Situated in the north of Landes and the south of Gironde, to the east of the Atlantic coast and the banks of the Arcachon basin, the Gascon Landes Regional Nature Park covers at least 315,000 hectares. Planted by man in the 19th century, with the aim of reclaiming the marshes and stabilising the moving sands of the coastal dunes, the Gascon Landes forest, mainly made up of maritime pines, is the most extensive forest in Europe!
In the heart of the Landes forest you can explore the unmissable Grande Lande Ecomuseum, constructed on three sites which are open to visitors: the Marquèze Quarter, at Sabres, a part of the Grande Lande reconstructed as it was in the 19th century; the Luxey resinous products workshop, a former workshop where pine resin was distilled; the museum of religious heritage and popular beliefs, situated in the Church of Our Lady in Moustey. The Marquèze Quarter is only accessible by train from Sabres station, and is arranged around the airial – a vast lawn shaded by oaks - including mansions, smallholdings, sheep folds, bread ovens and a watermill, which show the agricultural, pastoral way of life in the 19th-century Landes countryside. Opposite Sabres station, the Marquèze Pavilion has a permanent exhibition for people to learn the history of the management of the Gascon Landes.
As to leisure sports, you have the choice between walking on woodland paths, cycling along the little forest trails, a mountain bike ride along signposted paths, a horse ride or a trip down the Leyre in a canoe-kayak...
Graine de Forêt, at Garein, is an entertaining and educational discovery centre, which has an interactive museum area dedicated to the Landes forest, a nature trail in the forest, and a nursery where everyone can sow a pine seed!
In Gironde, near Belin-Béliet, lies the departmental estate of Hostens, a must for those who want to recharge their batteries, relax or enjoy a walk. As well as a leisure centre, this Natura 2000-listed natural area of 600 hectares has five lakes with very pleasant green banks. An ideal place to take a nap on one of the two white sand beaches of Lake Lamothe, enjoy a refreshing swim, ride a canoe or go fishing, picnic quietly in the shade of the pines, discover the geological history, flora and fauna of the site by following a route lined with information signs, or go hiking, riding or cycling along the tracks and trails.
The Park House (La Maison du Parc), based in the old Belin-Béliet school building, provides the public with information and literature on the Landes of Gascony Nature Park.