Dune du Pyla - A Really Big Sand Dune

What desert do you think this is?


There's water so, Africa? No.


There's forest too.


You can see what looks like a modern city on the horizon. So where it this big pile of sand?


There's a beach and para-sailing (?) so there's a thriving tourist industry. Are there seaside deserts in South America?


Not that I am aware.


It's the largest dune in its country and it's growing.

Photo, with permission: Anthony Penel
What is that underwater grid pattern centre right? [update below]*

I deliberately threw you off, I'm sorry. It's in France. This is Dune du Pyla and it is located 60 km (37-ish miles) from Bordeaux France it contains an estimated 60,000,000 m³, measuring around 500 metres (546-ish yards) wide from east to west and 2.7 km (1.67 miles) in length from north to south. Its height is 108 metres (354-ish feet) above sea level. The dune is a famous tourist destination with more than one million visitors per year.

The dune is considered a foredune, meaning a dune that runs parallel to a shoreline, behind the high tide line of a beach. The dune has been observed to move landward, slowly pushing the forest back to cover houses, roads and even portions of the Atlantic Wall.

Interesting side point: The Atlantic Wall was built by the Nazis between 1942 and 1944. It was a fortification for defending against an anticipated Allied invasion. It Extends from the southern border of France and Spain, all the way up to the Northern shore of Norway. And some of it is being buried by a huge sand dune.

*[Update: Mr. Penel, the photographer, has informed me that the underwater grid pattern is an oyster farm, commonly found along the French coast. He provided this link to another photo showing them in greater detail. Many thanks!]

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