Marquèze, all aboard for a day trip to a 19th century airial community in the Landes

So here we are at last, off on holiday with the kids and heading for the Atlantic coast in the Landes! On the way, we decide to take a detour via the Ecomuseum in Marquèze, in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park.

Minutes from the busy seaside towns and just an hour from Bordeaux and the Basque Country, we're about to be immersed in the day to day life of the locals as they lived back in the19th century, deep in the Grande Lande heathlands.
Marquèze, all aboard for a day trip to a 19th century airial community in the Landes

11.00am: Turn back the clock aboard this hundred year old train

Choo-choo! We climb aboard the old resin collectors train that leaves from the station in Sabres, across the pine forest to the airial in Marquèze.

Mum, what's an airial? An airial is a small hamlet made up of several typical Landes houses. It's where several peasant families lived with their barn, oven, well, sheep pen, chicken coop and everything else they needed.

11.10am Flashback to the time of shepherds on stilts

The spell seems to be working as the locomotive carries us back in time to another era. Before us, over 25 hectares of protected nature, dotted with half-timbered houses. We made some surprising encounters with the locals of this ancient lande: the "dauna" (housewives in vernacular Gascon), the cowherd, the cropsharer, the shepherd on stilts...

Marquèze, all aboard for a day trip to a 19th century airial community in the Landes
Marquèze, all aboard for a day trip to a 19th century airial community in the Landes

12.30am: Picnic break à la landaise

For lunch, we headed to the “Estanquet”, a typical country café where everyone shares plates of local produce in the shade of the Oak trees.

Right next door, the kids got to try out some of the traditional games: gascon shuffleboard, skittles, fun fair games… while we tried the famous local Pastis Landais brioche, straight out of the bakers' oven. A real treat with tea or coffee ;)

Marquèze, all aboard for a day trip to a 19th century airial community in the Landes

2.00pm: Adventure time!

Between the workshops, treasure hunts and guided tour, the day at the Ecomuseum flew by. The kids loved discovering spinning methods, old-fashioned cooking, soap making and even how school used to be.

Allow at least half a day for a complete visit of the Ecomuseum. Price includes entrance to the Pavillon de Marquèze and its exhibitions, return train journey to Marquèze, free or guided tour of the complex, all games and events on offer.

RELATED
ARTICLES 

We all have a little nostalgia for the 1950s, from the bright colours to the cane-pattern formica. Those memories bring...

An excellent fruit certified with two distinctive quality labels (Red Label and AOP) to enjoy to the full in preparation...

In Rochefort, discover the Hermione, biggest replica of a traditional ship ever built in France. And just next to it an...

Deep in the heart of the Landes, navigate/float down the Douze then on to the Midouze from Roquefort to Tartas, without...

The Atlantic Coast is studded with unexpected gems to discover, and the islands of the Charente are just some of them....