The dune has a volume of about 60,000,000 m³, measuring around 500 m wide
from east to west and 2.7 km in length from north to south. Its height is
currently 110 meters above sea level. The dune is a famous tourist
destination with more than one million visitors per year.
The dune is considered a foredune, meaning a dune that runs parallel to a
shoreline, behind the high tide line of a beach. The dune has been
observed to move landward, slowly pushing the forest back to cover houses,
roads and portions of the Atlantic Wall. To back this evidence of coastal
movement, maps from 1708 and 1786 both place areas with the name Pilat to
the south and off-shore of the current dune's location. The area where the
dune currently does not stand was referred to "Les Sabloneys" or the "New
Sands" until the 1930s when it was renamed by real estate developers as
the Dune of Pilat. Pilat originates from the Gascon word Pilhar, which
refers to a heap or mound.
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