beaches are best?
nearly 200 miles of quality surf, from Soulac at the Pointe de Grave to Hendaye on the border of Spain, we
are not going to list all the surf breaks along this wonderful
a really good guide, buy The Stormrider Guide to Europe or check out reviews on the surf forecasting
Surf Report (local reports, in French) , or Magic
Seaweed (in English).
West of Bordeaux, Lacanau is the best-known surf location on the
Gironde coast and has been hosting professional contests since 1979.
Surf is consistently good here.
Lacanau is just one spot in the middle of a long sandy beach, stretching
for nearly 100km, blessed with quality surf right the way along.
All these waves are beach breaks – meaning waves that break
over sand (rather than over rocks or reef), and they break throughout
the day. Its proximity to Bordeaux makes it a very
popular spot, and you can check the surf from the car park.
huge lakes at Lacanau also provide great opportunities for other
watersports, including Lacanau Kite-surfing,
and Lacanau Wake-boarding.
If rip currents were not
enough, on this coastline surfers should also look out for scores
of naturists peppered along the beaches.
also recommend any of the following beaches, listed from north
to south as you travel down the coast. All
of these waves break over sand, throughout the day.
Soulac-sur-Mer by the Gironde river is a good option
when everywhere else is closed out. Good for beginners as the
tide starts coming in.
is also very popular for skim-boarding, land-yachting, and sport-kiting.
Gurp (near Soulac-sur-Mer) is a good choice when it’s
too wild everywhere else. A good spot for beginners as the tide
starts coming in, with a surf school right by this beach.
Montalivet-les-Bains has a beach popular with naturists,
and offers floodlit
night-surfing in the summer, as well as a good choice of nightclubs.
You can check out the quality of the waves from the car park.
Hourtin-Plage is popular, but can
become crowded. If so, look for quieter spots up and down the
beach, by following the mountain-bike paths through the forests.
Carcans-Plage offers a quieter alternative to Lacanau,
and many would argue that the waves here are better.
Lacanau and Arcachon is La Jenny. You
can get to this break by turning off the D3 at Lauros, north of
the nudist camp entrance, then take the long walk from the car park.
We’ve listed it here in case you find the other beaches too
busy (or in case you fancy naked surfing, of course). Then head
south for le Porge and Grand Crohot and
the exquisitely-named la Vache Morte.
The bay of Arcachon gives light relief from the surf – a
calm inlet with the picturesque seaside town of Arcachon, and
the exclusive Cap Ferret. This is France’s oyster-growing
capital. Great for food lovers and shoppers. Of note here is Europe’s
tallest sand dune – Pyla – which gives great views of the
coast and the bay.
There is good surfing along the Atlantic side of the peninsula
of Cap Ferret, but watch out for the powerful
currents – especially when the tide is going out.
Recommended breaks are at Cap Ferret, Le Truc Vert and Le Petit
The best-known surf spot on the whole coast, in fact in Europe, is Hossegor.
At Hossegor the swell is aided by the presence of the Fosse de Capbreton,
a deep underwater canyon located 2km offshore.
Hossegor breaks to look out for include Les Estagnots, Les Culs Nuls (“The
Bare Bums” – Hossegor’s naturist beach) the
mighty La Gravière (for tube-riding) and
L’Epi Nord. The last two are strictly for those who know
what they’re doing, which rules us out. It goes without
saying to be mindful of strong currents.
Being such a renowned location, Hossegor can get busy, so be prepared
to wait your turn.
But Hossegor is one spot amongst many, all offering amazing beach
breaks right the way along the Côte Landaise, from Biscarrosse
Plage (just south of Arcachon) all the way to Labenne and Ondres just to the north of Bayonne. You will find surf along this coast at all times of the
day and all
of the waves break over sand.
south, down the coast from Arcachon, Biscarrosse
Plage is great but can be busy. South of Biscarrosse
Plage is a military zone, where access is strictly forbidden.
Plage is the next available spot and is much quieter
than Biscarrosse. There
are several spots between Mimizan Plage and Moliets, including Contis-Plage, Cap de l’Homy, and naturists’
favourite St-Girons Plage.
Moliets-Plage is a great spot. If you fancy it, you can actually paddle down
the Huchet river from Leon lake, ending up at the best break around.
Vieux-Boucau and Port Albret are both very convenient from
the D652 coastal road.
In Capbreton, access the beach between
the jetties. With smaller swell than Hossegor, this is better
for beginners, but gets very crowded when Hossegor is too big.
South of Capbreton, ‘La Piste’ offers very fast breaks
which are often tubing, with surfers understandably protective
of their waves.
Biarritz, Labenne-Ocean and Ondres Plage are good breaks close the N10 (major road), which are seldom crowded. Tarnos
Plage is industrial, but has good tubing lefts. Respect
the gnarly locals.
The Basque coast offers more variety of waves, with coves, rocky
reefs, and beaches pointing in numerous different directions. At
the heart of the Côte Basque is Biarritz, the glamorous birthplace
of French surfing.
Biarritz from the north, just south of the River Ardour, don’t
bother with La Barre, as it suffers from low water quality. The
barrels of Les Cavaliers are said to rival those of Hossegor.
It can get crowded, but is usually bigger than Anglet.
