Surfers Guide to Surfing in France
Pumping beachies, 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.
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. Tops spots include;
The home of European surfing is Hossegor and Seignosse. Often packed out with travelling surfers; chilling, partying and packing out the line-ups. 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.
Lacanau Ocean (Gironde)
To the North, Lacanau and Le Pin Sec is a super-cool surf town, offering up a quality wave which is more beginner/intermediate friendly than La Graviere.
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.
Head to Mojo’s and Bat Cafe for all night fun.
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 in found under the right conditions. Unfortunately the water cold and the coast has a huge tidal range, which can make the majority of the breaks very temperamental. Top spots include;
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.
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!
Guest Author: Dale Crawford-Drake