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Landes (department number 40) is located in the Aquitaine region in south west France. The department is the second largest in France after Gironde with an area stretching over more than 9000 km².and has an estimated population of 327,334 (approximate in 1999).
The capital of the department is the city of Mont-de-Marsan, with the large town of Dax within the immediate area.
The department is well known for the Côte d'Argent beach which is Europe's longest, attracting surfers to Mimizan and Hossegor each year.
A specialty of the area, in addition to the goose and duck is Landes pastis – a close relation of the apple tourtière of the Lot-et-Garonne. This is also armagnac country.
An interesting fact is that François Mauric, the Nobel Prize winning novelist, based his novels in the Landes.
Why you should visit Landes for your next holiday in France
Landes is a beautiful department to visit and is known for its large pine forests and long stretches or unspoilt sandy beaches.
The area offers good sailing, swimming and surfing along the coast and freshwater fishing in the lakes and rivers. Landes is excellent cycling country as it is a predominately flat, forested area which stretches along the coast from below the Bordeaux vineyards to Bayonne. The department’s fine beaches are backed by high dunes and a number of popular resorts.
The climate is a cross between Atlantic maritime and Mediterranean. Early springs, long hot summers with short, sharp thunderstorms and mild winters with soft drizzly rain.
What to see in Landes
Mont de Marson is the capital of the department and is ideally located at the crossroad between Bordeaux, Toulouse and Bayonne. There is a Spanish feel to its rich culture, in terms of food tradition, history and arts.
The city is also the centre of the ‘course landaise’, a form of bullfighting, but where the bull is not killed. The idea is for the Matador to vault over the horns and the back of the charging bull. This is not to be confused with the true Spanish corrida, which takes place in the city for a few short weeks around July.
Mont-de-Marsan has an impressive 14th Century keep with grand gardens, which is now used by the French military.
Dax is a pleasant spa town where hot springs bubble at a constant 64 C and the mud from the river Adour is used as a general soothing treatment for rheumatism and similar ailments.
It is the perfect destination if you are looking for a bit of rest and relaxation as it warm and peaceful. In addition to a promenade by the river, there is also a small casino and smart teashops.
Saturday has been market day in Dax since 1356.
This attractive seaside resort is surrounded by pine forests and has an active fishing port and more famously, a promenade built by Napoleon III.
A popular resort with surfers, Hossegor has generated a great deal of interest by way of the many artists, writers and architects who came here in the 19th Century. Every year the World Surf Championship bases part of its contest here.
Other towns of the area include:
How to get to Landes
With its long coastline opening out towards the rest of the world, Aquitaine lies at a crossroads between the routes linking Paris and Spain, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
There are daily connecting flights from Paris to the regional capital Bordeaux, direct regular flights from London and seasonal flights from a number of international destinations. A number of cheap airlines fly to regional airports such as Biarritz and Pau. BMI baby also fly to Bordeaux from Manchester and Birmingham.
Bordeaux to Mont-de-Marsan is approximately 128 kms and should take just over an hour and a half to drive.
Aquitaine is easily reached by main motorways or national routes. The journey from Calais to Mont-de-Marsan is about 1007 km and should take around 9.5 hours. Paris to Mont-de-Marsan is about 718km, around 7 hours.
Eurostar runs via the Channel Tunnel between London (Waterloo) and Paris (Gare de Nord) in 3 hours. Paris is linked to the high speed rail network (TGV). Departures for Aquitaine are from Gare Montparnasse station.
Rail tickets must be validated by using the orange automatic date stamping machines at the platform entrance. Failure to do this can result in a fine.