Climb Dune du Pyla

Some 60km from Bordeaux is the Great Dune of Pyla (Dune du Pilat), the largest sand dune in Europe, measuring 107m high, 2500m long and 500m wide.

From the top there are wonderful ocean views, a vista of the neighbouring pine forest and, on a clear day, the glimpses of the Pyrenees.

You can walk as many of the 2500m as your calf muscles will allow.

How to experience it: For more information visit

Beach yourself

In the middle of winter, it’s possible to walk for miles down white sandy beaches and not see another soul.

In summer, people throng here to surf and soak up the sun on some of Europe’s finest beaches from the Médoc peninsula, north-west of Bordeaux, south through Biarritz to the Spanish border.

How to experience it: To find your own secluded stretch of sand, hire a car from Biarritz or Bordeaux. See for a basic rundown of the major beaches.

Hike the Pyrenees

Straddling the French-Spanish border, the Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

The GR10 route will take you east to west (or vice versa).

There are also plenty of day walks and overnight treks with stops at mountain refuges or in small villages.

How to experience it: The Pyrenees National Park ( is spectacular, and nudges east from the Aquitaine region.

Dip your toes in Arcachon Bay

Arcachon, 55km south-west of Bordeaux, was once a luxury resort that attracted Spanish royalty, Russian dukes and artists from across Europe.

Today it attracts day-trippers, sailors and windsurfers, and cyclists and walkers exploring the nearby pine forests.

Although it’s set on a bay, Arcachon has the look and feel of a seaside town, with restaurants lining the waterfront and piers stretching out to the horizon.

The bay is a great place to learn to sail or windsurf.

How to experience it: See