The village of Contis, to the rhythm of the surf sessions
The Landes coastline is a European surfing capital by meeting all the perfect conditions for learning to surf but also for high-level practice. Here, the superb beach-breaks , these long and regular waves which break on a sandy bottom close to the edge, have nothing to envy to the most famous neighboring surf spots of the Atlantic like Hossegor or Cape Breton. Between the beaches of Contis to the north, Cap de l'Homy, the beach of Lette Blanche and Saint-Girons to the south, the 27 kilometers of beaches bordered by the generous swells of the ocean make it a huge land of games for all thrill seekers. More than a hobby or a simple sporting activity, here surf culture is omnipresent: a relaxed , friendly art of living in harmony with the elements .
183 steps , not one less! In the middle of the maritime pines of the Contis forest, a beautiful climb leads to the top of the Contis lighthouse by a spiral staircase. In 'Barber Pole' style with its black and white spiral painting, the only lighthouse in the Landes - equidistant from Biarritz and Arcachon - was commissioned in December 1863. Still in use, this building is today classified as a Historic Monument. Hang in there ! Take to the heights for a great reward: at 41.5 meters high , the panoramic view is magnificent over the Landes, its beaches as far as the eye can see and the vastness of the forest.
Short trips daily to the great getaways in the day, this destination is lived by bike! To change your pace , take the time to observe nature and get off the beaten track , criss - cross kilometers of secure cycle paths and marked routes: between the Vignac cycle path, the Cap de l'Homy cycle path, the Vélodyssée de Contis Plage in Léon, there is bound to be a cycle path that runs right by your vacation spot and takes you to your destination. You can also take the green route "Lo Camin de Hè" ("The Railway" in Gascon) which follows the route of the old Landes railway by connecting the village of Taller to Vielle-Saint-Girons , by Castets and Linxe . All 10 villages in the community of communes are easily accessible by bicycle! What a pleasure to let yourself be carried from village to village, to discover the heritage by bike, to stop in the village squares or on the terraces of cafes, to improvise a picnic in the shade of the pines… Quite an art to live, and moreover, environmentally friendly and much more economical than the car!
Contis Current Descent
Departing from the canoe base of Lit-et-Mixe , go on an adventure on almost 8km of descent of the Courant de Contis ! Solo, couple or family, embark for 2H30 of absolute happiness to discover the Landes "canopy" , an area classified NATURA 2000 for the richness of its fauna and flora. In total harmony with nature, travel the meanders of the shallow river , directing your canoe through narrow and winding passages, and enjoying the landscapes that sweep before your eyes. Between the wet meadows , the marshy areas , the wild banks and the green forests, here is a breathtaking natural environment accessible only by canoe. A memorable experience!
It is to be mistaken but no, the pastis landais has absolutely nothing in common with the famous alcoholic drink flavored with anise and licorice. In the Landes, this is a traditional pastry , a generous , delicious and tasty brioche . If once we enjoyed it exclusively at weddings and major local festivals, pastis landais is now a popular dessert to be enjoyed at any time of the day: at breakfast, at the end of a meal or even as a snack, for the most great happiness of the children. Flavored with subtle flavors of rum , vanilla , orange blossom or Armagnac according to the recipes, you will find them on the markets, in bakeries or delicatessens. Succumb to the temptation, this delicious cake is an integral part of the local culture!
Nicknamed "the Landes Amazon", the current of Huchet constitutes a natural wonder of 12 kilometers which connects the lake of Léon to the ocean. From the banks of the Lac de Léon, embark aboard a traditional boat with a boatman , the famous Landes " galupe ", for a few hours of ride and a total change of scenery . Let yourself be enchanted by the unique atmosphere of this atypical watercourse, classified as a natural reserve since 1981. An unusual journey through a wild, fragile and protected environment, to discover absolutely!
Hungry for culinary discoveries ? The pleasures of the table are a real institution in the Landes. From the earth to the plate, we like to rediscover the taste of good local products . The local star? Foie gras from the best duck farms, raised in freedom and fed with Landes corn . Omnipresent in restaurants, it is difficult to resist this delicacy. Imagine a nice slice of semi-cooked whole foie gras, served on crispy fresh bread and accompanied by an onion jam, a fig or apple chutney. Here, the foie gras is available according to the imagination of the chefs. What if we combined foie gras toast with gingerbread, sweet and savory foie gras recipes such as crème brûlée , pan-fried foie gras crostini or even foie gras burgers ? A real treat !
Admiring the regional architecture is a fascinating activity on vacation. How not to fall in love with traditional Landes houses ? These superb colored half-timbered houses bear witness to a type of habitat in step with the evolution of the Landes landscape transformed in the 19th century into a pine forest , when wood was an accessible resource. In the heart of the villages of Lit-et-Mixte, Castets, Linxe or Lévignacq , sublime examples of these charming old houses remain intact, to the delight of our eyes! The region having undergone many Basque, Bearn, Gironde and Gers influences, its architecture is very diverse. A boon for lovers of architecture and heritage !
The Lit-et-Mixte Church
The charming alleys of Castets
On foot or by bike, the real luxury of a vacation is to take your time! Disconnect, slow down, no longer worry about schedules, cultivate idleness to make the most of it. Between land, pine forest and ocean, the 10 villages of Côte Landes Nature conceal many small heritage treasures not to be missed. In the heart of Lit-et-Mixe, discover the fascinating architecture of the "Notre Dame de Lit" church. In Uza, the Saint-Louis church is a marvel classified as a Historic Monument. In Castets, a heritage circuit set up by the Tourist Office reveals various architectural riches: the town hall and its neoclassical style, the Saint-Barthélemy-et-Saint-Roch church as well as the old forges of Castets, today ruined. In Lévignacq, admire the old presbytery which borders the Saint-Martin church, fortified and classified as a Historic Monument. Real little corners of paradise for lovers of old stones, epicureans, history lovers or the curious!
Cap de l'Homy beach
Lake Leon beach, perfect for children
Finally, Côte Landes Nature is a heavenly destination for all lovers of idleness ! From the wildest to the most intimate, its idyllic beaches are perfect for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway. La Dolce Vita Landaise in perspective. Contis beach, Cap de l'Homy beach and Lette Blanche beach are undoubtedly among the most beautiful beaches in the Landes for swimming or watching the sunset over the ocean. Nestled behind the dunes, these vast expanses of fine sand offer real postcard landscapes in all seasons. For those who wish to sunbathe in their simplest device, Arnaoutchot beach is reputed to be one of the most beautiful naturist beaches in France . Finally, ideal for families and young children, the two beaches of Lake Leon offer safe swimming with shallow water, at temperatures always higher than those of the ocean.
Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide des Landes