Last Updated on June 3, 2023

France is home to the tallest sand dune in Europe – the Dune du Pilat – so it’s no surprise it makes one of the best sandboarding destinations in the continent.

There are also many other sandboarding spots across the country, specially in the Côte d’Opale, many thanks to user brigadier who pointed them out in our forum.

Sandboarding at Dune du Pilat

Sandboarding in France: Dune du Pilat
Sandboarding at Dune du Pilat, France. Photo courtesy of Jack Soley.

The Dune of Pilat (also known as Pyla Dune) is the tallest dune in Europe, with a variable height that ranges between 100 and 120 metres due to its shifting sands.

The dune is a popular tourist destination located in the French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine that offers incredible panoramic views: one side facing the sea, the other facing a pine forest.

Climbing the dune is hassle-free thanks to the presence of stairs.


While the Dune du Pilat is often advertised as the European capital of sandboarding, there is some controversy regarding whether boarding sports are actually allowed at the site.

An unwritten rule is to only surf down the slope facing the beach, and not that facing the pine forest (as not to disturb vegetation).

Getting there

The dune is located within the province of La Teste-Du-Buch, and not too far from the town of Arcachon.

By car

The best way to reach the dune is by car, which you can rent from Bordeaux airport:

  • A63 –> Bayonne ou A63 –> Bordeaux
  • A660 –> Arcachon
  • N250 –> La Teste de Buch
  • D259 –> Dune du Pilat    

By train / bus

Alternatively, you can ride a train from Bordeaux to Arcachon and from there the bus Gare d’Arcachon-Dune du Pilat (Bus 1).

General infos

Opening Hours

The site is accessible 24/7 and entrance to the dune is free all year round. The parking area at the dune is open between 5am and 2am, and there is a 50€ fee for using it outside of these hours.

Price & Parking

Access to the site is free of charge but you’ll have to pay car park fees.

The main car park is located close to the main entrance of the dune with the stairs, fee is 4€ for 2 hours or 6€ for 4 hours (free if you stay less than 30 minutes – which is not enough to visit the dune). Parking is half price during low season in winter.

Best time to visit

The best seasons to visit the dune are late spring (April to June) and early autumn (September to November).

July to August is high season and you’ll find a lot of visitors and traffic, plus it tends to get a bit too hot, whereas winter (December through February) is low season but weather can be windy.

For sandboarding, it is best to hit the dune in the morning or late afternoon during the summer months in order to avoid both the crowds and heat.

Recommended tours

Sandboarding in Somme

Fort-Mahon-Plage Beach – Fort-Mahon-Plage

When you are on the beach facing the town with the sea in your back, walk a hundred meters to the left.

Point de vue de l’arrivée du sentier de la Mer – Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont

At the end of the “Sentier du bout du monde”

Sandboarding in Pas de Calais

Dunes de la Slack – Wimereux

Dunes de Berck – Berck

When parked at the phare south of the town, walk along the seashore and you’ll find your paradise. On the seashore between Berck to the south until Stella Plage to the north, dunes everywhere.

Photogallery: Sandboarding Côte d’Opale

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