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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Hossegor

Hossegor

Landes - Aquitaine , France

Surf, Bodyboard

Hossegor is the most famous spot in Les Landes on the southwest coast of France. Together with Supertubes in Portugal, it’s the best European Atlantic beach break and without doubt, the most traditional. Internationally, it’s considered as the European surf capital. Soorts-Hossegor village is a part of the Aquitania region, and the nearest main airports are Biarritz and San Sebastian which are both an hour away, or Burdeos which is two hours away. The main road which takes you to this part of the coast is the A63, follow this until exit 8 (Bénesse-Maremne) then follow the signs to Capbreton-Hossegor-Labenne, taking first the D28 and then the D152, paying attention to the round-a-bouts as there are a lot and they can cause confusion. Once you cross the Hossegor canal, to the right of Capbreton Port, you’ll be very close and you’ll find a car park on Blvd Notre Dame or Blvd De La Grand Dune, south of the Front de Mer.

This valuable stretch of coastline that will seduce any European surfer is known as Les Landes, a term derived from the unique ecosystem that boarders the whole of the littoral that faces the Atlantic Ocean. Less than a century ago it was a wild and impassable flat area of land with dunes and was full of shrubs, forests and swamps with mosquitos and the people had to walk with stilts to get through it. At the beginning of the XIX Century, it was Napolean III that fell in love with the place and decided to improve the situation with the demanding job of drying and settling the land, and planting miles of pines. The access and articulation gradually became possible in what is now the largest maritime forest in Europe. A century ago, no one would be able to imagine how Hossegor has changed. Everything began when the first surfers arrived at this beach in the sixties and discovered a beach break like nothing they had ever seen, not even in California. Among the pioneers were Billy Hamilton, Wayne Linch and Nat Young, and they showed the rest of the world the secrets that Hossegor was hiding in the video Evolution and Waves of Change. In the seventies, more surfers from Biarritz arrived and in the eighties, with the championships that were being held, it became a respectable sport and the surf industry began.

hossegor-surf-france

Technically, it’s known for having the best quality sandbanks in the world, and it’s where the famous peaks Graviere and Nord are, along with Sud which is slightly separated from them. A few hundred metres north is where you’ll find Seignosse and further south you’ll find the Capbreton peaks and the famous Piste. With a bit of luck, but above all, with knowledge, your sessions there will be unforgettable. The surfing goes from deep, powerful barrels on the shore at Graviere that will remind you of Backdoor, and waves that give perfect ramps for manoeuvres a little further out from the shore, to pumps on the outer sandbanks of Nord that will remind you of Sunset when they hit fifteen feet. A characteristic which is unique to Hossegor is the consistency and the extra size of the waves thanks to the submarine canon that concentrates all of the energy and swell and directs it towards Hossegor and its main peaks. This is evident when you see the big waves in Nord which are surfed by tow-ins.

The best season is from September until November because after the summer the sandbanks are very well formed, the climate is still extraordinarily mild, meaning that you can still surf without a wetsuit as the Atlantic is warmer there than at any other European coastline that faces the Atlantic. There are hundreds of places to eat, drink and meet people. The accommodation options are varied and range from hostels, apartments that you can rent with your friends and campsites with zones for tents, vans and caravans. At the end of September the Quik Pro France is celebrated there. The expectation, quality of the waves and the charm of the place makes it one of the most important events of the WCT. Graviere has been the headquarters of the area since 2002 and we can’t forget the epic conditions that gave victory to Andy Irons in 2004 and Mick Fanning in 2010. It’s logical that the elite French and European surfers train there. Among those are Jean Sarthou, Miky Picon, Eric Rebiere, Laurent Pujol, Romain Cloiture, Dimitri Ouvre, Patrick Beven, Jeremy Flores, Joan Duru Marc Lacomare, Alizée Arnaud and even the ex-world champion Tom Curren and his daughter Lee Ann. Most of the major surf companies have their European headquarters in Soorts-Hossegor and along with them are the local shapers and creators of the best boards for surfing these waves, among those are Christian Bradley Starks and Peter Daniels.

Conditions

The best season is the end of the summer and autumn as it’s when the majority of tourists leave and the low pressures begin to deepen in the North Atlantic, sending the first swells. In comparison to the other nearby spots, Hossegor is always noticeably bigger and more powerful due to the littoral configuration and the seabed. Except for the days when it’s extremely cold in the winter, it can be considered as a year round spot. Even with the onshore wind from the west, the good colocation of the sandbanks means that the waves get good rideable sections with verticals, they’re punchy and have good shape. With light breezes from the east and southeast and any swell from N – NW, the ideal conditions usually come in the early morning and many more times during the day.

The tide is a factor that has to be taken into account as it could make or break your session within minutes because there are big tide changes there, sometimes reaching a difference of six metres. Therefore, the conditions will change drastically throughout the day and prior knowledge of the tides is the key. Watch the locals as they will appear and disappear at the right times. It’s important to consider that there is a tendency for people to crowd at the main peaks, but the conditions change quickly and perfect waves can sometimes appear out of nowhere just a few metres away. Another thing to consider is the strong currents, above all by the shore, as they can be like rivers and you need to be able to interpret them well..

hossegor-surf-france

In the winter it is very cold and you’ll need at least a 5 mm wetsuit, booties and a hood. The days with good waves and offshore wind are hard to endure as the air that comes from inland is very cold. In the spring, the atmosphere quickly gets warmer but the water is still cold. It’s worth noting that you could be alone during some sessions after the brutal winter storms that change the configuration of the banks. In the summer, sessions in swimwear with fun waves and masses of people is normal and because of the heavy beach traffic it’s not recommended to arrive or leave by car between 10 and 12 in the morning and 5 and 7 in the afternoon. The three main peaks at Hossegor are Nord, a peak which when it works, is one of the few that can be surfed in the north of Capbreton when the swell is more than 10 feet. This exterior bank is a big wave peak where they occasionally do tow-ins, it holds huge rights and has a channel to go in. If you opt for the left, you’ll need to be strong because it’s a tough paddle to get back and the best option is usually to go out and look for the channel. It can work with all tides but mid tide is the best. When the swell is smaller there are often a lot of SUPs.

Graviere is the typical barrelling beach break which works with most tides, however it’s best at mid tide and rarely works with tides that are too high. With 4 to 8 feet swells and glassy waters, the conditions and the beach barrels are perfect. On occasions, although the swells look messy when they are further out, when they get closer, the Graviere beds take shape and the waves are very good although the take off zone can vary a lot. Sud is the most southern peak and faces towards Capbreton. It’s a peak that is surprisingly a lot smaller, despite having the same shape as Nord and Graviere, and it’s the opposite of them because the lefts aren’t as good. It’s often used by beginners and people who are progressing. It doesn’t work at high tide and the water quality may be mediocre due to the proximity of the river. 


 
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Beachbreak
  • Wind
    E
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    W - NW
  • Bottom
    Sand
  • Size
    3 to 12 ft
  • Time of year
    From September to May
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