Pumping beaches, big-wave tow reefs, rocky outcrops; France has it all. If you are a European surfer, the land of cheap wine and strong cheese is just a cheap flight away. Some of the best waves, lie in the South West Corner of France. But there’s more! We might even surprise you with a short surf-movie about a great surf spot in France, at a location where you might not even expect it! Read on and let us know what you think of this article with the best surf spots of France.
In case you’d like to have a view at all surf holidays in France we have on offer, we won’t stop you. You can also read on about the best surf spots of France.
Surfers Guide to Surfing in France
France has a lot of surf spots and in order to give you a good overview, we’ve listed the best surf spots of France in a structured manner. We distinguish between certain regions, including the following:
- Surfing in Normandy and Britanny
- Surfing in Pays-de-la-Loire and Poitou-Charente
- Surfing in Gironde
- Surfing in Les Landes
- Surfing in Basque Country (the French part)
- Surfing the Mediterranean Coast of France
Before going into these amazing surf spots in France, we’d like to point out to you our Surf Guide: Surfing in France, where you’ll read about all that makes France an amazing destination for your next holiday, which will be – if you’d ask us – a surfing holiday.
Surfing in Normandy and Britanny
The surf scene in Northern France contrasts heavily against the South West. Much less developed, it offers a more relaxed vibe yet a more varied coastline. Again, open to exploration- there are many hidden gems that can reap you the session of your life when found under the right conditions. Unfortunately the water is cold and the coast has a huge tidal range, which can make the majority of the breaks very temperamental. Top spots include
Wissant, La Mauvaise Grève, Pentrez, Dossen, La Torche, Quiberon and Baie des Trépassés.
Surfing in Normandy
Just south of Calais you will find the surf spot Wissant. This beach break offers you both left- and righthanders and is generally not very crowded. Wissant is one of the French places closest to the UK’s mainland. Obviously the United Kingdom is blocking off a lot of the waves or its power, making Wissant not a world-class surf spots. The surf here can of some sort of quality but you won’t likely find the circumstances that will be for the more advanced surfers. It’s mainly beginners to intermediates surfing this surf spot. One of the great advantages, is that it’s very easily accessible as it’s right next to the tunnel from Dover to Calais.
Surfing in North-Brittany
North of Brest, close to the town of Morlaix, you will find the surf spot Dossen. Dossen offers a beach-break with both right and left-handers. This spot works best around high-tide and the swell can be best at north-west (with the wind coming from the West) or the swell from the south-west with a south-wind. This spot is generally very quiet throughout the week where it can certainly attract some crowdes over the weekend.
La Mauvaise Grève
This break, close to the beautiful town of Moguériec, works best from low to high tide, being beginner-friendly at low tide. At high tide the reef breaks requires more experience as it even holds some threats.
The surf spot Pentrez, close to the town of Sain-Nic, is located on a long-stretched beach. The north end of the beach is called Pentrez, which flows over in Plage de Lestrevet towards the south, totally distancing about 4 kilometers. Here you’ll find another beach break that works generally best for beginners. In case you’re a novice surfer and looking for the best surf spots for beginners in France, you can check out the article.
Surfing in South-Brittany
Baie des Trépassés
This Bay, at one of the most westerntips of the French mainland, offers a good beachbreak. Ocassionally surfers will encounter some barrels even at Baie des Trépassés but generally the beach breaks itself can already attract quite some crowd, especially over the weekends.
The wide variety of waves here, which are working at a lot of the time, makes this surf spot suitable for surfers of all levels.
Just out the front of this ‘Bay of Death’ (due to the sometimes icy water temperatures) you will find the small island of Ile de Sein, where there are a number of reefs present.
Surfing in La Torche is a must for everyone who’s visiting Brittany for a surf experience. It’s likely the first spot that comes to mind when going to this region in the North of France. When the conditions are in your favor, La Torche can provide you with some long rides. The current can be somewhat strong but in general this surf spot is accessible to either beginners or more experienced surfers.
One of Brittany’s more consistent spots, this break offers a few different set-ups. A short, fast right can wedge up but quickly flattens out as it hits the ‘La Ascenseur’ (the Lift), a rip which can transport the intermediate surfer back out in to the line-up. On the other hand, a racy left which runs down the beach can be rip-able but often sections out. This area is an excellent base point for your travels to Brittany’s beautiful coastline. There are many class breaks both to the North and South that will be less populated than the main break at La Torche.
La Torche has a beach break which works best from mid to high tide.
South of the cities of Lorient and Vannes, you will encounter the beautiful peninsula of Quiberon. The highway D768 takes you all the way to the most southernpoint of the peninsula, with beaches on both sides.
The most famous place for surfing is La Cote Suavage, facing the southwest. Among the surf spots you will find here, Port Bara is the most popular one, with certainly possibilities to get barreled. This makes this spot a little less suitable for beginning surfers. The best conditions for surfing are low to mid-tide.
Surfing in Pays-de-la-Loire and Poitou-Charente
Les Conches – including Bud Bud and La Sauzaie, Sauveterre, Côte Sauvage, Phare de la Coubre
Surfing in Pays-de-la-Loire
The regio of Pays-de-la-Loire exists, when regarding the coastline, of Loire-Atlantique in the north and Vendée towards to south. We will encounter a number of great surf spots here.
