Regional Natural Park of Landes de Gascogne

The Forest at its Purest

Everyone thinks they know the Landes forest because they passed it on holiday or because they learned to identify this large green triangle in school atlases. However, behind the rows of pine trees and the apparent uniformity of this vast territory lies a natural environment unique in Europe that holds many surprises in store.

From Sabres to Moustey

Sabres and the Ecomuseum of Marquèze

What better place to discover the soul of the Landes forest than the Ecomuseum of Marquèze? Head to Sabresstation to board the steam locomotive that will take you 150 years back in time in a short ten-minute journey. At the Marquèze station, everyone gets off. In the middle of the forest, a whole civilisation reappears on a clearing of 25 hectares made up of traditional houses, farms, fields and domestic animals, a mill, a bread oven, a sheep farm, antique furniture and tools. Here you are immersed in the rural moorland of the 19th century with its way of life, know-how and bucolic atmosphere. The Ecomuseum of Marquèze is open from June to November, offering many activities, exhibitions, shows, concerts and workshops. It is a must-see during your holidays in the Landes.


Commensacq and Leyre

From Sabres, reach the nearby village of Commensacq for a unique experience: the going down the Leyre river. This small river with its many channels flows into Arcachon Bay. Before arriving at its destination, it offers nearly 90 kilometres of waterways nestled in the forest, surrounded by vegetation. At the Mexico Leisure Centre, you can rent a canoe and set off on an adventure on the calm waters of the Leyre river, lined with sandy shores. Anything is possible, from a short trip of a few hours to an epic five-day journey to the mouth of the river. The Mexico Leisure Centre also offers many activities for all ages: treasure hunts, adventure courses, paintball, archery, mountain biking, and even grass skiing!


Labouheyre and its plane trees

The large square in Labouheyre is sheltered by eighty plane trees, planted more than a century ago: a unique ensemble in France which were recognised as Remarkable Trees in France in 2012. 

In the shade of this foliage, one of the most beautiful markets of the department is held every Sunday morning, where you can find oysters from Arcachon Bay, poultry from Chalosse and cheese from the Pyrenees. Labouheyre also hosts fairs, exhibitions and even a popular press cartoon festival in July. In the very heart of the village is the Peyre lake, with a beach and supervised bathing area, for those who do not want to travel the 30 km that separate the village from the ocean.

Labouheyre platanes

Solferino, the model farm

The small village of Solferino is a real curiosity. Napoleon III, who ordered the afforestation of the Landes and created the Eugénie-les-Bains spa resort acquired 8,000 hectares of moorland in 1857 to create a model imperial agricultural estate. 38 farmhouses were built according to a strictly symmetrical plan to house the workers. In addition, ten craftsmen’s houses were built opposite each other along the main street leading to the Church of Sainte Eugenie, surrounded by the town hall, the school and the presbytery, all of which were crossed by the new railway line that linked France and Spain. It was an agricultural utopia worthy of the conquest of the American West! This continued until the beginning of the 20th century, before the village returned to a normal agricultural vocation. But its buildings and symmetrical layout still bear witness to this curious adventure.


Morcenx, the country of springs

People in the Landes know Morcenx above all for its railway station, an essential stop on the Bordeaux-Hendaye line. This large village at the gateway to the forest is also worth a visit for its natural heritage, first and foremost its miraculous springs, which abound all around the village. A circuit guides you around these strange structures, sometimes lost in the middle of the forest, where Landes inhabitants used to come – and where some still come – to ward off bad luck.

