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Apologies for this 'old-fashioned' web page. We are in the process of updating this section of our website - Justin & Alex
peaceful, natural retreat - refresh yourself!
An area of over 300 sq km and a population of just 350,000 - the Landes Forest regional park is somewhere to get back in touch with nature. Visitors here invariably
leave with a renewed sense of peace and vitality.
For more active days
there are lakes for boating, swimming, picnic-ing
or just observing the wildlife, and several centres
for horse-riding, canoeing, cycle
trails, rambling along marked routes or discovering local
Join in village festivals in summer -
lively, friendly, great fun! For days out, within easy reach are vineyards, ocean
beaches and Gascony countryside and culture.
All in all, a natural haven.
picked out five 'must-dos' when on holiday in Landes Forest:
Watch a course landaise exhibition then join the town party
or dinner in an unpretentious village
restaurant - eat royally for the price of a pizza
afternoon forest walk, or cycle ride, enjoying the
myriad sounds of wildlife
at a magnificent Landes Coast beach
A day at the lakes - picnic, cycle, sail, bathe. Bliss
The Landes Forest regional park is a natural playground for people who enjopy nature and the outdoors and who don't want towns, cities and crowds.
Cycling and walking trails
The larger Landes
Forest villages usually offer local walking and cycling
trails. Moustey and Morcenx are good examples. The Mios-Bazas trail (from
the Bassin d'Arcachon south eastwards towards Gascony) is
a lovely prepared forest cycle path which passes through the
north of the Landes National Park. Landes National
Park centres at Belin-Beliet and Sabres offer a booklet with a wide selection
of suggested routes.
Horse-riding centres in the
region (including at Pissos, Sore, Trensacq) offer treks & lessons, usually
for all ages, in what is an ideal environment. The Landes
Horse-riding Federation has addresses and details.
This offers an unforgettably different
perspective of the region. On the Leyre river, known locally
as the Petit Amazone, people of all ages and experience can
take canoe and kayak rides from various spots along its shore.
Look out for otters along the way. There are canoeing centres
at Commensacq, Pissos and Belin-Beliet. Nearer the coast (towards the
south) there is also canoeing on the courant d'Huchet at Leon.
Being a Departement of mostly wide-open
space, nature is everywhere in the Landes National Park. An
excellent place to enjoy this is the Domaine Departemental
de Loisirs at Hostens at the northern end of the
region, a woodland park with cycling and wildlife trails set
around a beautiful lake with beaches and suitable for swimming
(supervised in summer). There are also walks and trails at Arjuzanx lake, near Morcenx.
For bird-watching, the Marais d'Orx on the
southern tip of the region, is a staging post for over 250
Experience local history & culture
The Landes National Park is culturally quite distinct from
the regions around. One tradition is stilt-walking - when
the Landes was mostly marsh, this is how the locals got around.
A list of demonstration events is available from the Landes
Folklore Society. Another is course landaise,
the Gascon version of bull-fighting (highly skilful, and doesn't
involve killing the animals). Events take place across the
region, including in Dax, Parentis, Mimizan, Sainte Eulalie.
More details from the Course Landaise Federation.
Music & festivals
The people of the
south-west are renowned for their festivals (locally known
a heste), and the Landes is no exception. Each year
in mid-August the small village of Uzeste hosts
a jazz festival, known world-wide for a fantastic
atmosphere. Expect to hear the distinctive, infectious melodies
and rhythms of the bandas, Landais brass bands. Nearby Luxey also holds an annual street
music festival in August. Bigger events also take
place in Mont-de-Marsan (July), Dax (August) and Parentis (July) - you'll
need some stamina, they last five days and five nights!
The Landes Gascon-influenced heritage
means food is an important part of life here too. Traditional
markets take place weekly throughout the region, including
in Labouheyre, Luxey, Magescq, Morcenx, Sabres, Sore.
Best to check days with property owners.
