A guide to surfing France. Capbreton, Hossegor and Seignosse

After watching the Quicksilver pro and not having a much of a plan, Leah and I decided we’d give Hossegor a good go and stick around for a while. The surf was on and off for a few days after the tournament and it always seemed like the weekends would pump. We settled right into this town and soon enough we felt like locals, even though we were far from it. If you like the sound of Hossegor for a stop along your trip, or want to shack up there for a while, give this a read, I guarantee you’ll find something useful and catch some breathtaking waves!

WHERE TO STAY:

Like in the title, the Hossegor region is divided up into three separate places. Capbreton which is the most south of the three, Hossegor which is in the middle and Seignosse which is on the northern side. It took us a solid few days to get our bearings here (its confusing as shit), but we soon figured it out. Living the vanlife meant we got to experience all three of these places by day and night.

Le surf spot hostel – These days staying in hostels is very non-existent for us but having a couple of friends from NZ stay here we rocked up to check it out. After having a yarn with the British owner Rob, we were lucky enough to be able to park the van on the road outside and pay a discounted rate to use the facilities. After taking a quick tour of the place we were happy with the deal and parked up Cassie for a week or so. This hostel is exactly what we were looking for. Such a chill, unique and personable experience it’s by far one of the best places we’ve discovered so far.

The hostel itself is a two-story family home, 5 bedrooms which houses 14 guests in bunks including 1 double room. Everywhere you look is surfing memorabilia, old boards and surf bums. In just over week we really met such a wide range of amazing people. From Brazilian to American, British and Australian, even a dude from Mongolia, there was someone from almost each continent, your bound to make friends with everyone here. Lydia and Iydi, the workers, made the experience that much better, it felt like a home away from home. With the use of surfboards, skateboards, bikes and wetsuits, your money goes a long way. Note: the distance from here into Hossegor beach or town is 40mins old lady walk time but with the bikes + skateboards you’re looking at around 20.

Koala surf camp – Although we didn’t stay here, this surf hostel is another place to check out if you wanna be in Hossegor. Right on Hossegor beach, close to the surf and food joints, this would be a good spot if your after the surfer buzz.

Sunset house – There’s a trend here with these hostels. This one is no different, the surfer vibe carries on into Seignoisse where this hostel is located. 40min walk south and you’re in Hossegor.

Airbnb / booking.com – We say it time and time again but if your wanting your own personal space or something for a bunch of mates, get onto booking.com and Airbnb.
A little tip: every time you use booking.com, it gives you a loyalty bonus and you’ll soon rack up some good deals. It also books instantly so your guaranteed a room. 

Vanlife – There’s a big vanlife contingent in Hossegor. So many surfers have the same idea as us, with life as low cost as possible. Whilst staying at the Le Surf Spot, we didn’t use the van much, other than carting our new made friends to and from the competition and surf. Once we’d been at the hostel for a week, we decided it was time to move on and get back into vanlife mode. Being October, it wasnt super busy around Hossegor, which meant the rules for free camping were a bit more lenient. We decided to do two nights free camping, one night at a campsite, off an on like this for the next week. We found the cheapest campsite of the whole trip in Capbreton, which was unusual seen as France was the most expensive in comparison to Spain and Portugal. La Civelle campsite in Capbreton was only 9.22Euros for one night. Perfect for a hot shower and to charge out gadgets and were off again. Keeping in mind, this price is for the offseason.

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You can basically stay anywhere on the side of the road where its not busy, right in town, Le Greviere or Le Penon. Theres so many spots, on the road or in big car parks which are vacant at night, a perfect spot to park for the night. Also like I said, this was the OFF season, so we took the “no campervans after 10pm” sign with a grain of salt and stayed anyway. There are also what the french call, Aire de camping cars. Leah touched on this in A guide to Biarritz where there’s a good app called pro mobile and has locations for these all over Europe. An Aire de camping car is a parking area for campervans, sometimes free of charge or a few dollars a night and usually includes power and sometimes even showers, toilets and wifi. Well worth it if you find one in a good location.

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WHAT TO DO:

Surf
Surfing here is renowned as one of the best spots in the world hence the reason for the Quicksilver pro Hossegor every October. We were lucky enough to surf from Capbreton all the way up to Seignosse, having the van made travel easy.

