Surfing in France: Top 5 Spots to Visit(2024)

written by local expert Grace Austin

After fumbling through a year of studying abroad in China, Grace had the crazy (and slightly questionable) idea to move there full-time. She then learned a whole pile of mad stuff, like how to kiteboard and speak Chinese (though not very well simultaneously). Since, she’s been beach-bumming around the world in search of the best places to drop her bags and ride.

Looking for the best surfing in France? I got you covered.

Before we get into it…let’s talk about France. Land of cheese, wine, and topless sunbathing (ooh la la).

As if that wasn’t enough to make us want to pack a bag, board a flight, and never ever return, France’s southwest tempts us even further with its long, winding coastline that receives perfect swells and barreling waves throughout the entire year.

The Riviera is so last year.

France’s decadent southeast coast has long drawn the bulk of the south-bound tourists.

The bright lights and crystal waters of Monaco coupled with the A-list culture of Cannes has kept visitors coming through year after year.

But those looking for some real adventure tend to shy away from the starstruck streets of Saint-Tropez in favour of France’s western waters.

In this article, I will share my top tips on surfing in France, as well as give you information on the best surf spots and what to expect.

Let’s get to it.

south of france surf spots

Best Surf Spots in France

France is a surfing mecca, offering a vast array of surf spots along its beautiful coastline. From the world-famous waves of Hossegor to the beginner-friendly beaches of Biarritz, France has something for every surfer.

In the southwest, Hossegor is the crown jewel of French surfing, and the place where the world’s best surfers come to compete in the annual Quiksilver Pro France.

With powerful beach breaks and long barreling waves, Hossegor is a paradise for experienced surfers. But if you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer, fear not! The nearby beaches of Seignosse and Capbreton offer gentler waves and a more relaxed atmosphere.

In the south, Biarritz is a great spot for beginners and experienced surfers alike. The beach breaks at La Grande Plage and Cote des Basques are perfect for learning to surf, while the reef break at La Barre offers more challenging waves for experienced surfers.

And if you’re looking for a quieter surf spot, head further down the coast to the beautiful beaches of Guethary and Bidart, which offer great waves and a more laid-back vibe.

If you keep on reading, I will discuss each spot in detail, giving you tips on what to expect when visiting these surf spots in France.

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1. Lacanau

Just 45 minutes south of Bordeaux, Lacanau is a small, quaint town that’s bursting with authentic southern vibes.

The traveling surf tribes often skip over Lacanau in favour of its southern neighbours, despite the fact that the Bay of Biscay delivers beautiful conditions here all year round.

There’s a handful of surfable waves dotted along the coast outside of town, but inside there’s a big stretch of beach surrounded by sandbars and jetties. If you’re after some clean little barrels (minus the crowds) this is the place to head for.

surfing in france

2. Mimizan Plage

A small town nestled into the coast an hour and a half from Bordeaux, Mimizan is known for its expansive sandy shoreline and gorgeous seaside walkways.

The local wave riders have filled the place up with colourful surf lodges and organic eateries, turning Mimizan Bourg into a vibrant hodgepodge of traditional Côte d’Argent culture and modern surf style.

The beach serves up a mix of conditions, with plenty of gentle rolling waves that are perfect for beginners who are working on building their confidence. For the more advanced riders, the nearby river mouth has consistent surf year round, with extra big swells showing up when the wind blows from the west.

There’s plenty of surf schools here that deal with lessons and rentals, but even with all the local surfers on the water it rarely gets over-crowded.

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3. Hossegor

One hour further down the coast from Mimizan, the forgiving conditions disappear. Hossegor is big wave territory, with 5-meter swells becoming the norm when the season turns on.

Hossegor’s surf conditions are so outstanding, in fact, that the international surf legends at Quiksilver pick this spot as the location for their Pro Surf Competition each year.

Hossegor’s northern beaches have the biggest swells, which decrease in size the further south you go towards the sheltered bay.

On top of that, the nearby towns of Seignosse and Capbreton are both within a 15-minute drive away. Each of which have their own collection of incredible breaks.

surf spots

4. Hendaye

Hendaye is France’s most southerly surf spot. Though it sits just 20 kilometers south of Guethary- a place famed for its monster 6-meter swells- Hendaye’s gentle surf and soft rollers are ideal for beginners.

Characterised by its bustling harbour, vibrant open-air markets, and the soaring stone faces of its many cathedrals, Hendaye showcases the best of the Basque Country.

The town sits right on the banks of the River Bidassoa, one of the last things you see before you leave France to cross the Spanish border.

