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Dune du Pilat - largest sand dune in Europe

very civilised steps to the top

Sunday 29th Sept 13 (day 29)

I was first woken by the sound of birds chirping - noisy little bastards. The second time by the campers next door arguing about if it was going to rain or not. The third time by the sound of rain drops on the tent - but they were only light so no panic. We had the best nights sleep in the tent to date - mainly due to the mildness of the night. Much easier to sleep camping when it is not so cold.

Being Sunday we had a cooked breakfast of poached eggs. The day does not look too promising for no rain but we potted around and then finally headed off for the afternoon on our bikes to explore around a little. We rode about 6km south out of town to Dune du Pilat. This is the largest sand dune in Europe - 3km long by 117m high - and would you believe there is a staircase for you to climb to the top. Hats off to the French! Much easier climbing 160 steps (although a bit lopsided) to the top of a sand dune than trying to struggle up the slope of the giant sand mound. Pretty cool from the top we could view out into the Atlantic Ocean and inland across a great forested area. We saw parasailers jumping off the dune and riding the thermals over the sand and ocean.

Back down at sea level we had just ducked inside a touristy shop - one of many which line the pathway to the dune - when it started to rain. Came down heavy-ish for about 10 minutes then when it had just about stopped we decided to brave it and head back to the bikes for lunch was waiting in one of the panniers. Well we thought it was, but alas we had forgotten the bread and all we had was a round of very smelly cheese. Don't be put off when I say smelly cheese cause the smellier the better tasting. But it would have to wait until we returned to camp as being a Sunday afternoon there was no hope of finding any kind of shop open to buy bread. Luckily we also had a banana each - which had been sharing the bag with the smelly cheese and although tasted alright did have an aroma which did not relate to banana! Much the same as our jumpers which shared the same bag. Which I guess was transferred to our bodies when we donned the jumpers. Oh well, there are worse things to smell of than smelly cheese, isn't there???

It was still raining when we wanted to leave so we just put on our rain capes - which are still keeping us dry but really do need replacing as all the tape inside on the seams has come away - and rode back towards Arcachon. The rain soon stopped and we were able to dry our capes in the wind as we stood beachside watching the many kite surfers do their stuff.

The bike paths here a fantastic - would be even better if people did not use them for walking when there is a perfectly good footpath right next to it. But so far we have not hit anyone, very close a few times, but if you choose to walk on a velo path, ignore my bell and me yelling 'hello, get off the bike path' well then you deserve to be hit my me on Fonsi - whose brakes are not what they used to be.

We rode along the shore and boulevard and up to the port for about an hour. The rain had stopped so there were lots of people out walking also. Around 4pm hunger got the better of us and we rode back to camp to eat our left behind bread and smelly cheese (which was magnificent by the way.) It rained on and off for the rest of the afternoon and evening with the sun showing its face at about 6pm like it always does. It's like a little tease to say hey maybe you will see more of me tomorrow! We have taken shelter on the veranda of one of the cabins (which are not available for use due to them being closed for the season) as there is nowhere else for tent campers to be out of the rain unless we want to sit in our tiny tent or stand in the toilet block. We decided we will cook dinner here as well until someone shoos us away. So hot shower, cook dinner then bed - should be dark by then - gets dark around 8pm. Not much else we can do and we need the rest after our strenuous day.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 12:09 Archived in France Tagged du dune arcachon pilat Comments (2)

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