Plages d’Anglet provide plenty of sand break options which work at all times,
so keep walking until you find your ideal spot. If busy, look
for Plage de L’Ocean and Plage de la Madrague (close to
Chiberta), which are a longer walk from the car park. Plage
des Sables d’Or and Plage du VVF are sand beach breaks accessible
form the car park at Chambre d’Armour, scenically situated
near the light house. The waves here provide good long rides,
and are visible from the road so attract a lot of people, but
there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Grande Plage in the centre of town has to be done if
you’re visiting these parts. Obviously it can get busy,
and there is a section reserved for bathers. Do not ride at high
tide. Your best bet might be evening or early morning. Still
in Biarritz, Côte des Basques is the birthplace of surfing
in France, and is good for longboards. Best at low tide. Further
South on the beach (away from the lighthouse) the wave breaks
over flat rock beds.
you head south out of Biarritz, Ilbarritz works
at all tides, but watch out for the rocky reef below.
south along the coast towards the Spanish border: Bidart central beach can be good at all tides, again watch out for rocks
Guéthary is worth visiting for the village and the harbour alone. The surf
breaks over flat rocks, and works at all tides. Tends to be popular
with longboarders and can be busy. Immediately
south of Guéthary harbour, Les Alcyons has a heavy current
and should be avoided unless you know what you’re doing.
Doesn’t work at high tide.
Jean-Marc Takaki | COMMENTS 14.01.09
Guethary is a soft Waikiki like longboard spot when it's
head high. When it gets double overhead and over it's a big wave spot
that holds big swells, and those who surf it use 8 foot guns, and the
crowd thin out dramatically. The Surf Session Big Wave Challenge is
held there when the swell is 15 foot hawaiian.les Alcyons works best at mid high tide and the current is
not any more dangerous or stronger than it is on the other side of the
channel at Parlmentia (Guethary). However there are boils and rocks
underneath so les Alcyons can be scary. The current though runs away
from the peak so the risk of getting caught in the wrong spot is tiny
compare to Parlmentia where the current runs towards the impact
zone... so getting caught and worked at Parlementia is guaranteed
however experienced you are... it is in that sense like Sunset Beach.
Parlmentia (Bidart) is also the old timers and pioneers favorite spot, more so
than "la cote des basques". It has a rich surfing history, and Mickey
Doora spent the last few years of his life in the village.
In the bay of St Jean de Luz itself, the waves
have got to be big to get into the harour where they break over
the beaches of Ciboure and Socoa. The breaks here are to the north of the town - Erromardie and Lafitenia.
on the border of Spain, Hendaye Plage is a beach
break smaller than elsewhere – so well suited for beginners.
The width of the break offers a choice of peaks, the best being
that near the casino. Beginners should head to the north end of
course the surf doesn’t stop at Hendaye. The breaks continue
along the Bay of Biscay coastline into northern Spain passing San Sebastien, Bilbao and Santander. Mundaka is the pick.
|Aquitaine Surf Resorts Map
Personal Highlights of surfing in Aquitaine
in the heart of Biarritz at the Grande Plage – walking through the city centre in a wetsuit and a board in your arm.
Feel like a pioneer and take one of the many un-metalled tracks through the forest in Les Landes or Gironde and find your own spot for the day.
how to do it properly – at the Rip Curl Pro, Hossegor (usually late August, see links below for dates).
The sheer reliability of this coast - unlike Cornwall, there's always a good wave to be found nearby.
Trying something new, particularly kite-surfing at Biscarrosse.
Schools are a great way to introduce you to the Atlantic waves.
Even if you know what you’re doing they still provide
invaluable advice about local conditions and breaks.
Expect to be able to hire equipment from the local surf school,
which can be picked to suit your experience and size.
2-hour lessons are the norm, expect to pay around 30 EUR, and
don’t worry if you’re amongst a group – it’s
fun to share the experience. Usually the price will include equipment.
Many clubs even offer ‘tandem surfing’ with the teacher
joining you on your board until you get the hang of it.
Check the standard of the instructor’s English before booking and also look out for FFS accreditation.
The following Surf Schools have been used by past clients and in some cases we know the people who run these surf schools
(Says Julian Elliott Aug 2011: the instructor is a local lad, but speaks fluent English and has a great attitude. Nothing was too much trouble. If the surf / tides were not good at a certain time of day, he made sure he got the lessons done at an alternative time.
We arrived on a Sunday; and the first lesson was then scheduled for 7pm on that evening (not many surf schools would do that in France).
One day where the conditions were quite flat he took the boys paddle boarding later in the day to make up for the shorter surf lesson in the morning.
Surf Lodge (contact Claire) - lovely, family-friendly
surf school, special rates for AA clients
|SOULAC SUR MER
Surf Club (based at main town beach)
Ecole de Surf Soulac (Amelie - slightly further South)
|MONTALIVET LES BAINS
several listed on the Montalivet Tourist Office website
Lacanau Surf Club
Lacanau Kite-surfing Club
Lacanau Wake-boarding Club
Surf Club de la Prequ'ile
Ecole de Surf du Cap Ferret
Moliets et Maa Surf Shop & School
(we've had good reports from clients and always
found them helpful when we've contacted them)
Ecole de Surf Moliets
Previous customers have also told
us that the Surf Academy based at Desert point is very helpful
and flexible, with one instructor speaking great English.
|VIEUX BOUCAU & PORT D'ALBRET
(contact Josef and Carole - has
been recommended by the owner of one of our properties)