The beach break of Les Conches provides both right and left-handers and can cater surfers of all levels. However, make sure to either check the surf-apps or ask some of the local surfers as this is a spot that can be pumping when the swell is on – up to a certain extend. Don’t expect anything too crazy. Les Conches exists of the busier spot La Sauzaie in the north and the more quiet Bud Bud in the south.
La Sauzaie is a reef break that goes towards the right. This break is advised to only surf if you already have experience as there are rips and you need to be aware of rocks too.
Curious to find out the best surf camps of France?
Surfing in Poitou-Charente
In Poitou-Charente the most well-know place might be La Rochelle and people into cheese will ring a bell when hearing about Rochefort. This cheese would well go together with a glass of cognac, named after a town that’s not far away either. Anyway, back to the surfing in Poitou-Charente.
The beautiful island of Ile d’Oleron offers a beach break that can work all year round. You can reach this island by a bridge, just off the town of Marennes. This surf spot ideally would be visited when the swell is coming from the west-southwest. One of the great things about this surf spot, which comes with both left and right handers, is that it hardly gets too crowded.
The Côte Sauvage has something that you’ll remember. It’s a beautiful lighthouse, located just between where the woods end and the beach is starting. It’s widely regarded as one of the most iconic lighthouses of France and it would be a great reason for you to visit this beach.
The Côte Sauvage offers several sand banks, creating fun conditions for surfers of several levels. It’s certainly not the easiest surf spot of France but it’s also not like Hossegor. This beach breaks comes with both left and right handers and generally does not get busy at all. There are rips that you certainly would have to take into account here so do not go surfing by yourself, especially if you’ve never been to Côte Sauvage before.
Surfing in Aquitaine
The Aquitaine region offers superb consistency, especially during the winter months. September and October can be the optimum time to visit, as the powerful Hurricane swells and huge low pressures track across the Atlantic serving up long range, heaving beach break waves. France is plagued by West/North West dominant winds during the winter, yet Spring, Summer and Autmun, often see a calmer, Easterly dominating wind which can light up the entire coastline. This stretch of beach, known as the Cote d’ Argent is the longest in Europe, boasting over 140miles of golden sand. So yes, as your probably thinking, its completely open to exploration. One can be rewarded with empty, groomed ocean-swells by hopping on a bike, and checking out the cycle tracks that stretch the entire coastline.
The info about surfing in Aquitaine below is split up between surfing in Gironde, surfing in Les Landes and surfing in the French Basque Country.
Surfing in Gironde
In Gironde we will point out the surf spots Montalivet, Le Pin Sec, Carcans and Lacanau, all beaches that are basically sharing the same coastline.
Montalivet is quite a touristy surf spot with even a nudist beach to the south of the town. During the summer the beach can get very crowded given all the campings and surf camps around. Besides the surfing, there’s much more to do, given the several local markets and the many shops around.
When surfing ‘Monta’ you’re best off when entering the water from low to mid tide with the swell direction west (could also be north or southwest).
Le Pin Sec
The widestretched beach of Le Pin Sec is known for its beach-bunkers. It’s also known for being situated in basically the middle of nowhere. When driving towards the coast from Naujac-sur-Mer, you will end up at Plage du Pin Sec, one of the broadest beaches of France. Just before getting to that beach, you will come across a camp side and a handful of touristy restaurants and nothing else.
Le Pin Sec is a beach break that can work throughout the entire year. It’s considered to be fairly consistent too. When a slight off-shore wind with swells coming from the west, this spot works best. When surfing here during high tide you will be most likely finding the best waves, both left and right handers. This spot is great for sunset surfing too. Just make sure you are with at least one other person who knows this beach, as the rips can get pretty nasty.
Nestled in between Hourtin Plage and the famous Lacanau, we will find Carcans. This place is certainly more quiet than Lacanau even though summers still can get pretty busy. But in general, you will not be lining up for the waves here and even though Lacanau has more of a name, Carcans also can get some interesting waves. This beach break works best with a swell coming from the west and wind blowing off-shore (like most of the surf spots around this part of France).
Popular in the summer months (especially when Sooruz Lacanau Pro is on-6 star event), this is an excellent place to go camping, partying and get some lovely beach-break waves.
There are many sand bars that stretch to the North and South of the town. Obviously, those in front of the promenade are the busiest-but not necessarily the best. The banks can shift, with some producing hollower waves than others. Pack your towel, sunscreen, lunch and a bottle of water; grab your board and take a 15 minute walk up the beach and you will no doubt find a quality sand bar with little to no-one on it.
Surfing in Les Landes
Les Landes is one of the most popular regions to go surfing in France. We tell you all about the best surf spots in Les Landes, including Mimizan, Saint-Girons, Moliets, Vieux-Boucau, Hossegor and Capbreton.
To many people, Mimizan would be the first name to pop up when asking them for surfing in France. No doubts this very popular surfing destination has to be included in this list of best surf spots in France. Mimizan is located within an hour driving from Bordeaux and has much more to offer than just surfing. There are several surf accommodations here as well as a variety of surf schools. And we know why.
