Landes Coast Region Guide

Active, beach-based holidays for outdoor-lovers

The Landes Coast, from the Dune de Pilat to the Adour estuary, is a natural playground of surfing beaches, forest trails and shimmering lakes.

The coastline includes family-friendly resorts BiscarrosseMimizan and Moliets and Europe's undisputed surf capital, Hossegor

It's an active-outdoors type of holiday: surfingsailing andwatersportscycle trailsgolfhorse-riding, are all widely available.

Sunset Landes Coast

Lac d'Aureilhan
 
 

OUR PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • A canoe trip along the Courant d'Huchet - peaceful, and shady on those hot days
  • Sitting on Hossegor beach admiring the surfers when the waves are up - impressive
  • An evening bowl of fresh mussels at Moliets' Cave aux Moules, washed down with a carafe of rose, and beach-stroll afterwards...
  • Cycle ride from Biscarrosse Lac to town through the forest, lovely route, but quite hilly - you'll earn a beer at the end of it
  • Drive around sleepy Landes villages admiring their many stunning medieval churches
 
Landes Coast
Vieux Boucau

ACTIVITIES

A lot of of familes and groups of friends going on holiday together tell us they are struggling to satisfy quite different needs. With its beaches, activities & sports, shopping, good wine and food, day trips, history & culture, the Landes Coast can keep everyone happy!

Ocean beaches
The Landes Coast is part of the Cote d'Argent (the Silver Coast) so there are over 100kms of ocean beach to choose from - sand and sea stretching as far as the eye can see. All the main towns have supervised bathing areas but if they're too busy, without venturing too far along you can usually find a quieter patch (though sometimes unsupervised - ocean currents can be strong so only good swimmers should venture out of the shallows).

Lake beaches
Within cycling distance of most of the main sea-side towns Aquitaine's lakes ('étangs') offer a lovely alternative to the ocean, with beaches perfect for toddlers and with the added comfort of shady picnic areas close by. Try the etangs de: Cazaux & Sanguinet or Parentis & Biscarrosse (both near Biscarrosse), AureilhanSoustons and Léon. All are delightfully tranquil alternatives for beach-days and picnics, and offer sailing and windsurfing centres. At Léon you can even canoe from the lake along the serene Courant d’Huchet to the ocean’s edge at Huchet!

Surfing
The Landes Coast is home to Europe's capital of surfing, Hossegor. It is the best-known and most fashionable surf-town and has the boutiques to prove it! It's by no means surfers' only destination though: Biscarrosse,Mimizan-PlageMolietsVieux-Boucau and Capbreton all also offer good surfing, and all have hire shops and surf schools.

Cycling
Bikes are a great way to get around Aquitaine and casual and more dedicated cyclists are all well-catered for. There is an extensive network of trails linking lakes and ocean towns, for example running from Biscarrosse lake to ocean, Aureilhan to Mimizan-Plage, in and all around Moliets, and linking Leon-Moliets-Seignosse-Hossegor.

Golf
The Landes Coast is an outstanding destination for golfers, and includes the highly-rated Golf de Moliets and Golf de SeignosseBiscarrosseHossegor also offer courses. Try combining playing the southern courses (Seignosse, Moliets, Hossegor) with ones around the Cote Basque - the Biarritz Golf Pass offers discounts on many of these.

Walking/hiking
Paths wind through the forest, around lakeshores and over dunes all along the coast. Serious walkers can try the GR8 national trail, connecting the Etang de Sanguinet near Biscarrosse and all subsequent lakes to the south - over 120km in all!

Watersports
Sailing and wind-surfing are also popular, especially on the lakes. Plenty of opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. You can take trips from Labenne (Bleu Pins campsite) or Lac de Leon, along the serene Courant d'Huchet.

Children's Activity Parks
To let off a bit more steam, there are adventure playgrounds/adrenalin parks at Moliets and Biscarrosse, and an impressive water park (Atlantic Park) at Seignosse (near Hossegor).

