Friday, July 20, 2007
France 2007 – for those who may never get the opportunity…
The plan was to take the camper van to France and cruise gently down the left LH side
visiting some old haunts, find some new spots, surf a bit, sample the excellent food and wine along the way, to Biarritz, just by the border with Spain.
Board choice – hmmn…. I would love to say that I took one of the Harbours, the Wingpin is my usual travel board, but it was not to be. I was very concerned about the temperatures inside the van, as the green house effect of all that glass generates a lot of heat (especially parked up in the sun) and a delam would be very bad news. Thus it was that the DT2 9.2 made the trip with the 9” HP fin, also the surf forecast was not that good and this board (with flattish rocker) was a good choice for the expected conditions. Just about half the Atlantic coast is one big beach break.
We sailed Plymouth to Roscoff in Brittany, first stop Pointe de la Torche which is almost the most westerly point in France. Lovely beach break in a curving bay with the point itself working sometimes. I’d last surfed here about 15 years ago and it was just as I remembered.
Two good days of chest to shoulder high clean waves with a few nose rides (but the cross stepping is not the best you ever saw!) A fun weekend.
Next stop Carnac, with the Neolithic dolmens, menhirs and rows of standing stones.
What an awesome sight to see them marching for miles across the country side.
On again through Lorient past the WW2 U Boat pens to the Isle de Re (sorry no accents on this key board). Very pretty Island but no surf. On to Les Sable d’Olonne and a campsite next to the beach, excellent spot.
Through La Rochhelle to Royan and the ferry over the Gironde. Chanced upon a couple riding 70’s Honda and Yamaha with CA plates – a long way from home!
Off the ferry and down the coast to a premier spot – Lacanau. What a dump! Weather awful, wet and very windy. The storm blew for 2 days as we drove on down the coast. Messanges, another beach break and some mighty barrels after the storm. Paddled out through the most vicious rip in almost flat water with overhead waves either side. Took a well overhead, clean, glassy barrel here, took off, just made the turn, tucked in and got well and truly hammered. What a beasting that was! Waited till the next day when things were more manageable and had a great session.
On towards Hossegor. Ah Hossegor! The river at Hossegor was diverted by Napolean to provide a better harbour further along the coast. The channel scoured out by the river enables big Atlantic swells to hit the coast without slowing down and produces some truly huge barrels. There was a claim last year, for the largest wave ever ridden anywhere – about 90ft!. Don’t know if it made the record book, though.
And so to Anglet where the European Surf Championships were being held.
Saw some great surfers struggling in pretty flat conditions. I had to chuckle over the Swiss Surf Team though – I mean where do they practice?
Finally, Biarritz. A very elegant town with some handsome beaches and various breaks.
Cotes des Basques was a great bit of theatre, with the poseurs performing for the crowd.
High tide meant a take off very close to the rocks, a short ride closely followed by a stylish kick out.
Time to head for home. We had a really good trip. France is a great country with some superp surf spots and wonderful wine. Oh, and some of the cheese is really quite good too!