Dune du Pila
A mecca for sand-loving pilots, the infamous Dune du Pila certainly didn’t disappoint us.
After a month of paragliding in Bali, Switzerland and France, we headed west for a coastal visit to the Bordeaux region of France. We figured if it rained we’d visit the wineries, and if the conditions were good we could enjoy some more flying – a win/win scenario!
We stayed in a nearby town, Arcachon, which was a summer holiday destination for many tourists in the Gironde department in southwestern France. There’s a wide range of accommodation, from 5 stars to cabins and camping in caravan parks. Hiring your own vehicle is highly recommended – we hired a Renault Koleos, and wouldn’t recommend that particular vehicle 😉
Pila is around 15-minutes by car from Arcachon, and if you head to the very left edge of the dunes – which is also on the left of a nearby caravan park – this provides off street vehicle parking and entry to the dunes.
A short walk brings you to a lovely viewing point and the official Pila ’club rooms’:
The dunes are magnificent!
We arrived in the morning for a reccy, and there was a chance there’d be enough wind by early afternoon. When we arrived back, it was quite a sight. I’ve never seen so many pilots and colour, in the same place at the same time. It was absolutely crazy. We were visiting in September after the official season had ended – and it was still pretty busy, by our standards. However the local tandem pilots reported how quiet it was.
The Dunes du Pila is a great place both for ground handling skill practice, and for entertainment. The conditions were pretty light for flying, however Anita decided to give it a go. After a long run and forced to give way to tandem pilots circling in front of her, Anita finally made it into the air and turned a corner.
Where now! There really wasn’t much room to fly. The lift ban was very small and the air was rather congested. After a short flight, she landed on the beach and then had the enormous task of climbing 200 metres in altitude, back up the dunes with 20kg on her back and in the heat. But it was totally worth it.
- Arcachon is a great nearby town to stay, with lots of cafés, restaurants and local markets.
- Hire a car
- Arrive to Dune du Pila early, as it gets incredibly busy
- Wear sand-proof shoes. The locals fly barefoot!
- Visit out of season, unless you’re comfy with crowded air
Press play to enjoy our video: