THINKING of heading to France this autumn? If so you probably have Les Landes on the brain and some Hossegor drainers invading your dreams.
Home to the European surf industry and a round of the ASP World Tour, most attention focuses on Hossegor, flanked by Seignosse and Capbreton making up a small part of the Côte d'Argent, a 145mi / 230km uninterrupted sandy beach, the longest in Europe. Set-up wise it is pretty simple so long as the sand conspires with you and the beach is impossible to miss. Turn left if you're heading north, right if you're going south. But finding that the pumping picturesque La Gravire you have seen everywhere is actually a shoredump due to lack of sand is not uncommon.
Picking up all available Atlantic ripples Hossegor can be a dream destination if you know what to expect and a rippy annoying crowded nightmare if you don't. Rivers, streams and what are known as 'baines' (refracted currents) break up the featureless beach allowing perfect but shifty sand formations.
This constant flux allows locals to escape the tourists and makes your best bet buying a local a beer and pumping them for info. Don't be alarmed if your local speaks with an Aussie accent, it isn't called Aussie-gor for nothing.
Best option is to bring or hire a car but if that proves impossible get on your bike and open up a whole stretch of the coastline.
© Nico Chapman