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. Many thanks to user brigadier who pointed out many more sandboarding spots in the Côte d’Opale in our forum.
Sandboarding at Dune du Pilat
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. It 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. The climb is particularly easy thanks to the presence of stairs.
While the Dune du Pilat is often advertised as the European sandboarding Mecca, 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).
The dune is located within the province of La Teste-Du-Buch, and not too far from the towns of Arcachon.
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).
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 there are 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, while winter (December through February) is low season but weather can be windy.
For sandboarding, we recommend hitting the dune in the morning or late afternoon during the summer months.
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.