France - A Guide to the Best Surf Spotslatest issue of AWAYN magazine
Tom Surf in Lacanau
Lacanau is also a top surfing destination, a famous seaside resort on the Atlantic Coast. Its vast sandy beaches, popular surf spots with board sports fans, and particularly festive and lively summer atmosphere make it a popular holiday destination. While the beaches and waves attract many holidaymakers eager to enjoy the ocean, Lacanau also appeals to green country lovers, with its pine forest dotted with bike trails, and unspoilt lake ideal for sailing, windsurfing, fishing or canoeing.
Outside the city there are a handful of surfing waves dotted along the coast, but inside there is a large stretch of beach surrounded by sandbars and jetties. Consistent surfing, easily checked from the boardwalk at Plage Centrale before choosing a session at La Nord, La Sud or Super Sud among 14 km of ideal beaches with a W-NW swell of medium size. Handles more size thanks to the rock jetties ' deep scalloped baines that are there to hold the sand in place. Every bit as good as Landes, especially in summer when in the W windswells it is often bigger. Rapidly peeling low tide runners or tapering mid-to-high tide shories in the rips are sometimes separated by a deep trench, or spin all the way.
Mimizan Plage has 10 kilometers of fine sandy beach with waves rolling through its length. There are 4 recognized surf spots–La Garluche, Goëlands, Mouettes and Plage Sud and 6 safe swimming areas with lifeguard surveillance are available in the summer.
Surfers from all stripes will find a suitable wave here. Next to the mouth of the river Courant de Mimizan, the sandbanks tend to break up the surf, creating a sheltered spot. Throughout the year, move up or down the beach away from the river and the Atlantic Ocean rolls in uninterrupted waves.
July and August might well be the best time of the year for a surf trip to Mimizan. If you want to live the surf lifestyle every evening with lovely waves, plenty of sunshine and parties, you need to be here in the summer. Go to La Jamaïque on Rue Casino for the best mojitos in town. Summer is also the best surfing time of the year. The surf schools are throwing open their doors and the nice and warm water, and you can make great progress with a few lessons.
May and June and September and October are best if you'd rather have a quiet lineup than an après-surf beach party. The water temperature ranges from 15 to 20 degrees and the surf is generally slightly larger and consistent.
If you are a surf expert, then you might already have heard of the birthplace of surfing in Europe. Otherwise, let me give you a taste of what awaits if you have the opportunity to visit the Basque country, in France.
30 km of coastline that concentrates all the sensations of the best waves of the world.
Sounds exciting ?
The configuration of the Basque Coast is made in such a way that no matter the direction of the wind, the size of the swell, the tide or the time of the year, there is always a surfing sport working… you just have to find them. And that's why I'm here, to guide you!
The coastline of Anglet is composed of 11 beaches, extends over 4.5 kilometers and has around 10 surf spots on its own. A coastal and pedestrian promenade runs all along the beaches.
You'll find plenty of surf shops for your gear and some bars breathing the surf culture for post-session drinks.
To name a few, The Cavaliers beach is famous for its barrels and the power of its waves, La Barre is surrounded by breakwaters and conditions need to be moderate to heavy swell for the waves to start breaking with any power. The Chambre d’Amour beach is the southernmost spot of Anglet and the waves are often smaller and therefore more appreciated by beginners.
Spots: La Barre, Cavaliers, the Ocean, the Dunes, Madrague and Petite Madrague, Marinella, Corsaires, Sables d’Or, Club, Chambre d’amour.
In the heart of the Basque country, between ocean and cliffs, Biarritz has become a destination of choice for all the surfing lovers. More than a sport, surfing is a way of life. From the sea, you can admire the basque architecture, the spanish coast and the mountains.
La Côte des Basques is the most famous surf spot of the city. Like all beach breaks, the sandbanks move and the spot is constantly changing. Be careful to always surf at low tide because at high tide, the waves are breaking on the rocks and the exit can be complicated!
After your session, have a drink at “Etxola bibi”, a bar overlooking the sea and offering one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen!
Spots: Grande Plage, Côte des Basques, Marbella, Miramar, Midaly.
Less than 10 minutes driving from Biarritz, you will discover the beautiful city of Bidart. Between ocean and mountains, Bidart has preserved its wildness and family atmosphere. The beach of Bidart Centre offers some left and right peaks with very good waves if you arrive while the tide goes up.
Uhabia is right next door and is also a nice beach with enough peaks to handle the crowds.
Spots: Uhabia, Erretegia, Bidart Centre, Ilbartiz, Pavillon Royal.
This quaint little town is a home for reef waves, a place for longboard, shortboard and thrill seekers.
Cenitz offers a selection of waves that break on a rocky bottom and can only really be surfed at high tide and Parlementia allows experts to have fun in times of heavy swell.
Spots: Alçyons, Parlementia, Cenitz.
Surrounded by three groynes, Saint Jean de Luz is a harbour city appreciated by all.
The city holds two must-see spots: Erromardie for the the length of the waves and Lafitenia will delight the most experienced ones.
With its 3 kilometers of beach, it is the very last beach before the Spanish border. Hendaye is a paradise for beginners. It has a large bay with countless different peaks wich allows everyone to appreciate their session.
Indeed, its north orientation and its sandy bottom offers smaller and more accessible waves.
More ADVENTURES highlights
Tom Surfing in Hossegor
Southwestern France's seaside town of Soorts-Hossegor is a world-renowned surfing mecca on La Côte d'Argent, Europe's longest uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach. Surfing is the main attraction for both visitors and locals, but anyone can take advantage of the active lifestyle and amazing landscapes of the area.
The fast, hollow waves of Hossegor draw an ever-increasing number of surfers from all over the world. Hossegor's beach spans three kilometers, and while it's only one stretch of sand, there are four very distinctive surf spots. South of Estagnots, Les Culs Nus bridges the gap between the beachbreaks of Seignosse and the legendary La Gravière Hossegor tubes. La Nord can hold up to 6 m of shape on its day. La Sud is the most attractive spot for beginners.
The waves are small and fun in July and August, but the main peaks are packed with traveling surfers right along the beach. You'll still get a nice punchy wave at La Graviere and Les Culs Nus when it's on, but when you're most likely to get a flat spell, it's those peak summer months. But you have to be really unlucky to get no waves even at the summer height during a week's holiday in Hossegor.
Hendaye is probably the best place to learn to surf along the southwest coast of France. If you are looking for rapid progress in safe conditions, the huge beach and mellow wave are perfect. And in town there are lots of decent surf shops and surf schools.
Hendaye is sheltered from the wind and large swells, and the waves are on average half the size they are further north in more exposed spots. And the beach is huge, so there's plenty of room to learn without the local pro wiping out.
Hendaye is the perfect playground for beginner surfers, the waves are rarely too big and the shallow beach takes the grunt out of the swell that allows you to surf under a wide variety of conditions. In fact, when the swell is too small, like less than a meter, the only time you can't surf in Hendaye is. There are lots of surf schools in Hendaye, including some operating throughout the year, with board hire and professional instruction to take you all the way to cut-back perfection from your first sketchy pop-ups.
Hendaye also has a lot to offer to advanced surfers. Its sheltered location in the Bay of Biscay armpit means you're going to get clean waves here when it's too big or blown out anywhere else along the coast. There is a spot called Les Deux Jumeaux at the northern end of the beach (named after the 2 big rock stacks just off the beach) that will love longboarders and SUP riders.
Expert surfers will want to check out a reef break from the headland just north of Hendaye known as Vanthrax. It's a huge barrel left over a rocky bottom hundreds of meters from the shore that works only in a particularly large swell.