Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains and its resorts in pine forests

Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains (in Gascon language “Lo Bocau Vielh”) is a quiet little resort town in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, in the southwest of France. Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains’ exact location is in the Landes de Gascogne area, which is adjacent to the Silver Coast of France.

Vieux-Boucau means “old mouth”. This name is easy to explain. Landes de Gascogne, a vast part of Gascogne, and the “land” word come from the French “landez”, which has one root with the Gallic word “land”, meaning “barren.” This area was called this name in the past, as it stretched for almost 230 km along the Bay of Biscay and was nothing more than vast marshes. They were formed due to the constant water accumulation since the plain between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees has a natural slope.

Landes is separated from the Bay of Biscay coast by sand dunes – the longest in Europe.

Landes de Gascogne remained a marsh until the end of the 18th century when it was decided to carry out land reclamation and then plant a forest. So the largest forest in Europe, grown by man, appeared in Gascogne. Up to 80% of the forest is pine, but there are also oak, elm, linden, chestnut, alder and other trees.

The region has become a popular destination for tourists since the beginning of the 20th century. One could get to the Silver Coast (Côte d’Argent) through Landes, which got its name from the poet and journalist Maurice Martin, who came here in 1905. It was he who first used this Silver Coast expression inspired by the silvery sheen of the Atlantic Ocean’s waves.

The Silver Coast belongs administratively to the departments of Gironde, Landes, and the Atlantic Pyrenees. The largest resorts are Arcachon, Mimizan, Biscarrosse, and Anglet. The beachfront stretches for 106 km. There are always waves here, so this place is very popular among surfers.

The Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains tourist destination was confirmed around the ‘30s. The town is known for tourist complexes built between the ocean and the forest today; there are fenced areas with small bungalows. You can find swimming pools and tennis courts in each complex, and there are some golf courses, and children’s sports grounds almost everywhere. The highlight is the scenic Mail André Rigal Walkway that leads to the lake. A real pearl!

Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains has three city beaches and one beach on the lake, whose name can be translated to “Sea Lake of Port Albert” (Lac marin de Port Albret). The lake is located just a few meters from the Atlantic Ocean and borders another resort town – Soustons.

The lake’s length is about 1.1 km, it’s width is about 1 km, and the area is 52 hectares. One of the lake’s features is the presence of an island more than 500 meters long, where many birds species live. Freshwater does not mix with the ocean one thanks to the dunes that separate the lake from the ocean.

You can walk along the path (about 4 km) around the lake. The walk takes about 30 minutes. The tour can also be done by bicycle – this type of transport is especially popular here and it is easy to rent. Many shops offer all types of bicycles from mountain bikes to tandems. There are many bike trails in the area that are not for cars.

Here you can also rent a boat or catamaran, kayak, canoe, and do windsurfing as well. Horse riding is also popular…

We should take about Lake Sustons separately. This is a huge freshwater lake, fed by various rivers and springs. There are two nature reserves near the lake in Seignosse with rich and varied wildlife. It covers 380 hectares. This is a quiet place, ideal for those who like to relax by the water. Activities include fishing, sailing, kayaking, and canoeing. There is the 9-hole Pinsolle Golf Course around the lake too. There is a handicraft market beginning at 19:00 every Wednesday in July and August in the town of Vieux-Buques-les-Bains. This tourist event allows you to get acquainted with local crafts in a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere.

Shopping

Markets operate in almost all the cities along the Silver Coast on weekends in the summer. You can buy not only fresh fruits and vegetables, pastries, cheese, and wine, but also summer clothes and accessories, including beach ones here.

Restaurants

Our recommendations include: Le Bistrot (French cuisine), Le Tivoli, Marinero (French and European cuisine), Côté Sable, and Restaurant L’Odice (seafood).  In Sustons: Captain Bar (great view of the Atlantic) and Le brooms (French and Australian cuisine).

How to get there?

By car:

From Bordeaux: A63, D16, D50, D652, D17

From Bayonne: D810, A63, D152, D79, D652

From Toulouse: A64, D33, D652

Main information

Area: 4.25 sq. Km

Coordinates: 43 ° 47′14 ″ N 1 ° 24′11 ″ W

Population: 1,636

Languages: French, Gascon

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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