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Paragliding over the Dune du Pilat: there’s nowhere else I’d rather be

Pierre Malbet has been paragliding over Europe’s highest sand dune for 15 years. Four years ago, he launched Pyla Parapente, so that he could share the joy of flying over the dune with adventurous visitors. Here, he tells us his story.

I’ve been flying over the Dune du Pilat ever since I learned to fly solo, so around 15 years. I’ve taught paragliding all over France, but I’ve always wanted to come home, to Nouvelle Aquitaine, to grow old in the place I was born. Nature, wide-open spaces... It’s a unique region and a place that makes me feel good, that makes me feel like I’m right where I should be. Around four years ago, I launched Pyla Parapente, and we were given permission to fly over the Grande Dune estate (Galouneys, to be precise), which is a public space.

"Fly straight from the beach"

What’s so great here is that you can enjoy the beach and paragliding. If you come as a couple, one can go paragliding while the other tops up their tan. However, it isn’t a good place to learn paragliding as flying here requires delicate manoeuvres, so it’s for experienced pilots only. That’s why we take our clients up on tandem flights.

"An amazing range of landscapes"

In this unique location, we can offer them views of an amazing range of landscapes: from the vast forest that stretches as far as the eye can see, to the giant sand dune, 100m tall, that changes with the weather. Sometimes the beach disappears and the sea nibbles at the dune. Other times, we get perfect weather and can fly high enough to take in the whole bay.

Of course, we have to change our plans to fit these changeable conditions. The weather is in charge, and it isn’t possible to fly every day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Getting to the Dune du Pilat

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