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SUMMARY
+ Top-quality beachbreaks
+ Hollow consistent waves
+ Empty beaches
+ Summer parties
+ Beautiful scenery
- No sheltered spots
- Frequent onshores
- Beachbreaks only
- Cold water in winter
Northcore



Hossegor, France, EUROPE


La Graviere, Roger Sharp

Surf Spots

Casernes
Le Penon
Les Bourdaines
Les Estagnots
Les Cul Nuls
La Gravière
La Nord
La Sud
L'Estacade
Le Prévent
Le Santocha
La Piste/VVF
Capbreton Pointe

The Surf

The 230km (145mi) of coastline called the Côte d’Argent is the longest uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach in Europe. Here, swells are focused on to the coast by the deep-water canyon (called the “Gouf”), which juts in towards the coast off Hossegor and are shaped by well-defined sand formations into top-quality beach breaks. Aside from the many small rivers and streams, which flow into the Bay of Biscay and shape the sand bars, there are some unusual formations called ‘baines’ - circular ‘lagoons’ of sand in the line-up, created by currents refracting and eddying off the Gouf. These bathymetric features combine to yield perfect, super-hollow beach break surf when conditions (swell, tide, and wind) are right. On the down side, there are few channels through the surf along the Côte d’Argent, so swells over 6-8ft tend to close out. Also, decent sandbars are likely to be washed away by major storms, so continual surf-checks are necessary to see which banks are working best. Add to this the fact that these breaks are heavily influenced by tide, and you have a situation where every day is a new day along the Cote d’Argent!

The southern part of Landes benefits from the deep submarine canyon that cuts through the continental shelf of the Bay of Biscay, pointing directly at the town of Hossegor. Known as the “Fosse de Capbreton” this swell-focusing trench (or ‘gouf’) is the reason that Hossegor has forged a reputation for being one of the best beachbreaks on the planet. Up to 3m, Hossegor’s beaches deliver exceptionally powerful, perfect peaks, often very close to shore and invariably hollow. When conditions conspire, spitting barrels can be spied far into the distance in either direction, spreading groups of surfers away from the main access points. On the downside, currents and longshore drift can be brutal, sandbars are constantly shifting, paddling-out channels are scarce at size, tidal ranges are large and wind protection is almost non-existent. However none of these factors have deterred the ever-growing crowds of riders and surf companies that call Hossegor home, helped by the fact that this corner of Europe’s Atlantic coast has the warmest water temps, allowing up to 4 months of rubberless surfing. Southern Landes is close to being a year-round destination, although big, cold beachbreaks at La Nord are not everyone’s idea of fun. Summer and autumn are the pick as the W-NW winds are at their lightest and the weather and water at their warmest

When to Go

Since the Côte d’Argent faces west, it receives very consistent high-latitude W-NW swells, which can reach up to 15ft. However, the angle of the coastline is not so good for the area’s dominant NW winds. As a cold front approaches, winds usually clock around from the SW to WNW, and storms, even in summer, are common. As storm cells pass over, the surf can remain blown out for several days with wet and windy conditions making the whole place a little depressing. On the other hand, when a high pressure system sits over the land, you will enjoy light offshore winds in the morning (about a third of the time), followed by a moderate NW seabreeze that blows from noon until dusk. Tide ranges can reach 14ft/4.5m on spring tides, and any sandbar can go from ugly mush to perfect peak in the space of an hour. Tide charts are essential on this stretch of coast, where the tide factor rules!

SURF STATISTICS
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW
swell size (ft) 7-8 6-7 5 3 6 7
consistency (%) 50 60 80 70 90 60
dominant wind W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW NE -E W -NW
average force F5 F5 F4 F3 F3 F5
consistency (%) 36 37 38 39 31 40
water temp (C) 12 13 17 21 18 15
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 springsuit 3/2 3/2
Population
8,000

Coastline
5,500km (3,500mi)

Timezone
GMT+ 1hr

Travel Information

Weather

It rains about 1500mm annually in the south of Les Landes (1 day out of 2). This is less than the Basque coast further south, where the Pyrenees mountains greatly influence the weather. It can be raining in Biarritz and only overcast or even sunny in Hossegor. Mid-summer will be light until 10.30pm, winter gets dark at 6.30pm. Stable weather from March to October. May and June are good months despite the cooler water. March-April can have occasional lukewarm spells with afternoon temperatures around 20°C (68?F), but spring is usually windy with low pressures from Iberia producing squalls, rain and choppy swells. Take a 5/4/3 fullsuit for winter, a 3/2 for mid-season, and a shorty or boardies for the warmer days.

Nature

The Côte d’Argent is an endless beach skirted by sand dunes and thick forests, so it’s easy to find relative wilderness as an antidote to the busy towns. At the beach, most women are topless, and full nudity is common along many stretches of the coast. Golf, sailing, water slides at Atlantic Parc, a skate park in Le Penon, plus crazy summer parties are some of the distractions. Rockfood is the most popular tourist bar. Winter is mellow.

Hazards

Beware when the surf gets big and stormy - rips are common and extremely powerful; many people drown every year. The water is not as dirty as the Basque Coast, but Capbreton harbour does throw out some unpleasant surprises. In the winter, beaches often get covered in rubbish washed up by big storms. Hossegor is a small town with a large surf community, so respect the locals - they are amazingly tolerant, although things are beginning to change. Look out for thieves and vandals (often-protective local surfers) when parking in forest spots.

Hints

There is a thriving surf industry growing up around the Zone Pédebert where you can easily get boards repaired or find a shaper. Most surf shops are open year round. Gear is expensive. You need a gun only for serious Gravière or La Nord. Try to learn some French; it will be appreciated. Driving and parking are tricky during the summer, when the whole of France is on holiday.

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