When you think Bordeaux, you probably think wine. And you’d be right to do so, of course, but the coastal French area is more than just a delicious face. It’s also home to the Great Dune of Pyla, the tallest sand dune in Europe (yes, that’s a thing). It’s technically located about 40 miles from Bordeaux, near the Arcachon Bay, but still pulls about one million tourists from the wine region a year.
The dune, also known as the Great Dune of Pilat, is 550 yards wide, almost two miles long and rises to around 350 feet above sea level. This hasn’t always been the case, however; the dune is in a constant state of flux, slowing moving itself further inland.
Scientists believe it has doubled in size in the last 100 years. They also believe that its a cyclical process that dates back for centuries due to a coal-like substance found on the shore which hints to the remains of a forest floor. If you’re visiting and feeling particularly spry, you can climb the dune itself, though it requires a heady mix of stamina and ability to ignore sand in your shoes. For the less adventurous souls, there’s a steep staircase that climbs to the top of the dune. Additionally, it’s a popular place for kite flying, paragliders and other adventurers looking to have some fun in the sand. And once you arrive to the top – no matter which way you get there – the stunning views are more than enough of a reward. From there, you can see the Les Landes pine forest, the Pyrenees mountain range and the ocean coast. [sources: Amusing Planet, Daily Mail, Atlas Obscura]