Landes Sud

The final five nights of our west coast of France fortnight were spent in Landes, the second most southerly department of this coast. Landes means moors or heaths and the Landes forest is the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe. The coast continues to be miles upon miles of beautifully sandy beach punctuated only very occasionally by access over the dune behind.

Our campsite base was Camping Indigo Landes Sud (Landes south). After the noise from the playground at our previous campsite this was a welcome relief. It's a smallish site spread over a wide area. Pine trees tower over the pitches and there's literally nothing else around but pine tree forests. It's a little bit in the middle of nowhere, which is perfect for us.

The location did entail a 16 kilometre bike ride to the beach however. It was mostly flat but there were occasional gradients that made it hard work.

We were allowed to pitch upon arrival at 12.30pm which was nice of the staff since 2pm is the official arrival-from time. We were allocated a pitch but told if there was a vacant one we liked better, just to let them know. We chose an absolutely massive pitch, big enough to have been two pitches, much of it sand. Tony parked on the grass and we faced the leisure door to where we expected the evening sun to be. The awning was on sand, but it proved easier to keep the ground sheet clean than it had at the previous site.

Being so early in the day we had the chance to enjoy the afternoon and we rode our bikes to the nearby lake. We found some grass with three little sections of sand at the water's edge and sat in the sun until cars started arriving with fishermen. We didn't mind heading back to Cleopatra early though as we were looking forward to long evenings cooking our meals and enjoying a few beers in the peace of our new campsite.

The next day was going to be sunny and we declared it a beach day. The 16km cycle ride was hard going, though we'd get used to it. As per usual, we made a harder job of finding a quiet section of beach than it needed to be, stopping midway between two beach access points and scaling a dune. There was a higher proportion of naturists than usual which we'd discover the next day was because there's a naturist spa and retreat behind the beach.

Our fourth and fifth days would start out with some cloud cover so we took the opportunity to explore the neighboring towns and villages. We stumbled upon Leon with a sprawling outdoor market, perfect if you wanted overpriced olives or cheese, or tacky beach towels.

We continued cycling until we reached the sea at Moliets-et-Maa and then spent an hour in the sun with our books.

On the return cycle ride I spotted a red and white billboard that screamed 'supermarket' and so we left the cycle path, locked up our bikes and took the opportunity to buy supplies. We passed a fruit and vegetable kiosk by the roadside and decided we'd come back to that, but Super U gave us the chance to assemble other ingredients that would become paella for the evening's dinner. We bought two fatty chicken thighs and a bag of frozen squid rings. I was also able to buy conditioner to replace what I'd left in the shower two days previously.

For our final day, as if the bike ride to the beach weren't already long enough, we started out by cycling the same distance in completely the opposite direction to visit Castets, the next nearest town. It turned out not to be much of an attraction and nor were the towns of Linxe or Vielle-Saint-Girons as we made our way back to the coast.

All in all our stay in Landes was all about the beach and the two hour there-and-back bike rides that I'm sure will have shed a few pounds.

The west coast of France is beautiful, seeming to be endless stretches of sandy beach and all-too-easy-to-find deserted sections if you're willing to put in a little effort to find them. Even the busy parts weren't crowded. I know we'll be back next time a beach holiday is our key priority.


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