Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Great Dune of Pyla

Sounds like a science fiction or fantasy novel title, doesn't it? The real thing isn't far from the truth.

Imagine driving through rolling French farmland, dotted with trees. The trees turn into clumps of trees, and the clumps thicken until you are in a sunlight-speckled European forest. Leaving the car behind, imagine walking out of the trees into a clearing, and yet, it isn't a clearing. It's a giant sandy wall jutting out of the forest floor.

This is the sand dune of Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe.

We climbed a stairway to the top of the dune, which Laura ironically ran up (she's a smoker) while Julie ironically huffed and puffed and struggled (she quit smoking 2 months ago). The view from the top was amazing. On seaward side, the dune descended gently toward a blue bay on the Atlantic coast. On the other side, the dune fell steeply into a sea of trees, giving the illusion that you had a blue sea on one side and a green one on the other. We trudged south for a bit in the deep, fine sand before turning back as the clouds rolled in.