First stop was the Dune du Pilat, which is definitely worth a visit. We went last year - I wasn't blogging then, but enjoyed it so much I wrote this short piece...
We park under the pine trees, step out into the heat and breathe in that unmistakeable smell of the sea. Everyone's irritable after the slow journey. It seems the world and his wife had the same idea as us.
Our little family troop joins a growing mass of sightseers winding their way up a tree lined path; picking up speed past the stalls and cafes in the hope of avoiding the all too familiar call for ice cream. Then the pine trees part and we get our first proper look at this extraordinary, towering mountain of sand, rising up from the forest floor. The Dune du Pilat, takes me by surprise - it is somehow gloriously unexpected eventhough I've read the guide. I know it's the largest sand dune in Europe. It stops me in my tracks. Just for a moment.
The children start running - the fine, warm sand is like a magnet and soon they're scrabbling up the side. I take the easier route, joining the slow procession moving up the steps. It is quite a climb but the steps are wide and the pace is gentle.
At the top my feet sink in and I wait for the others: they soon arrive, out of breath. Then another short walk up through the treacley sand to reach the highest point.
And what a view. Stunning which ever way you look.
In front, the deep blue of the Atlantic ocean and the Cap Ferret peninsula at the tip of Archachon Bay. Behind a dense forest of pine trees stretching as far as the eye can see.
We sit down to take it in. It's high season and we're surrounded by a constant hum - but it doesn't matter, it is still magical.
A trail of people walk on along the top of the dune. The children aren't so keen to follow after their climb, so we watch a paraglider trying to launch off the sandy slope until the youngest lets us know it's time to go back.
We race down the side, jumping high into the air. Ten seconds of pure, exhilerating fun. The memory of being stuck in hot holiday traffic fading with each thrilling leap.