Smelling the Ocean Breeze at Dune du Pilat

Posted on 05. May, 2012 by in Europe Travel

If there is one thing I can’t resist in life (well, except chocolate, kittens, Swedish men and The Strokes… you know), it’s the ocean call. Whenever I find myself remotely close to it, forces beyond my control set in motion and draw me to it, and I honestly have very little willpower. Even though I had just driven 4 hours to get to Bordeaux, I knew the extra hour drive to the coast would be absolutely worth it.

© Wikicommons

Since late April is a bit too cold for a dip, I decided to stay clear from the sandy beaches and instead go up one of the quirkiest and unique sights in Europe: the Dune du Pilat.

It’s a natural sand dune, and a pretty big one at that: 110 meters high, 500 meters wide and 3 kilometers long (thank you Wikipedia), making it Europe’s largest one of its kind. Impressive, much? Absolutely. What’s even more impressive is the view from the top.

On one side you have the luxuriant green forests of Gascogne National Park, on the other, the Atlantic Ocean, and on the far right, the Bay of Arcachon. Three completely different landscapes at only a few kilometers away from another.

The Bay of Arcachon in the background

It took me a while to 1, find a way to keep my hair away from my face  - it gets VERY windy up there, and 2, get over the freakin’ amazing views. I had expected something pretty, but not that pretty, or that breathtaking (quite literally - walking uphill in the sand against the wind is a very good cardio exercise, believe me).

And once I got over my emotions and my heartbeat went back to its normal 60, I did what I always do whenever I’m at the ocean: I close my eyes and breathe. I may not have very good reflexes or balance, but damn it I got a good nose. And since smell is sense that triggers the most memories, I indulged.

After a while though, I started to get a bit sleepy (not to mention covered in sand). Am I the only one whose face gets tired after a while outside? Anyway. Although I was a bit sad to drive back to the city, my afternoon out at Dune du Pilat was incredible, and I’m really glad I decided to make the extra stretch. Travel is not just about itineraries, right?

Have you been to the Dune du Pilat? Or have you seen anything like it in other places?

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19 Responses to “Smelling the Ocean Breeze at Dune du Pilat”

  1. Priscilla Pilon

    05. May, 2012

    I grew up by the ocean and it’s never left me; the smells, the sounds and the peace. I summer in Newport, RI for that reason. At night, hearing the waves crashing on the rocks is my raison d’etre! Thanks for this!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      You’re welcome - I also love the ocean even though I grew up in Montreal!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Laurence

    05. May, 2012

    Wait.. I don’t live to far from this! Must visit soon :D

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      You should! It’s SO beautiful, you can see all the Bay from up there!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Katherina

    07. May, 2012

    This makes me miss the beach a lot. Lovely pictures!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Kind of missing beaches and oceans right now.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Alexa Meisler

    07. May, 2012

    Beautiful. I wish I lived by the ocean.

    Reply to this comment
  6. dunedupilat.com

    08. May, 2012

    Hi, you are absolutely right, the views from the top of the dune are amazing. It’s a wonderful place where I love to be.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      I really loved it - definitely the highlight of my Aquitaine trip!

      Reply to this comment
  7. Sandra

    09. May, 2012

    I didn’t know you had a thing for Swedish men! I think you do have to visit Stockholm this summer!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      The minute I learned of the existence of Alexander Skarsgard, I have developed a thing for Swedish men :-)

      Reply to this comment
  8. Lucy

    14. May, 2012

    Wow, your photography is really, really beautiful. The blues are so vivid - what camera are you using?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      14. May, 2012

      Thank you Lucy! I use a Canon DSLR Rebel T3i, and I love to play around with contrast and boost the colors during post-editing. If you don’t want to buy Photoshop, the latest version of Picasa has great tools.

      Reply to this comment
  9. TOni

    17. May, 2012

    Must visit soon this place. I like it!

    Reply to this comment
  10. We live min 6 hrs from the beach. It’s a good thing our traveling affords us the opportunity to go the ocean, otherwise we’d be in major withdrawal. Love the photo of laying in the sand.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      22. Jun, 2012

      I love me a good ocean getaway. Something about it is so smoothing!

      Reply to this comment

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