The Basque Coast
The French part of the Basque Country is best known for the town of Biarritz, one of the birthplaces of surfing on the European mainland. Plage de la Cote des Basques is a long stretch of beach only a walk away from the town center. With its gentle, soft waves this spot is popular with longboarders and beginners. It can only be surfed at low tide when the beach is not submerged, needs easterly winds and has a surf school nearby. Further south and right on the boarder with Spain there is Hendaye Plage, the perfect beginner spot in the Basque Country and the only one that still works when the waves are closing out everywhere else.
The coastline between Biarritz and Bordeaux offers seemingly endless dune-backed beaches and is therefore a paradise for beginners from all over Europe. It is here that the highest density of surfcamps can be found between April and October which are often set up in the lush atmosphere of a campsite underneath pine trees and with crickets singing you to sleep in your tent under the stars. Whether it be Moliets, Vieux-Boucau, St. Girons or Mimizan – the spots will work through all tides and even with the smallest of a wave.
It gets a lot quieter once you enter the Celtic northern territories of France where shorties and red wine are replaced by steamers and whiskey. Though in the south you can literally pick a beginners camp on the map with your eyes closed, the north is characterized by anything but a straight coastline comprising cliffsides and reefs, rocks and currents, lighthouses and seals. To learn surfing head to the Crozon peninsula where you’ll be able to book a lesson at the beaches of La Palue and Kerloc’h. In southern Finisterre you can find a surf school at the popular beach break of La Torche near the town of Penmarch.Isn’t France what you are looking for? Try surfing in Morocco or try surfing in Portugal. You can always also go and surf in Spain
The Basque Coast
With its plentiful variety of surf breaks, the French Basque Country will be the last place to see a reef or point break before the not less than 200 km long coastline of classic, west-facing Biscay beachies begins. Saint-Jean-de-Luz has a large confined bay with a long right breaking wrapping around the jetty at its northern end. From here you can also see the big wave spot of Belharra about 2.5 km out to sea that only breaks at low tide and in the most massive of swells. Further north there is Lafitenia, a righthand reef break with a proper step in the take-off zone and the occasional barrel on the inside. It needs SE winds, works on all but too high tides and can get busy when it’s on. In the small harbour town of Guethary you’ll find a great selection of spots. To the north there is Parlementia, a fat wave with a short shoulder that gets pretty sizey and is inhabited by a group of old friends on their longboards and guns. To the south of the harbor there is a left reef break named Les Alcyons and its bigger outside section Avalanches, both needing SE winds and a low to medium tide to be at their best.
A regular venue of the World Championships every year in September, the area around Hossegor is probably the epicenter of surfing on the French Atlantic coast. Although the beaches of this region look like a straight line on a large map, there are fine variations that make for unique spots. South of Hossegor at Capbreton there are jetties that make it possible to surf even in strong winds and maxing swells. A bit north of Hossegor slumber the world-famous tubes of La Gravière, and with a big swell and clean conditions the outside named L’Epi Nord invites you to bring a big board and long legrope to conquer its huge righthanders.
The Quiberon peninsula in southern Finisterre represents one of the best areas to surf in Brittany and almost always has waves. The rights here are powerful and break over rock bottom but there is also a large beach named Port Bara that is easier to handle. North of Penmarch there is a headland with two spots either side of it: La Torche with its long lefts on the north side and Porzcarn with a good right at low tide.
1 = Not to good
2 = Ok
3 = Good
4= Very good
5 = Very, very good
In a bar
In a café
In a surfshop.