On the southern tip of the region
is France's spa capital, Dax, known for the therapeutic value
of its hot springs since Roman times. One of the best-known
de Borda, an extensive pool complex, for treatments,
or simply for fun!
visitors to the Landes Forest go
'native', unwinding with walks and cycle rides close to where
they stay, enjoying the place they are staying in and visiting
not much more than the local boulangerie... If you do wish
to go further afield, here are a few suggestions:
Ecomusée des Grandes Landes
A 'living' museum where traditional 19th century Landais farm-buidlings
have been sympathetically reconstructed and brought to life
by demonstrations of rural life back then. It is reached
by a 6 minute train ride from Sabres and is worth making
a day for, especially for those with children.
Landais village life is quiet and
traditional - a reminder of how much of France lived pre-1939.
There are numerous villages worth visiting in the region,
including Luxey, Moustey,
notable for being home to two churches built side-by-side,
and Mezos. There is also the small village
of Uzeste to the north is the unlikely
home to 12th century gothic church containing the remains
of Pope Clement V. On your visits look out for 'cercles',
traditional Landais cafés originally the refuge and
meeting place of the privileged classes after the Revolution.
Visit Chalosse Country
the south of Dax and Mont-de-Marsan you start to enter rural
Gascony, which means several things: foie gras, floc de
Gascogne (a sherry-like aperitif) and a pleasantly slow
pace of life. The food is marvellous (salade landaise is a must-try), the towns are half asleep except for
market days, and the countryside is highly relaxing. Montfort-en-Chalosse, Mugron and St. Sever are
good stopping points.
Visit the coast
coastal resorts are easily reachable from the Landes Forest, including the Bassin d'Arcachon just
north of Biscarrosse - ferries run from Arcachon to a host
of destinations including Cap Ferret, a
smart resort on the other side of the Bassin d’Arcachon
and to the beautiful Banc d’Arguin,
a sand-bank nature reserve. To the south, Hossegor and Biarritz also have a lot to
offer: boutique shopping, great bars and restaurants, world-famous
City culture - Bordeaux
over an hour from Biscarrosse and is a good option for a
day-trip, whether it’s boutique shopping, sight-seeing
or museums. In the other direction, Bayonne (a lovely, under-rated city) and even Bilbao in Spain (and famolus for the Guggenheim museum)
are in manageable day-tripping distance from the southern
parts of the region.
this part of Aquitaine, as with all the others, food plays
a very important part in people's way of life. Here's a selection
of what you might find:
A wonderful mixture
of fresh cold salad, locally-grown asparagus and warm salty
meat - various, hard-to-identify (best not ask), fried cuts
of fowl. The Landes is renowned in France for its poultry,
especially, capons, ducks and geese, and parts of some or
all of these are to be found in the landaise salad. Makes
a perfect lunch with a glass of rose.
apple strudel whose pastry recipe substitutes butter with
(can you guess?)... goose fat!
Confits and patés
the place to explain the differences between the two, just
to say that the Landes duck and geese populations are raised
in a laudable purpose, maintaining the local tradition of
making fine accompaniments to toast and a glass of chilled
Cèpes and girolles
are a lot of words for 'mushroom' in French, a testament to
the depth of its culinary heritage. Look out for these delicately-flavoured
fungi in September/October, either in the forest itself, or
on the local restaurant's 'specials' menu.
Wine, Armagnac and other tipples
Vins de Tursan, Floc de Gascogne and Armagnac all come from the area just
to the south of the Landes National Park.The Armagnac region isn't far away
- the ecomusée de l'armagnac is just south of Labastide
d'Armagnac, situated in the château Garreau.
Where to eat
If this has whetted your appetite and you'd like more details
and even a few recipes, visit Qualité
Landes, a site promoting local produce.
To try Landes cuisine while you are there, twenty establishments
in and around the region, brought together by the three Michelin-starred
chef Michel Guérin, offer very high quality, authentic
Landais cuisine. Details available at the Association
des Cuisiniers Landais website - click on a place
name for more details.