Capbreton – From the Les Dunnes area, up to the Capbreton surf club, if the swell is coming from the right direction, there’s bound to be waves. We found a good spot by the Aire de camping car Les Oceanies. A nice little left hand beachy which peeled away, was on fire. If the surf is huuuge up the coast in Hossegor or Seignosse, Capbreton is usually smaller and more fun. Check out the bunkers just south of the surf club. Big rock formations, which look like something from out of space and just landed on the beach. Cool place to get a quality wave.

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Hossegor and Seignosse – From Plage central (the part of the beach where Koala Surf camp is) through La Grievere, right up to Le Penon in Seignosse, there’s so many spots along this stretch is hard not to find a good peak to surf. We figured out that when the swell is modest (2-6ft) the further up you go, the better it is.

Picking up our mates Jake, Soph and Kel and meeting our friends from the Hostel, we gathered on a cool sunday morning just north of where the Quick Pro was held in La Greviere. With a decent crew of close to 10 surfers we all hit the waves together, for the last time. 3-4ft. Fun waves, even some typical Hossegor barrels sat up nicely for a good fun session. After catching a shit ton of waves, I decided the next one would be my last. Sitting right where it sucked up on the sand, I tucked into a heavy little close out barrel and got smoked. WOO!! Fun fun, until I get smashed up on the beach. For some reason I had an urge to check my board for damage…something I never do and WHAT!!! Where the F has my fin gone. Dammit, I thought, remember those fins I bought in Portugal?? Well now I have only two. Fin box completely ripped out, I had better get this bad boy into the shop. All in all, a wicked last surf with a sick crew, everyone getting involved.

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One of my favourite spots was Le Penon. With a few different spots that became my local, the dawnys and duskys were the best times. Staying in the car park right outside, the beach meant being in the water at first light, no one else around for at least 30 minutes. One morning, the day before some big swell was meant to arrive, I was up before sunrise at 8am. I had reluctantly pulled on my cold wetsuit and ran the 200m from our van to the beach. I got in the water and looked around. In one direction, I could see the colours of the sun on the horizon waiting to burst into life and on the other, the moon slowly making its way into the night, somewhere else in the world. Plane slip stream lines, left right and centre and not a cloud in the sky, I couldn’t believe the scenery around me. Better yet, 4-5ft waves without another human in sight. Living the dream.

Reading the swell report, we made the decision to drag out our time in Hossegor to see some big swell come through. Not even sure I’d surf it, just witnessing some big waves would be cool. Up early on yet another cool morning to check the waves and WOW! The swell had definitely come and it was BIG! Easily 8ft on the sets, these were by far the biggest and heaviest waves I had ever considered surfing. Usually I don’t get intimidated surfing at all, but I would be lying if I said I wasnt anxious standing on the beach ready to go. Walking along the beach, I found the spot I wanted to paddle out in. Waiting for the set to die out, I quickly got in the water and started paddling. Slowly but surely I made it closer to the lineup and suddenly a big set came rolling in.. SHIT SHIT SHIT I thought to myself, I do not want to get stuck on the inside. The first big waves landed just in front of me, ducking as deep as I could, I got through it and popped up paddling like crazy. Luckily the next three waves I just made it through. I can remember yelling to myself, Come on! You got this. I wasnt prepared to get off to a bad start and soon enough, I was out the back, a solid eight foot, I looked around and the other guys and could tell, they meant business.

Finding a good spot to sit, the waves peeling left and right, every wave would suck up into a heavy barrel. I thought to myself, shit I’m in too deep. On the beach, 50 or 60 people would gather to watch the spectacle in front of them and I wondered if maybe I should be there too. Too late to go back, I decided this would be it. I spent the first 20 minutes just watching others and seeing where they would sit and take off. Some crazy cats taking off so deep they dropped straight into the barrell. Uhh… maybe I’ll just sit a bit further out. My First wave was a solid left, I literally paddle like shit, stood up and clung to my rail like it was my life. I could feel the lip of the waves scooting over my head, I crouched some more and b-lined it to make it out the other side. To me, it felt like I was so deep in the green room I disappeared, but realistically I was probably still waiting at the door.

