The Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne is a vast forest area of more than 315,000 hectares. It is located on the border of the departments of Landes and Gironde and next to the Atlantic coast. This is an ideal and stunning region for all but especially for those who enjoy peace and nature. The area includes the valleys of the rivers l'Eyre, le petite l'Eyre and le Grande l'Eyre. The forests ensure the air in the region remains very clean and thus combat the pollution. It is therefore safe for CNSRD (Chronic Non-Specific Respiratory Diseases) patients to happily but moreover safely explore the area.
Origin of the nature park
The Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne was originally an inland sea that had completely dried out and had unfertile land, it was not a place where people wanted to live. The area consisted of swamps and sand plains. In the 19th century a large-scale project was started to attempt to make the area more economically attractive. Part of this project included planting thousands of trees to define the boundaries of the dunes, drain the damp zones and develop a timber industry. This project resulted in the area becoming the largest planted forest in Europe with pine and oak trees.
When the area first started to become inhabited residents would earn their income through collecting resin. This source of income disappeared with the introduction of synthetic resin. The area now earns its income through timber construction and paper making.
The area was and still is sparsely populated. The park consists of 41 small municipalities with 60,000 inhabitants in total, the village of Salles is one of these municipalities.
The nature reserve was planted in the 19th century to revitalise the local economy. It was a success and it is still an important source of income. In recent decades, this park has also been labelled a protected natural area. The area is full of squirrels, birds, deer, boar and other animal species.
Parc Naturel during your vacation
There are various ways to view the park. The park counts over 40 walking routes including walks on well-travelled paths and routes that cross less accessible paths but which do take you deeper into the magical forest. You can relax in the shade whilst enjoying the beautiful nature. The park is also ideal for cycling enthusiasts. The park has good and well-laid out cycle paths. If you are eager for more action you can take a mountain bike on the special routes which wind through the nature. There is also the option to go horse riding in the park or to enjoy the views by boat, canoe or kayak.
There are spots in this nature reserve where many special birds like to be. If you are a bird lover you will thoroughly enjoy trying to spot these unique birds! The southern part of the park, around St. Martin de Seignanx, is the place to spot these beautiful birds. It is a large area of just over 95 hectares.
Art in the forest
In the large natural reserve you can expect to see forests, lakes and small villages. Interestingly there are also many art sculptures scattered around the area. A project was started in 2009 with the aim of combining art and nature. Just like nature, art is touchable. You can touch it, feel it, smell it and even walk through it. Artists who participate in this project often spend a fair amount of time living in the woods to become inspired. This project has led to the creation of the art route “La Forêt d’Art Contemporain”. Along this route there are many artworks that tower meters high. The projects goal is to reach around 100 artworks along the route. The route is well marked. Some artworks are located by the side of the road, others require you to explore deeper into the forest.