The boat then goes around the bird island, a small wild paradise of 3 km². Among the 53 wooden huts of the bird island, two huts stand out, proudly standing above the sea.

Elita and Jaja photograph these two huts built on stilts, architectural wonders, emblematic of the Arcachon basin and called “Tchanquées huts” because in Gascon, the “Tchanquées” represent the stilts of shepherds.

Then, the boat passes near the oyster beds and arrives at the port of Cap-Ferret, a popular seaside resort. The boat continues further south and passes near the Banc d’Arguin, classified Nature Reserve, as well as the Dune du Pilat. Then the boat goes north to the city of Arcachon.

After landing, our two friends decide to visit the Dune du Pilat.

It is the highest dune in Europe: 103.6 meters high in 2023, located at the entrance of the Arcachon basin. It extends 2.9 km from north to south and 616 m from west to east and contains about 55 million cubic meters of sand. After being equipped with good walking shoes, Elita and Jaja undertake the sporting ascent of the dune.

About two million visitors reach its peak each year.

Arriving at the summit a little breathless, the girlfriends admire the superb view of the Arcachon basin and take a multitude of photos of this beautiful spectacle that is offered to them. Then they start the descent of the dune which fortunately is easier.

The movements of the dune are constant. On the east side, the dune wins on the adjoining forest massif, burying the trees at a speed of 1 to 5 meters per year.

Hungry and thirsty, Elita and Jaja collect their car parked in the parking lot and head to the panoramic and gastronomic restaurant «La Corniche» located in Pyla-sur-Mer.

The two girlfriends can finally enjoy a well-deserved rest while enjoying their cocktails in front of a magnificent sunset view over the Bassin d’Arcachon.

What a beautiful day!