Until middle of the 19th century, this area reaching from the basin of Arcachon in the north nearly to the town of Mont-de-Marsan in the south, was largely a landscape of "lande" - that is, moorland. The main economic activity was the rearing of sheep, and cultivation of rye and millet.
Then, in 1857 the Emperor, Napoleon III, decided that the area could be more profitably used to grow pine trees, and the Landes forest was created. Today it covers 90% of the park, and is the largest forest in Europe.
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