But that afternoon, we wanted to enjoy the lake and its surrounding natural environment in a different way. The Tourist Office suggested a boat trip accompanied by boatman from the Musée des Traditions et de l’Histoire (Museum of Traditions & History).
From the museum, you walk onto a pretty wooden bridge that disappears into the vegetation.
After a few metres, the lake appears. Enormous, with calm waters and a small island surrounded by boats, the instant impression is one of absolute serenity.
At the very modest pace of the electric motor used to avoid disturbing wildlife, a boat takes us fairly quickly into a narrow passage of foliage that turns out to be part of a green maze. And that’s the magic of this lake: who would have suspected the rich natural environment that exists here just a couple of oar strokes from civilisation?
The peat banks shift and crumble beneath dense vegetation. There’s not a sound to break the silence of this place.
The boatman then begins to tell us more about where we are: the Willows whose branches grow intertwined with Alder, the Glossy Buckthorn whose bark has medicinal qualities, but whose berries are poisonous, the Eagle Fern whose leaves are reminiscent of the raptor’s tail. We marvel at the tiny bright yellow flowers of the water lilies that spread in carpets across the surface of the lake.
The nature lesson also includes a lesson in local history, as well as an explanation of how the freshwater lakes formed, the traditional local trades once practised here, and how the people of the lakeside lived. It’s fascinating and fun at the same time, as the children’s questions pour out as fast as the boatman can answer them!
Once returned from the boat trip, we spend some time in the Musée des Traditions, which tells the story of what life was like here in the last century: the profession of gemmeurs who harvested the sap of the pine trees, Sunday best clothing, everyday household crockery, and much more…
The educational farm is also a goldmine for children: familiar farmyard animals are there and are very happy to be fed by hand.
Far from the crowds and the ocean beaches, this is a wonderful way of spending an activity-packed afternoon at Biscarrosse. And the kids come home delighted!
360° tour: panorama.museetraditions.com
Remember to book your boat trip 24 hours in advance at the Musée des Traditions et l’Histoire to be sure of availability.
What to do
The Musée des Traditions et de l’Histoire
From Biscarosse town centre, pass the bell tower and head straight for the lake.
Open every day except Sunday mornings in July and August from 9:30 to 7:00 pm. Open every day except Sunday and Monday from 2 pm to 6 pm between 2 May and 30 June. By appointment outside these dates.
Entrance: €5 for adults / €4 for children aged 5 to 12
216, rue Louis Breguet à Biscarosse (40). Tel.: +33 (0)5 58 78 77 37. www.museetraditions.com
The Circuit de Nabout is a two-hour educational round-trip on Biscarosse-Parentis Lake, and departs at 10 am, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
Fares: €10 for adults, €9 for children aged 5 to 12, and €5 for children under 5.
The Circuit de Laouadie round-trip on the smaller Biscarosse lagoon is slightly longer at two and half hours. Departs 2:30 pm, depending on the day.
Fares: €14 for adults, €12 for children aged 5 to 12, and €6 for children under 5.
The Circuit de Laouadie and Circuit de Nabout combined round-trip takes three hours: €22 for adults, and €12 or €5 for children.
Open throughout the summer season. Entrance: €1.
Where to sleep ?
L’Estanquet chambre d’hôtes and gîte. Located between the lake and the forest, these rooms are beautifully decorated with natural materials.
From €60 to €74 per night.
9 avenue de la Côte d’Argent, à Gastes (40).
Tel. 06 78 56 81 29.