Mimizan’s a beach break suitable for surfers of all levels. Summer’s the busiest season for this French town, even though that’s really the only period when there might not be waves. However, you normally are sure of some kind of waves here throughout the entire year so do not worry too much. The city is kind-of separated by a river that’s debouching into the ocean, making the conditions for surfing even more exciting.
Saint-Girons plage is also a very touristy summer destination. The exposed beach is getting busier with surfers every year, without it being too crowded – yet. Like most of the beaches in France facing the west, wind is best when non-existing or coming from the east. The beach break offers both left and right handers.
Moliets might have the largest density of surf camps – maybe even in the world! On the two main camp sites in this French town, you will find as many as 16 surf camps. However, most of them, surely the ones that offer a bit more comfort, will have its own identity and you won’t be bothered by other tourists.
Moliets is – when asking us – not the most ideal surf spot for beginners as there’s quite some current from time to time, including a rip or two. The huge sandy beach can also get pretty windy, making it harder to learn how to surf. However, most beginners visit during June through to September and these are the months when surf’s the easiest. Outside these months, the surf gets quite bigger from time to time, requiring a fair bit of experience.
Vieux-Boucau le Bain is just a 30 minute drive from the airport of Biarritz. The beach might look similar to that of Moliets but turns out to be much more beginner-friendly. The current here is generally much less, with waves that are less choppy. Around the mouth of the river, there can be rips which have to be taken into account.
Vieux Boucau, like Moliets, also gets really busy during the summer, normally creating a nice surf-vibe on and around the beach.
The town of Hossegor might offer the most well-known surf break of France. It’s not without a reason that the World Surf League, among several other organizations, host a yearly contest here. Hossegor litteraly attracts surfers from all over the world. There are many world-class beach breaks here, waiting to give you a beating and crease your favourite stick.
La Graviere is the most famed French break. Although a beachie, it serves up many dredging rights that will give you lots of tube-time in the right conditions. Timed wrong, and you will get a heavy close-out on your head and stumble up the beach with a broken ego.
Surfing in the French Basque Country
The Basque Country is also part of our surf guide with the best surf spots in Spain. However, here in this article we are discussing – obviously – the French part. The best breaks are: Biarritz Grand Plage, Plage des Basque, Chambre d’Amour, Lafiténia and Hendaye.
When refering to surfing in France, a lot of people will mention Biarritz. Not surprisingly, this is one of the country’s most famous and well-known surf spots and it’s also one of the best surf spots of France.
Biarritz has several city beaches, basically offering suitable conditions whole year round to different abilities. During the months of July and Augusts, waves are generally small and fun, creating the ideal circumstances for beginners. On the shoulders of that high season, you will encounter conditions for more advanced surfers. Especially in the autumn, as well as during the winter, waves can get of considerable size, making Biarritz one of France best surf spots.
In the city, the surf spots include Le Miramar and La Grand Plage. South of the old harbour (Port Vieux) you will find La Côte des Basques and more towards the south, there’s Marbella and La Milady. That last one has a couple of reefs, offering a different type of break than the waves closer to the city centre.
One of the northern beaches of the famous Saint Jean-de-Luz, not far north off the Spanish border, we’ll find the beach Lafiténia. Saint Jean-de-Luz is a picture perfect beachtown, typically French but also very Basque.
Lafiténia offers a righthand pointbreak that works best from low to mid tide when there’s a little offshore breeze. The rocky bottom makes you require some surf skills as this is not the best surf spot for beginners.
Hendaye is basically the border town before driving into the North of Spain. The longstretched sandy beach offers you two spots: Sokoburu and Le Casino. Both these spots could well offer the conditions for beginners to intermediate to even advanced surfers. The beach breaks will break both to the left and right.
Surfing the Mediterrenean Coast of France
The ‘Med’ is known for a great coastline, amazing for holidays and relaxations. However, not as many people know that it can have some surfing too. We’ve highlighted two spots, in the South of France that can actually be great for surfing.
Narbonne is nestled in between the cities of Montpellier to the north and Perpignan to the south. This beach only gets waves occasionally, which could be once a month or a couple of more times every four weeks during autumn and winter. In case you have quite some experience in surfing, you won’t be having fun here very likely.
Gruissan is just some kilometers away from Narbonne and conditions aren’t very different here. When the swell is coming from the east and wind is blowing off-shore, some tiny waves actually might be witnessed here.
The idea that there’s never any surfing in the Mediterranean just isn’t true. Have a look at the amazing video below.
The best surf camps of France
France has many surf spots but also many great surf camps.
Have a look at the surf camp mentioned or check out the grand overview with surf holidays in France.
Helpful Hints about surfing in France
Take a phrase book-even though English neighbours, the France have little time for those that assume everyone speaks English, although around the Hossegor/Biarittz region they probably do!
Watch out for the long, cross-shore drift that will pull you out of position when there’s any size. Shop and camp at the Municipal-This is generally the cheapest. Enjoy free tasters at weekly markets. Red wine does not improve your surfing!
One of the authors: Dale Crawford-Drake