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If you love the great outdoors and are looking for the cheapest flights to France, a fabulous place to head is the western region of Landes in Aquitane.
Landes nestles in the far southwest corner of France with its coastline on the Bay of Biscay. That stretch of the Atlantic infamous for choppy unsettled sea takes those waves, upsetting many a first time sea goer, crashing onto the beaches for Landes making it a great favourite with surfers from around the world.
The region is also famous for its sand dunes and the pine forests planted to tame the shifting sands. There are some of Europe’s greatest river estuaries, home to unique wildlife. It’s these beautiful natural assets that are home to many activity resorts.
The Landes coastal strip is traditionally split into 4 distinct regions. Starting in the north is Medoc Bleu. The beaches at Soulac, Lacanau and Montalivet all offer excellent surfing and have surf schools and hire shops to facilitate all levels of ability.
However the Medoc Blue has almost 100km of beaches so it’s not all about the surfers. All the main resorts have supervised swimming areas as currents can be very strong and inexperienced swimmers could get into serious difficulties. This area however also has the shimmering Aquitaine lakes, or etangs within cycling distance, which offer safe beaches for families. Try etangs de Lacanau and d’Hourtin Carcans for a tranquil day out.
The next region to the south is Bassin d’Arcachon. This huge bay is home to a wide variety of birdlife with bird watching reserves in Ile Aux Oiseaux (Bird Island) in the bay which can be reached by boat from the Arcachon jetties. Sailing is popular here and Arcachon’s Port de Plaisance has its own sailing club from where you can hire boats to sail the Bassin and perhaps view the famous Dune De Pyla, the largest Dune in Europe, near the mouth of the bay.
From the Dune de Pyla down to the Ardour Estuary the region is known as Cote Landaise with family-friendly beach towns and the most popular surfing destinations. Hossegor is the best known and most fashionable and has boutiques and top surf schools catering for all levels. Biscarrosse, Mimizan-Plage, Moliets, Vieux-Boucau and Capbreton all also offer great surfing.
Landaise is well known for golf and is home to the world class Golf de Moliet and Golf de Seignosse both of which offer lesson with the pro for those wishing to return from their holidays with an improved swing.
Most southerly of the regions, nudging up against the Pyrennees and turning to face north rather than west is the Cote Basque. As the foot hills of the mountainous border with Spain meet the sea the long sandy beaches of Landaise change to rocky coves.
While there is still world class surfing and beaches for the sea lovers, the wilder countryside gives this region superb hiking, horse trekking and white water rafting.
Wherever you go to in Landes be ready for an active holiday but rest assured, its villas and resorts offer plenty of relaxation to recharge those batteries.
Linda Endersby spent 19 years in the airline industry enabling her to visit many beautiful places across the world. As well as writing about the places she loves, weekends as a bookseller offer her fabulous opportunities to research future destinations.