Explore the town and ride the reef break, and when you’ve finished you only need to head south for half an hour before you hit San Sebastian, one of Spain’s coolest surf spots.

5. Biarritz

Basque Country, where the most south-westerly part of France meets the most north-westerly part of Spain, is famed around the world for its distinct culture- and right at the heart of that is one of our favourite surf spots of all, Biarritz.

The city epitomises everything it means to be Basque: soulful music, vibrant (and frequent) festivals, delicious syrupy red wine, charcuterie, bull racing, and beautiful landscape.

For extreme nomads who pick their next destination based on where they can practice the sports they love, Biarritz is an absolute paradise.

Not only is this little city brimming with cool culture, food, and wine, it’s also one of the few places in the world where you can scale the snow-capped mountains at breakfast and surf the beach breaks at lunch.

Grande Plage, the main beach in Biarritz, is the most popular beach in town. Its sheltered, crescent-shaped shores are ideal for both newbie surfers and intermediate riders- but watch out, the line up gets pretty crowded during the summer months.

Mercifully, the shifting peaks at the Grand Plage mean it’s not hard to catch a wave, even when it’s busy.

If you’re keen to beat the crowds entirely, just hop in the car and head 10 minutes down the road to Anglet, a little area renowned for having more than 10 surfable spots in less than 5 kilometers.


Best Surfing Camps in France

If you’re looking to improve your surfing skills while in France, joining a surf camp may not be such a bad idea. Here are our top picks for the best surf camps in the region.

Surf CampLocationLengthBook Surf Camps
Chill Camp with Moilets SurfMoliets-Plage, Landes, France8 DaysView Prices
Surf Camp for All LevelsMimizan-Plage, France8 DaysView Prices
Surf Camp in LandesMessanges, Landes, France7 DaysView Prices
Surf Camp for WomenBiarritz, France8 DaysView Prices
Ultimate Deluxe Surf and Yoga HolidayMoliets, Landes, France8 DaysView Prices
Surf Camp and Immersive French LessonsCapbreton-Hossegor, near Biarritz, France8 DaysView Prices

If you want to read our full guide on the best surf camps in France, click the button below!

Where to Find Surf in France

France is road trip heaven.

Even a short drive through the countryside is enough to make you feel like someone turned the saturation levels way up on the entire landscape.

The blazing yellows of the rapeseed fields, the dappled greens of the grape vines, and nothing around for miles but the sweet smell of lavender.

It can quickly start to feel like the sort of place you’d be happy enough to “accidentally” lose your passport in. Trust me, traveling this region is one of my best travel tips for France.

Thanks to its Atlantic exposure, France’s stunning southwest coast gets big swells rolling in straight off the ocean.

The Bay of Biscay delivers the swell right into the coastline, creating row upon row of perfect corduroy lines on the water. The entire region is filled with world class beach breaks, which has earned it a reputation among international surf circuits as one of the best surf spots in Europe.

Each season brings its own unique conditions. The winter months can be unforgivingly cold, with waves easily in excess of 6 meters on certain breaks.

In contrast, the summer months bring balmy temperatures in the air and water while still serving up incredible water conditions day after day.

Best Time to Surf in France

While June through August sees big crowds and busy lineups, there are tons of hideaways waiting to be discovered if you’re prepared to wander off the well-trodden surf trail. The entire southwest shoreline is littered with surfable breaks, with a wave for every level of rider.

Just remember: the local surfers are proud and protective of their home spots- especially if they’re still “secret”.

They want to see the beauty of their place preserved. Always respect the local riders- on the water and off- and treat the beach like you’d treat your own home.

south of france surfing

Getting to the Surf Spots in France:

The biggest international airport in the region is Bordeaux–Mérignac, which is well connected with the rest of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America.

If you can manage to find the right flight, you can also fly straight to Biarritz. Alternatively, you can fly to Paris and take the fast train to Bordeaux in 3 hours, or Biarritz in 5.

From the airport, it’s best to rent a car traveling with surfboards on public transport can be a bit of a pain. Find yourself a ride with a roof rack and you’re golden.

Plus, if you have your own vehicle, you’ll have so many more opportunities to explore the harder-to-reach parts of the coastline and discover your own perfect spot.

Surfing in France’s Southwest is an incredible experience- no matter what your level is. With all the culture to soak up, wine to drink, tapas to eat, and waves to ride, you’ll probably never want to leave.

Hopefully, this guide to surfing in France has given you a ton of tips on where to go, what to do, and more.

Looking for more articles on Europe? Take a look at a few of our best ones

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Surfing in France: Looking for information on the best surf spots in France? Click here to read our full guide.
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