In the heart of the village, the Domaine de Moré is home to a remarkable 17th century building, as well as a lake, picnic areas, walking paths and an arboretum. Perfect for a short break. Every year at the end of April, Morcenx hosts Festirues, a major street art festival that combines circus, theatre, song and comedy.

sources morcenx
Source miraculeuse

Arjuzanx, the natural oasis

Just a short distance from Morcenx is the Arjuzanx nature reserve, a vast 2,600-hectare area in the centre of which is a lake with exceptionally high water quality, bordered by a fine sandy beach much appreciated by local residents and tourists alike. You can also enjoy canoeing, sailing, stand-up paddle, pedal boats, or go for a walk along the discovery and hiking trails. Arjuzanx is also the largest French wintering site for common cranes. From mid-October to mid-March, thousands of migratory birds gather in the “dormitories”, where they find the ideal conditions to spend the winter. A sumptuous show to be discovered in the early morning or at nightfall.


Brocas, ironworks and conviviality

Brocas was an important centre of the Haute-Lande area thanks to its foundries which, from the first half of the 19th century, made the reputation of the village. You can visit the blast furnace, the workshop, the cart barn, the workers’ house and the former flour mill, which now houses the Musée des Forges, where this industrial past is retraced. Another particularity of Brocas is its Cercle des Travailleurs, an associative café typical of this corner of the Landes, where we still meet to get a bite to eat, chat, play cards and enjoy each other’s company. Get a taste of the atmosphere of this place, the hospitality and the warmth of the inhabitants of the moor. Around Brocas, lovely walks are offered to visitors; you can discover the lagoons, natural water holes, vestiges of the old Landes marshes.


Luxey, the iconoclast

At first glance, Luxey is the perfect example of a peaceful village of the Haute-Lande area, with its church, a miraculous fountain, the Petite Leyre river with its calm waters and welcoming banks, 18th century mud and half-timbered houses and the Cercle de l’Union. Luxey is also home to one of the emblematic works of the Forest of Contemporary Art, Hello Apollo, as well as a softwood workshop, which demonstrates the know-how of the inhabitants of the forest. But Luxey is also and above all known for the Musicalarue festival which, for the last thirty years, has lit up the region on the holiday weekend of 15 August. A unique festival combining street art and music in the heart of the forest. The musical programme in the small village is not limited to the festival, the Salle des Cigales hosts concerts and shows throughout the year.

Hello Apollo à Luxey
Hello Apollo à Luxey

Sore, located at the heart of the forest

Heading north to the village of Sore, one penetrates a little more into the soul of this natural and preserved territory. The Marais du Plata, in the heart of the Petite Leyre Valley, is one of the last witnesses of the vast expanse of marshland and deciduous groves that was the moorland before the planting of pines, with its peat bogs and rare and precious flora and fauna. In Sore, you can also visit the Porte des Anglais, a vestige of the city’s ancient fortifications in the 13th century, as well as Les Balcons de la Leyre, a path along the banks of the Petite Leyre passing by an orchard where the famous Sore apple tree, a local variety, flourishes. Leaving Sore in the direction of Moustey, the last stage of this journey, a small diversion is recommended to Pissos, where the leisure centre of Testarouman is located, on the banks of Grande Leyre, where you can practise canoeing, cycling, archery, orienteering, horse-riding or acrobatic courses in the trees.


Moustey, the town with three churches

On the border of the department is the village of Moustey. Its originality lies in the presence of two churches just a few metres apart. The churches of St. Martin and Notre-Dame have had their backs turned on each other in this way for almost 800 years. Moustey is an important stop along the Tours Route. A marker indicates to pilgrims that they have exactly 1,000 km to go to reach their destination. In fact, the village is often chosen as a symbolic starting point for those who want to try the adventure. Lovers of religious art will also appreciate the Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens church in Biganon, a district located just outside the village. It dates from the 11th century and houses recently discovered 14th century paintings. Just next to it is a miraculous fountain typical of the Haute-Lande area, dedicated to Sainte-Ruffine. Moustey is also where the Grande and Petite Leyre rivers meet, at the site of the Hourc d’Eyre. The perfect place to go canoeing on the river, or ride along its banks on horseback, on foot or by bike, on the many hiking trails that criss-cross the forest.