France roadtrip Autumn 2010

Last Sep spent 15 days down SW France, about 50 miles North of Biarritz.

Having been going down there now for 20 years now, rather than just viewing it my surfing blinkers on, checked it out from windsurfing & kitesurfing point of view also.

Typical summer weather is AM x-offshore gradient winds caused by high over France with onshores picking up midday turning x-on by later afternoon.

Out of 15 days, I reckon there were 3 sailable days. The sea breezes were in region of 10-15mph so not really much, although a few kiters were out. wrt Sailing locations, I've never seen anyone sailng in the sea down there in 20 years, however there are numerous lakes nearby. Checked Lac De Leon on couple of days with wind and there was a small windsurf community. There was hire kit, but old stuff. Talking to them confirmed my thoughts that none sail in sea due to shorebreak and also trekking over sand dunes with gear. They reckon that Arcachon Basin (subject to tide), Biscarrose, Lacanau and numerous other lakes are worth sailng, as is St Jean De Luz further South with point break working on big swells. Winds start to pick up in Autumn, but there are restrictions on sailing year round in lakes due to duck hunting.

There were quite a few out kitesurfing in the afternoon breezes, with Hossegor area proving very popular.

So I reckon if going there Jun-Sep, not worth taking windsurf kit, but worth taking bike, plus surfboard, poss kitesurf kit. Worth taking windsurf kit further North for Vendee or Brittany regions or South for Med regions, as more wind and potentially more sheltered spots from gear crushing shorebreak.

Did I mention the surf? Absolutely cranked. 22 degrees water temp, 34 degrees air temp (on hottest day), sunny, glassy waves. Hurricane Danielle assisted also.

For those of you unfamiliar with that part of the world, there is the Hossegor effect, with an underwater canyon 3km deep stretching right up to metres away from the beach, meaning waves don’t depower and slow down due to continental shelving giving almost Hawaiian like power.

Only downside is surfing is so popular nowadays with Xtreme sport 18-30 community taking their summer board fix there, meaning line ups are packed with mostly North Europeans taking their summer equivalent of their skiing holidays. I've never seen it that busy there before and it was the same up & down the coast.

Surfing & travelling definitely aint the alternative lifestyle anymore - certainly nowadays when things are very corporate and packaged up.

Empty Big French A-Frame peak courtesy of Hurricane Danielle. This was first light with no-one out!

Big French A-Frame

Big French A-Frame

Crowded Capbreton - cracking waves, and is one of limited options when other places maxed out, so always a crowd.

Crowded Capbreton

Kite Surfing the Lagoon - combination of spring hightide & cross onshore sea breezes creates waist deep lagoon ideal for learning to kite surf.

Kitesurfing the lagoon

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