Do you want to go on a surf trip to France? Are you looking for great surf spots, then this is exactly what you need. After teaching surfing at the Atlantic coast for about 6 years now, I’ve put together a little guide for you, with all necessary information about three of my favourite spots. This is the ultimate surf guide for France: Beginners to advanced.
Before we start with the surf spots, here are some facts about my time here, so it is easier for you to judge whether this information is significant for you or not.
Time of traveling: Mai to October
Years of surfing experience: 9 years on and off; 3 years properly
Surf countries visited in total (worldwide): 8 (Australia, France, Spain, Bali, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, South Africa)
If you want to read the whole story about my time here, visit this post.
All right, now that we have all fundamental details, we can get into surfing in France.
I picked three of my most favorited spots here on the coast between Bordeaux and Biarritz. Why only there? Because I spend most my time here and can’t really judge about the rest of France.
The three spots I got to love most are Hossegor/Capreton, Biarritz and the coast between Mimizan and Hossegor.
Before we get to the single spots let me tell you some general facts about surfing in France:
Best time to go: September and October, though waves are there year round
Wetsuit needed: 4/3 in spring and autumn, 3/2 or spring suit in summer
Underground: mostly beach
Wind: Off shore in the mornings and evenings, during the day mostly medium to heavy onshore which makes conditions less good
Disclosure: The breaks I mention here are by far not all but those I liked and surfed most and therefore can say much about. Also, my surfing experience at those spots can vary to yours depending on time of the year, swell and experience level. So be aware of that.
Main breaks: 1 (Plage de Marabella)
Waves: Lefts and rights
Crowd factor: High
Level: Beginner to intermediate
There are more beaches in and around Biarritz, but I have just been to Plage de Marabella, so I’m just going to talk about that one.
As it is with all city beaches there are pros and cons to go surfing there.
A pro is definitely, that the beach is easy accessible. You can go there by public service. Unlike some other countries it is no problem to take your board on the bus.
A slight disadvantage is that city beaches are usually more crowded, though once you go before 1 PM you are fine. There are still surfers but it’s way less crowded then in the afternoons or weekends.
The break itself is smooth and not to shallow. Depending on the size of the wave and tides it can break heavier or mallow but it is never too steep or fast to make it.
It’s a perfect beach for beginners and intermediates. There are also surf schools so you can take lessons or rent equipment if required.
When going there you must be aware of one very important thing though. You can just surf from mid to low and low to mid tide. High tide is not surfable at Plage de Marabella because the water comes up to the barriers and the Shorebreak will make stairs unaccusable.
So, if you once don’t get out early enough you must wait until the tide goes out again.
All in all, though it is a great spot to go surfing when in the city.
Main Breaks: 4 (Plage de la Graviere, Plage Centrale, Plage Notre Dame, Plage de la Piste)
Waves: Lefts and rights
Crowd factor: High
Level: Beginners to advanced
This area is quite well known in the surfer world because one of the WSL CT tour events is held at Plage de la Graviere every year.
However, this most not be an obstacle. Of cause like Biarritz, Hossegor beaches are city beaches and therefore more crowded. Though when you pick the right time you can still get a quite empty line up.
I myself surfed only Plage de la Piste so far because it was the least crowded one. (I was there during competition)
But all breaks are awesome and everyone, from beginners to advanced will find a wave that suits his abilities. Plage de la Greviere is more barrelling, steeper and faster if big. Plage de la Piste in contrast will break smoother and slower even when big swell is hitting the coast.
The good thing with this break is as well, it works with a wide range of swell size and tides.
A perfect spot to go to when traveling with a heterogenic group of surfers.
Coast from Mimizan to Hossegor
Main Breaks: to many
Waves: Lefts and rights
Crowd factor: Low
Level: Beginners to Advanced
Well, what shell I say. That 100-km long beach is amazing.
There are so many peaks, I stopped counting. This fact makes the coastline a very uncrowded place to surfed, even during summer time and vacations. You just need to go a few hundred km and you’ll find an empty spot all to yourself.
As it is common for beach breaks you will find lefts as well as rights. Although the rights usually work better because of the lateral current that goes down south.
Depending on the wave size sometimes low tide works better and sometimes high tide but in general you can surf during all tides. However, I recommend for beginners to only go around low tide to get the most out of their session.
At low tide, it usually breaks faster and steeper. At high tide the wave rolls in more smooth and slow.
One disadvantage is here though, current gets very strong once the waves are big and at an approximate size of about 2m it is hardly surfable because the sandbanks won’t hold that power.
However, I won’t deny the possibility of finding a peak that still works.
So, you see, the broad range of breaks make this place perfect for all levels.
To sum things up, this part of France berries a lot of potential for all kinds of surfers. Whether you enjoy city life and want to go to Biarritz or prefer the quiet you get on the coast. Also for everyone that needs the surfer lifestyle is covered. Hossegor is the place to be.
Overall wave size is not to big but still decent especially during autumn.
Wind is usually onshore from early afternoon, which makes the morning hours’ price less.
Lastly, those three spots just being apart from each other by a maximum of 3h driving makes this part a perfect destination for a short Roadtrip along the coast.
Make sure to bring some things to do though, because especially in spring and summer there can be days without surf thanks to wind and lake of swell or too much swell.
I hope this was a little help for you and you have a great time surfing in France.
If you liked this format please share it with your friends and family and let me know if you want similar posts on other countries as well.