Surfing is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when imagining a vacation in France. As a native Californian, I can certainly relate to that. I imagine Australia, Mexico, and the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. before any European surf destinations. With that said, the West Coast of France has some pretty amazing surf with a good nightlife and fabulous food to boot.
With great summer weather and consistent surf, France has plenty to offer those looking for a surfing vacation. Whether you’re an experienced surfer looking for a new place to catch some waves or a beginner just wanting to try something new, France’s coastline offers plenty of opportunities for all levels. From the beach breaks of Hossegor to the mellow waves of Cote de Basques in Biarritz, France delivers beautiful beaches, great surf, and a captivating culture.
When to Go
Though summer is clearly the most attractive option for those looking to get in some time soaking up the sun on the beach between surf sessions, the best surf will be found in the winter months when the temperature is cooler and the crowds are fewer. If you’re looking for the best surf, head to the West Coast of France between fall and spring to find gaping tubes and fewer people.
What to Bring
You can easily transport your own gear if you’re so inclined, but surfboards and wetsuits are easy to rent so if you’re going to be traveling to other non-surfing locations in France or Europe and don’t want to tow along your board, you’ll be able to find something in one of the many surf shops along the coast.
Where to Go
The west coast of France is split into a few main surfing areas. In the north, there is Brittany followed by the Cote de Lumiere, which stretches from Brittany down to La Rochelle, and then finally the Silver Coast and Cote de Basque, which joins with Spain in the south.
The French Mediterranean and the northern coast of Brittany occasionally deliver waves, but the most consistent surf can be found further south. The southwest coast of France includes popular surf destinations like Hossegor, Biarritz, Anglet and Guethary and it’s absolutely the spot to hit if you’re looking to plan a surfing trip to France. The Silver Coast, for example, has 160 miles of uninterrupted sandy beaches while the Cote Basque has rocky shores and hollowed reefs, providing large and consistent swells.
Though there is good surf stretching from Brest near the northwest of France and heading toward Belgium, the surf is much better closer to the northwest tip. It gets worse the further east you head. There are some pretty sweet reef breaks, which will suit the more experienced surfers. The weather is a little bit colder, but hitting the surf spots in Brittany is totally worth the colder temperature. It’s definitely not as consistent as the West Coast, but it’s much better than the Mediterranean coast.
The Mediterranean coast in the southeast isn’t a great place to plan a surf trip, but surf spots can be found. Generally the surf is pretty small and it’s very much a case of being in the right place at the right time, but it can be a mellow and laid-back environment for those just taking up the sport. Definitely don’t bother looking for anything in the summer, but the winter months can bring in a few small swells. The stretch from Cannes heading toward the Italian coastline can get decent surf from September to February. If you’re hanging out along France’s Mediterranean coastline, hitting the waves is always a fun option, but if you’re heading to France specifically to surf, don’t waste your time. Instead, head to the West Coast.
There are plenty of options for surf schools in France, but here are a few options to get you started.
Natural Surf Lodge in Hossegor Seignosse
There are numerous packages and surf classes offered through this school so whether you want to sign up for a weekend, a week, or a Moroccan surfing trip, you’ll find something to suit your needs.
Study French and Surfing
In Biarritz, you can combine academics with adventure by signing up for the École de français’s “French & Surf” course. With twenty hours of French classes and 10 hours of surfing a week, you’ll leave this beautiful town with a better grasp on the French language and some of the country’s best surf spots.
Offering camps along the west coast of France, Nomad Surfers gives you a few different location options and also offers camps for kids.