Overlooking the Bay of Biscay, Landes is a sprawling department in the south-west of France. It takes its name from the heathland that once covered large parts of the region before being used as pasturage for sheep. During the 19th century, Landes was famed for its shepherds on stilts who were depicted in artworks of the period.
Things to do in Landes
Whether you want to get lost in the medieval streets of Mont-de-Marsan or relax on Atlantic beaches, Landes is sure to impress.
Sightsee in Mont-de-Marsan. Located at the junction of the Douze and Andou rivers, Mont-de-Marsan was established as a walled settlement in the 12th century. Marvel at the fortified tower of Donjon Lacataye, which now houses the Despiau-Wlerick Sculpture Museum, and admire the centuries-old warehouses that line the riverside. At Parc Animalier de Nahuques, you can get up close to Corsican mouflons, dwarf goats and more than 100 species of birds.
Get active in La Forêt des Landes. Landes is home to the largest man-made woodland in Western Europe, La Forêt des Landes, which was established in the 18th century. Now largely planted with maritime pine, the area was previously covered in moors that provided pasturage for sheep. Several nature trails wind their way between the towering trees and can be explored on foot or by bicycle.
Ride the waves of Soorts-Hossegor. Not only is Soorts-Hossegor a popular seaside resort, but it’s also one of the most famous surfing destinations on the French coastline. Each year, it hosts the Quiksilver Pro France, which sees the world’s best surfers descend on the beach. Beginners can test their skills on the gentle break at La Sud while experienced board riders will love the tubes of La Graviere.
Getting around Landes
Biarritz Pays Basque Airport is the main aviation gateway to Landes and has flights to destinations across Europe. Regular trains connect from Bordeaux to Mont de Marsan and Dax while buses serve smaller towns and villages. Renting a car is the most convenient way of getting around Landes.