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Next I got a big heavy right, heart pumping from the last wave, I took off not so deep this time and managed to get in front of it enough to get a good ride down the line. After about 30mins of paddling out further every so often, in order to make the set wave, I caught another right hander. This time I was deeper than I thought. The offshore wind holding me back, I paddled and paddled and eventually dropped in to one of the biggest waves I’ve ever surfed. For someone whose used to solid 4ft out at Piha, this was serious game. I was deep, watching the lip fly high above me, I distinctly remember saying to myself “WHOLEY SHIT” then came the “CHAHOOO!!” it felt like forever, it just kept going, slowly mellowing out and I wasnt gonna stop. I surfed it right until it closed out and I was almost at the beach. Thinking about it now gives me the goosebumps, one of the most exhilarating surfs of my life, all on a board shorter than I am. Surfing smaller but still sizey waves that afternoon felt like a piece of cake.

Buying a board – On our way to surf Spain at the start of September we stopped in at Hossegor for two nights and this is where I bought my board. If you head to the factory outlets in the map below, theres shops from Hurley to Ripcurl, Billabong and Vissla and everything else you can think of. Both new and second-hand board shops here, you’ll find something for sure. I got a Ripcurl wetsuit from the Ripcurl shop and decided on a new board from one of the no name surf shops. Basically, I had looked around for a few days at second hand boards which priced from 200-500 euros…and that’s for a second hand board. I found the exact shape of board I was looking for (it wasnt any of the big brands like JS or Pyzel) but it has definitely treated me well and only 320Euros for the full setup. Not bad. Look around, take your time and you’ll find something that suits for sure.

Eating out
We don’t usually eat out a whole lot these days, but we had been recommended a few spots for amazing coffee and even better food. Hanging with our friends from Aussie, we splashed out at the few places.

Waxed cafe – owned by some British dudes who came and never left. Makes great coffee, good brekkie and has epic chilled vibes. Acai bowls and avo smash was the go to.

Megs cafe – Also run by some british dudes, coffee is to die for. Food is pretty simple, but yum. The pork burger was insane. We even saw Julian Wilson here with his girlfriend and our girl Sophie got in between for a photo. #fangirl

Cafe Bleu – Best coffee of the lot, we got a tall latte which was insane. Also the english breakfast was on point. The morning after Keanu Asing won the Quick pro, we sat next to him, had a yarn and left with smilies on our faces. Friendly dude he was.

Partying
We started off one night at the hostel, drinking with everyone and enjoying the cool vibes. After missioning it to Hossegor we hit up Coolin A La Plage, a bar on the beach, for some more party antics. The live band was on point, everyone on such good vibes, dancing and singing away. Freezing cold outside when Coolin closed at 2am, we were sure the night was over. Everyone spilled out into the square towards the beach and that’s when we spotted a club that could possibly be open. With 10 or so of us left and ready to go, we hit the club and sorry folks I don’t even remember the name. 10Euro entry gets you a free drink if you keep your ticket from the entry girl. Soon enough, the place was out of control, dirty dance music going off. Leaving at 6am meant for a good night and a big hangover. Well worth it.

Skating
Leah and I decided to buy skate boards, but being tight asses, we couldn’t afford anything from the sector 9 shop in Hossegor, so we hit Decathlon and got some cheap cool boards for 70Euros each. Theres so many smooth roads with modest hills in Hossegor and Capbreton, it makes for a good way to explore the towns. Sun shining, cruising down the road, it’s a good way to get around. We also hit up the skate parks in Cabreton by the primary school and another by the beach access in Le Penon. When the waves are flat, we skate.

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We’ve made some epic new friends, had some crazy times and enjoyed the unbelievable surf in these three towns. I can’t stress how epic it was, so if you’re doing the van life, it should be on the list of places to stop whether you surf or not. We’re hoping to get back to Hossegor next year, to once again enjoy the surf culture and live the dream.

Shaka
Bryn | free & addicted

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  • Brynmor Jones!! Please no more 8 foot waves you scare and worry me just reading about them. Otherwise another cool blog kids. Still living the life and making forever friends. Missin yas xx