Up and down the wide beaches, the coast is also enjoyed by kite flyers, fishermen, builders of sandcastles, and the occasional naturist.
The lakes are also flanked by white sandy beaches, where you can while away the day listening to the water lapping the sandy shores.
The lakes of Étang de Cazaux et de Sanguinet, and Étang de Biscarrosse et de Parentis are set amongst the vast pine forests and offer all manner of watersports and fishing.
Sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and kayaking are all available.
As well as the usual watersports, you can scuba dive from Port Maguide, on the Northern lake.
Handiski offer all imaginable watersports that require a speedboat, including waterski-ing, wakeboarding, banana boats and plenty other you’ve never seen before!
Biscarrosse is arguably the best place in Europe for kite-surfing, with a dedicated area at the Biscarrosse Ville end of the northern lake, at Navarrosse. This works well because the lake is shallow, and picks up consistently good winds between 5–8pm most evenings. There are even kite-surfing lessons available here.
Gastes, on the southern lake, is a good location for those searching for an active day on the lake. There is one beach, a marina, and games for children.
There is a good golf course set in the forest between Biscarrosse and Biscarrosse-Plage (18 + 9 holes; the par 68, 18 hole course is wooded and fairly tight, with good lake obstacles. The Gujan Mestras course near Arcachon is both a test of golfing skills and a pleasure on the eye. Like some of the famous Florida courses, Gujan makes the most of its natural environment of pine forest and lakes, to which have been added bunkers of brilliant white sand. 18 holes 6225 metres Par 72, or 9 holes 2630 metres Par 35. There are also practice facilities and a putting green.
For forest cycling & hiking, there are 17 kms of hiking trails and 30 kms of safe forest cycle tracks plus local bike hire shops.
An aerodrome at Biscarrosse offers fantastic pleasure flights, or gliding over the lakes, ocean and forests. You can even try your hand at parascending (Port Maguide, on the northern lake).
Children’s Tourist Attractions
There is a cinema in Biscarrosse Plage, and another in the main town. If your children are missing their virtual friends while on holiday, there’s also a Cybercafe in Biscarrosse Ville.
We don’t really think you need children to enjoy the woodland ‘Aventure Parc’. Graded courses get progressively more adventurous. 4 yr olds start with the ‘white’ course, offering ladders, tunnels, rope bridges and swings, in an earthy woodland location. The ‘black’ course includes monkey bars high above the ground, and huge poles like giant stepping stones. Or you could always do a bungee jump.
Nearby Gujan Mestras has several attractions that might appeal to your little ones. Aqualand does what it says on the tin – with every kind of waterslide you can imagine, plus a pool with waves. The Village Médiéval features a reconstructed medieval Landais village, showing traditional arts and crafts in action. TheMusée de la Maquette Marine is a museum of exquisitely made model ships. At the Parc Animalier la Coccinelle, children can feed baby lambs and goats.
The Biscarrosse water plane museum - Musée de l'Hyrdaviation - which many will find interesting, young and old.
There are skateparks at Biscarrosse Plage, and in Biscarrosse Ville.
Restaurants you might like to try are:
Uncle Sam’s Saloon ('Oncle Sam') serves Texan and Mexican food in a cowboy-styled setting, and often has live music at weekends.
236 av Latécoère, Biscosse Ville (main town) 05-58-78-80-80
The restaurant at Biscarrosse Golf Course, Le Parcours Gourmand, is Michelin-starred and has a great reputation. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for dining, or bistro lunch menu from Tuesday to Sunday.
400 Avenue du Golf, reservations: 05 58 09 84 84.
La Caravelle, near the golf course, is a quiet spot right on the Etang de Cazaux et de Sanguinet, open to guests. 5314 Route des Lacs, Ispes 05 58 09 82 67
Cousseau, in Parentis-en-Born, serves tasty sea and land food, with a wide choice of wine. All served in restaurant with a provincial French ambiance. Changing daily menu.
11 Rue St-Bartélémy, Parentis-en-Born
Chez Aldo, in Pyla-sur-Mer, serving excellent fish dishes - fairly unexciting looking premises and on edge of motorhome campsite but the food is really good!
The above list has been compiled with the help of the Lonely Planet Guide (South West France). We also recommend Michelin’s ‘The Green Guide’ (Atlantic Coast) and the Cadogan Guides – always an excellence and informative read. “Gascony and the Pyrenees” is the one to buy.
If you haven't spent enough time at the table over your meal, why not spend the rest of the night at the tables of Casino de Biscarrosse at Biscarrosse Plage (Boulevard des Sables) open every day from 10 in the morning until 3am.
Open every day during July and August, and at weeekends during the close season, L'Oceana is Biscarrosse Plage's night club, 46, rue du Grand Vivier, tel: 05 58 78 24 02.
