Learning - Pro
March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Intermediate - Intermediate
April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Yoga Searcher Hossegor is a yoga retreat in the countryside of south west France, specializing in providing getaways for anyone looking for a slice of serenity.
Renowned as one of the best coastlines in the world for surf, France offers so much with culture, history and plenty of action in the bars or on the beach. There are waves all year around but it is the winter that brings the biggest and most consistent waves to this area. The main (and warmer!) surf season is between May - October.
France is the largest country in Europe, and one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations, offering something for every taste and budget. It’s a very diverse country with a rich culture, great food and even better wines.
It’s located in Western Europe and has a coastline of nearly 3500 km. The country offers a spectacular variety of scenery, from the mountain ranges of the Alps and Pyrenees to the beautiful beaches in the south of France. It boasts the best waves in Europe and some of the heaviest beach breaks in the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the pro surfers favourite destinations on the tour. However don’t be disheartened if you are learning or an intermediate, there are plenty of options for all levels.
Seasons & Weather
The waves are bigger and the swells more consistent during the winter months between September and May. You will need a 4’3 wetsuit until from October to May and then the water temperature heats up and you can usually wear a shortie or board shorts from mid-July until September.
The southwest of France is close to the mountains, which brings changeable weather however it’s usually hot and sunny (30 - 35°C) during the summer months of July and August. The bigger swells start to come through around September time when the Quiksilver Pro comes to town. November to February is normally colder and rainy but there’s snow in the Pyrenees from December until springtime so this is one of the few places in the world where it’s nice to snowboard and surf in the same day.
Surf & other activities
The best waves are in the southwest; not only beach breaks, but also reef and point breaks further down the coast in the Basque Country. The south west of France has the famous Hossegor barrels, where a deep trench crosses the continental shelf delivering big swells from the Atlantic Ocean. When the swell is too big, you can travel further down the coast into the French Basque Country where you can ride reef and point breaks that hold big swells as well as provide shelter from the wind.
Hossegor gets crowded in August but you can always find less-crowded waves if you are prepared to go searching just 10 minutes or so further up the coast. The rest of the time you can find good waves with few crowds especially if you are willing to get out there early! It’s bright well before 6am in summer so you can get uncrowdedwaves if you are an early riser!
The most famous waves in Hossegor are found out the front of the central Hossegor beach, opposite The Rock Food bar. The Graviere is a really heavy, barrel with a thick lip just to the north of the Rock Food; it’s basically a serious shorebreak onto the beach. When the swell is over 6 foot, a wave called Le Nord breaks into deeper water straight out the front of the Rock Food. There is a channel to get you out the back, the waves are big and heavy and the hold-downs are sobering….these waves are for the intermediate to advanced surfer.
If the waves are too big then go to the next break down, which is called Le Sud – it’s located on the Hossegor side of the port. If the waves are huge, the only place to surf is in between the groynes at Capbreton, which is more suitable for beginners as it is sheltered from the big swells. Further south again is a wave called La Piste, which is another heavy, barrelling beach break.
Just north of the Graviere is a nudist beach called les Culsnus (literally translated as bare bum beach) – in summer you will walk through the naturalists on the beach to get to some really good A-frame barrels. Further north again, you get to a popular beach called Les Estagnots – there’s a great bar / restaurant in the car park here owned by an Aussie called Woody. Another 15 minutes walk up this beach takes you to Les Bourdaines. This is where the best sandbanks often form and where the ASP surfing contests are sometimes held. The Cream Café is a good bar / restaurant situated in the car park right next to The Perfect Wave European Headquarters.
Where you want to surf depends on your level of surfing and what you are looking for. Some people may prefer a barrelling beach break while others prefer to surf the more mellow waves down the coast in the Basque Country. The sandbanks on the northern beaches are constantly changing so you need to travel up and down the coast, checking the banks and the tides in order to search for your perfect wave.
30 minutes further south is The Basque Country. Biarritz is a pretty little coastal town in the Basque Country with some lovely beaches surrounded by rocks and cliffs. Slabs of reef dot the coast and there are also coves, headlands and a series of jetties in Anglet, which are protected from the wind.
Famous waves like Guethary and Lafitenia attract the crowds from far and wide, especially when the northern beaches in Hossegor are too big to surf. Depending on the swell direction, it’s usually a few feet smaller in the Basque country so this area caters for all levels of surfing.
Just across the Adour River in Anglet, Les Cavaliers is a stretch of coast that is interrupted by a series of jetties on the southern side of the beach offering protection from the wind. This area tends to close out when the swell gets bigger than a solid 6 – 8 foot.
La Grande Plage is a beach that picks up a lot of swell in Biarritz itself. The waves get busy in summer with locals as well as tourists. Although waves here can be hollow, they are usually less heavy than the barrels of Hossegor
La cote des Basques is where the annual Roxy ASP event is held; it’s a beautiful bay with peaks all along it. You can have a nice surf and then watch the waves while having lunch in the restaurant overlooking the whole bay.
Bidart is another safe and fun wave, perfect for learners, rights and lefts break onto a sandy / rock bottom.
Guethary is a 20-minute paddle out the back. It breaks in deep water onto a reef and is for experienced surfers only. It doesn’t get good until the waves hit 5 or 6 foot and it holds up to a solid 15 ft. and bigger. It’s a powerful wave with a big ledgey take-off and a nice drop leading back to the channel. Going left when it’s big will leave you in the impact zone and watch out for the currents. Be very respectful of this powerful wave and the locals will command respect too.
Lafitenia is an exposed reef and a right-hand point break. It’s fairly consistent so beware of crowds and watch out for the rocks.
Further south again is Hendaye is the ideal spot for beginners, it’s a big beach on the border of Spain where the waves are way less heavy than up north.
On the Mediterranean coast, in the south east of France, the scenery is different and the waves are more inconsistent. The Minstrel wind blows all year but more in the springtime, creating surfable wind swells.
There are also waves further up the coast on the Atlantic side through Biscarosse and the Gironde. The breakbreaks of Hortin and Lacanau are lovely little towns with less heavy waves than in Hossegor. Brittany towards the north of France is a beautiful area where the coastline is similar to the UK and the weather and waves are quite similar too.
Apart from surfing, there are lots of things to do in France; the picturesque town of St Jean de Luz is definitely worth an afternoon shopping trip. It’s a quaint little village located around the harbour, lots of traditional restaurants, pedestrianised streets surrounded by beautiful Basque architecture. There are village festivals in each main town in France during the summer months. The most famous is la Fete de Bayonne that brings together over a million and a half people. It’s ranked among the top 5 best festivals worldwide, so certainly worth a look. For 5 days, people fill up the city of Bayonne dressed from head to foot in red and white.
Up near the Pyrenees kayaking, canoeing, paragliding and climbing are all popular activities when there are no waves. Also pre-historical sightseeing to some of the oldest caves discovered is a cultural experience not to be missed.
Other fun activities include heading up to Bordeaux on the train to go wine tasting around the St. Emillion region of France. Then of course there is Euro Disney in Paris, which is a must if you have young children.