Horse-riding
With all that forest and space, it's not surprising horse-riding is popular, with several 'centres équestres' (including Biscarrosse and Messanges, near Moliets) offering courses and treks for beginners and more experienced riders. 

Markets
The staple of French daily life.
» Capbreton - Tue, Thu & Sun all year; every day in Jul & Aug
» Dax - Sat & Sun all year
» Leon - Tue all year; every day mid Jun - end Sep
» Magescq - Thu all year
» Messanges - Wed & Sat in Jul & Aug
» Moliets - Tue, Thu, Sat in Jul & Aug
» Seignosse Bourg - Wed all year
» Seignosse le Penon - Thu & Sun in Jun & Sep; plus Tue in Jul & Aug
» Saint Girons - Sun in Jul & Aug
» Saint Paul les Dax - Thu all year
» Soustons - Mon all year
» Vieux Boucau - Tue & Sat all year; every day except Sun in Jul & Aug

 

PLACES & SIGHTS TO SEE


Going from north to south, here's a selection of Landes Coast places and sights to give a lasting flavour of this surprisingly distinctive area:
.
Hossegor 
Has a lot to offer: boutique shopping, great bars and restaurants, world-famous surfing beaches, two lovely golf courses ranked in the Top 50 in France and a beautiful lagoon for safe bathing. It’s little wonder, therefore, that the town is popular in summer, especially with well-to-do French families and their surfing offspring.

Capbreton
Less well-known than Hossegor, but preferred to its neighbour by many locals for its sheltered beach and seafront, and the authentic village-by-the-sea atmosphere of the centre. The sea-front is a great place for a stroll before or after dinner. The jetty, known locally as l'estacade offers excellent coastal views. There's normally a few locals here trying to catch a fish for supper.

Experience Landais culture
To sample a pastime particular to the south west, visit Vieux-Boucau to watch course landaise (a less gory version of bull-fighting) and the Basque-invented pelota, the fastest ball-game in the world. If you’d like to learn more about the Landaise culture and traditions, try the eco-museum at Sabres in the Landes National Park,about a 20-30 minute drive from Mimizan.

Visit a spa
In France, the south west is known for its rejuvenating waters, both salt and fresh varieties. Dax is the official spa capital of France and is a 30 minute drive from the southern Landes coast.

Chalosse Country
To 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-ChalosseMugron and St. Sever are good stopping points 

City culture
Bordeaux is just 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, BayonneBiarritz and even San Sebastien andBilbao in Spain are in manageable day-tripping distance from Moliets and locations further south.

Head to the hills
An easy day-trip south to the Pyrenees for superb wildlife, walks and scenery.
 

CUISINE


The Landes Coast is situated at a wonderful gastronomic intersection - lively Spanish and Basque influences to the south, the sauces and wines of Bordeaux and the Bay of Arcachon to the north, the rich delights of Gascony inland. This means French classics - magret, boeuf de Bazas, foie gras - mingle with paellas, mussels, oysters, tapas, freshly-caught fish, and a huge selection of wines. All from within a 150 mile radius - this isn't somewhere you'll go hungry or thirsty!

As well as its neighbours produce, here's a selection of Landais specialities you might find:

Salade Landaise
A wonderful mixture of fresh cold salad 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.

Tourtière
A Landaise-style apple strudel whose pastry recipe substitutes butter with (can you guess?) goose fat!

Confits and patés
This isn't 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 white wine.

Eating out
Restaurant recommendations - as provided by owners and clients alike. There are many more provided in our resort guides.

Auberge de Biaudos Biaudos - between Bayonne and Peyrehorade north of the river

Auberge Batby, 63 avenue de Galleben, on the lake at Soustons. 05 58 41 18 80 - recommended by the Ridgways (2010) as "fantastic for a special meal - set menu at €35 each, with a great selection to choose from".

The Farrers tell us that Relais de la Poste, 24 avenue de Maremne, Magescq 05 58 47 70 25 is "excellent, looked after the children well, food 9/10."

 

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