The desert in Europe - La Grande Dune du Pilat

Where is the desert in Europe?

It is not the most common question that some would make you, but you can't completely dismiss the possibility that someone one day will ask you: where is the desert in Europe?

I guess you will just stare at him thinking that guy completely mad, but what if someone ask you:

Where is the desert in France?

You will probably answer; there is no desert in France!

And you are probably right, there is no desert, but there is one place that look a little bit like a desert.

Near Arcachon there is the highest dune in Europe and walking on this huge dune you will feel a bit in the desert too...

Where is the Dune of Pilat?

The Dune of Pilat is situated an hour away from the elegant town of Bordeaux, on the coast.

What is so special about the Dune du Pilat?
(from wikipedia)

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. Its height is currently 110 metres above sea level. The dune is a famous tourist destination with more than one million visitors per year.

The dune is considered a foredune, meaning a dune that runs parallel to a shoreline, behind the high tide line of a beach. The dune has been observed to move landward, slowly pushing the forest back to cover houses, roads and portions of the Atlantic Wall.

To back this evidence of coastal movement, maps from 1708 and 1786 both place areas with the name Pilat to the south and off-shore of the current dune's location. The area where the dune currently stands was referred to "Les Sabloneys" or the "New Sands" until the 1930s when it was renamed by real estate developers as the Dune of Pilat. Pilat originates from the Gascon word Pilhar, which refers to a heap or mound.

On 24 January 2009, a peak windspeed of 175 km/h (109 mph) was recorded during a storm at the dune, damaging the dune.

This post has been made thanks to the great help and support of Anne Sophie from Bordeaux.

What else should I visit in France?

Read our page Visit France for more 

posts and destinations.

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