The Musée Municipal De L’Hydraviation celebrates Biscarrosse’s tradition as a port for sea planes. It is filled with full sized seaplanes, photos, models, films, and mementoes of the great aviators.
The Musée des Traditions et de L’histoire de Biscarrosse demonstrates Roman artefacts from the bronze age. These were found by divers at the bottom of the lake Étang de Cazaux et de Sanguinet. On display you will find coins, jewellery, canoes, ceramics and other rare artefacts.
A great spot for nature lovers.
The water meadows and reeds are home to numerous species of migratory and non-migratory birds, the woods are home to birds, deer, roebuck, and other animals.
Inland at Sanguinet, Au Paradis du Papillon is a huge tropical greenhouse containing hundreds of butterfliesfrom around the world.
Bottlenose dolphins and porpoises can often be seen frolicking in the sea to the north, near Dune de Pilat.
An hour from Biscarrosse, on the eastern rim of the Bassin d’Arcachon, Le Teich is a river delta for the Leyre river. This provides ideal marshland for migratory birds stopping on their long journeys between Scandinavia and Africa. This rare environment of salt-water and fresh-water has been designated a Parc Ornithologique, and is the nesting ground for several species: grey herons, black cormorants, white storks, oystercatchers, egrets, kingfishers, spoon-billed shovellers and many more.
In Biscarrosse itself is a centuries-old elm tree under which the town’s unfaithful wives used to be sent. On one occasion the tree formed a crown of white leaves over an innocent’s head and, lo-and-behold, the tree has sprouted this white crown every year since!
Biscarrosse is a wonderful base for exploring this part of France: as well as the dunes, forests and lakes of the Landes, there is the outstanding natural beauty of the Bassin d'Arcachon or the vineyards and heritage of the Bordeaux region. It's all in easy reach:
Arcachon, a popular French resort and with plenty of options for visitors, is within a half-an-hour's drive. Stroll along the seafront or through the delightful Ville d’Hiver (Winter Town) and explore its fabulous collection of eclectic villas. There is also a lovely park to cool off in the shade and watch the locals play petanques. The Arcachon Basin is packed full of oyster farms and you will have no difficulty finding these slimy crustaceans to dine on in one of the town’s many seafood restaurants.
Ferries run from Arcachon to a host of destinations including Cap Ferret, a stylish resort on the other side of the Bassin at the point of the peninsula of the Presqu'Ile de Cap Ferret. Why not have dinner there and return on the late evening ferry? Sailing boats can be hired at Le Moulleau and at the marina in Arcachon.
You could spend all day on Cap Ferret - heading down to the Pointe (the Southern tip of the peninsula), stopping to climb to the top of the famous Cap Ferret lighthouse on the way. The views across the basin to the sandy wild-life reserve of the Banc d'Arguin and over to the Dune de Pyla (Europe's highest sand dune) are breathtaking from the lighthouse. At La Pointe, a tram runs to the Atlantic and is a very enjoyable ride, especially for children.
As you leave Arcachon for Biscarrosse, the Dune du Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe, standing at over 100 metres tall. A journey to the summit is a must, sunrise and sunset are the best times.
If you’re feeling ‘beached out’ why not take the opportunity to explore some of the region’s vineyards. Within an hour or two you can reach the many world-class vineyards of Bordeaux, such as Sauternes, Médoc andGraves.
The city of Bordeaux is an hour away and is a good option for a day-trip, whether it’s boutique shopping, sight-seeing or culture. Walking around the 18th century old town centre (Quartier St. Pierre), you can begin to imagine the city’s commercial and maritime past.
Medieval gems of the Gironde east of Bordeaux are also wonderful days out; St Emilion, with its 11th century basilica, is the best known but can be busy; St Macaire and La Réole are also enjoyable. Obviously there are more chateaux over here but an altogether different wine experience can be had at Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, in the middle of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte, vineyards, just south of Bordeaux. The spa offers unique beauty treatments derived from grand cru grapes of the Graves appellation renowned for their anti-ageing and micro-circulation improving properties - in short, visitors apparently come out feeling good!
Further south, Biarritz and Bayonne are worth visiting. Both are very different but provide a good introduction to the Pays Basque culture and the Pyrénéan landscape bordering Spain.
For further tourist information about the local areas beyond Biscarrosse, please browse these region guides:
» Arcachon Bay
» Landes Coast
» Bordeaux Countyside
The main advice we can offer is as follows:
1. If you plan to go to the beach, get there early. Biscarrosse Plage is not so bad to park as some resorts, but you can make it easier on yourself if you plan to go early.
2. Biscarrosse is very seasonal and some amenities, restaurants, etc will be closed outside July and August.