France’s second biggest department, the Landes is renowned for its areas of natural beauty, its dunes and its culinary specialities. The department is also famous for its remarkable coastline. In these parts, surfing is the number one sport, but the Landes coast is ideal for a variety of other water sports. And the beaches are not the department’s only tourist attractions. The Forêt des Landes provides opportunities for hiking, cycling and horse-riding.
The natural heritage of the Landes
The Landes is steeped in nature. Take a trip around the local countryside and you will notice the same landscape: the intense green of the maritime pine forest followed by the white sand dunes and finally the blue of the Atlantic. As well as its famous resorts, the Landes has many sand dunes to explore, particularly the Dune du Pyla which is the biggest in Europe. You can also explore the Vallée du Leyre regional nature park with its rich collection of endangered species, such as the stage beetle and the European mink, or visit the Marquèze ecomuseum.
Not to be missed: a pleasant stroll through the pines of the Forêt des Landes where all the region’s secrets will be revealed for you.
The gastronomy of the Landes
Many farm products from the Landes have been awarded a quality label. The culinary specialities of the Landes are prepared with the following ingredients: free-range Landes duck, free-range Saint-Sever chicken, Landes poultry, sweet peppers, Chalosse beef, Adour kiwi fruit, Landes sand-grown asparagus, Tursan and Vins de Pays des Landes wines, pastis (a type of cake), Armagnac and Floc de Gascogne liqueur.
In the Landes, duck is particularly highly prized, as is goose. Duck and goose specialities include foie gras, preserved gizzards, thighs and wings, breast or rillettes (pâté) and graisserons (crackling). Dishes are usually served with potatoes cooked in duck fat or with cep mushrooms. The famous assiette landaise (a salad) is undoubtedly one of the region’s most famous dishes. It is a dish made from asparagus, pine nuts, corn, Bayonne ham, preserved gizzards, slices of smoked or dried duck breast and foie gras.