Straight out of a movie…

Arcachon and Dune du Pilat

I’m feeling a bit better and we’ve done a whole lot of nothing in Bordeaux. Save a few walks around the old part of town and a church. It’s been nice to visit with friends we haven’t seen much of in years.

They suggest we take the train to Arcachon, eat some oysters and rent some bikes to take in the sites.

The train was nearly empty at 8:30.

Arcachon is this picturesque tourist sea town on the south western shores of France. It’s relatively quiet this time of year but come lunch time it’s packed along the boardwalk.

France is the most visited country on earth. However, I read somewhere recently that 70% of French tourism comes from within France. That means only 30% of the tourists aren’t French. This is most noticeable in Arcachon.

The majority of restaurants are closed by 2 or 3PM. Having worked a split shift for the last seven years, I know why they do this. It’d be impossible to get through a three or four hours lunch shift and four or five hour dinner shift. Especially if you have to pay your employees overtime past 35 hours a week.

It is nevertheless frustrating as a tourist looking for a place to eat that suits our schedule. Third restaurant attempt was a charm. Trying to find a place open by the time we finish our 24km bike ride to the Dune De Pilat, was a challenge.

Tasty, but I’ve never had to scrape the oyster out of the shell myself before with a fork (i.e. the wrong tool).

There is a lot to like about France but coming from Vancouver. I gotta say, Oysters are not one of them. There are endless oyster farms near Arcachon. This makes the flavour good but the shucking needs work.

I’m a big fan of Oyster Express in Chinatown, near our place in Vancouver. The view isn’t as good, but the oysters are much better. You’ll also see better variety.

The waterfront of Arcachon is at least as nice as the seawall in Vancouver though…

The feature event of this part of our trip is definitely the Dunes and it was quite a beautiful bike ride up to them. Easy too, save for the last few hundred meters uphill. If you’re ever in this part of the world, think about it.

Slowly eating the forest behind it…

Dune Du Pilat

Where is the jaw drop emoji when you need it?

The Dune Du Pilat is the tallest dune in Europe. At 110 m tall, 500 meters thick/wide and 2.7 km long, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon an oasis.

The forest behind collides with a mountain of sand. What was once part of the Atlantic Wall during World War 2. Has now buried all traces of the Nazi beach defences that were once here.

If I were into paragliding or kite surfing, I’m sure I’d be in heaven.

It’s so big, they made stairs!

This does not feel like France. It’d be easy to mistake this for a desert landscape in a film. The Sahara even with the right editing.

If it weren’t for all the tourists trekking up to it in stilettos and fashionable clothes that is. You see this a lot on the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver.

Fashionable tourists who are completely unaware of the impracticality of wearing fancy clothes in this instance. To what is essentially a tough hike. Or in this case, the tallest beach you’ve ever been to. It’s so big, they warn you with multiple signs about venturing down to the beach. It’s a long way back up.

It’s windy and the sand is blowing everywhere and into every orifice. Still you can’t beat the views.

At least the walk back down and ride back into town is downhill…

It’s hard to catch the scope of this thing with a cell phone camera…