Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
As a devoted lover of surf culture, I’m always on the lookout for the best places around the world to catch the perfect wave — in view from land. My own version of “The Endless Summer” has taken me around the world from Rockaway, New York, to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, to Newquay, England, where I’ve learned to embrace and love everything there is about surf culture (except for actually surfing).
The latest tick off my hang 10 bucket list was Hossegor, located about 25 miles north of Biarritz on the southwestern coast of France.
This tiny beach town is a haven for surfers from all around the world. It’s an impressive expanse of coast, ringed with powdery sand and water that fades through all shades of blue. The French government has kept development along the coast to a minimum. Here, it’s sand and shore for miles, with dramatic mountains in the distance.
Hossegor’s shoreline stretches for about 4 miles, with surfing being popular along both the north and south beaches (in between there is a nudist beach called “Bare Bum Beach”). Hossegor is known for its international surf competitions, namely the Quiksilver Pro France and Roxy Pro France, held in the summer.
I visited Hossegor in mid-May, just as the town was waking up from its winter slumber. But the summer months in Hossegor are especially vibrant, pulsing with energy that seems to vibrate out from the small square along the beach area. Here, travelers will find a few moderately priced restaurants, the most popular being Rock Food, which serves burgers, sandwiches and seafood and plays a running loop of surf footage on a big screen. Its beachfront location and floor-to-ceiling windows adds another level of appeal, especially during sunset or when a big swell is coming in.
Meanwhile, downtown Hossegor is a modern-style hamlet city center with outdoor cafes that spill onto impeccably clean sidewalks. The design of the town swings modern suburban, rather than French countryside quaint. (For the latter, take a roughly 25-minute drive into the nearby medieval city of Bayonne.)
The economy in Hossegor is based around surfing and surf culture, so devotees will find that their favorite brands — such as Roxy, Quiksilver and Rip Curl — have outposts along the main drag. About a15-minute drive away from Hossegor proper are a string of surf-shop outlets, which sell everything from bikinis and wetsuits to on-land attire at a fraction of regular retail price.
But even those who aren’t interested in surfing or surf culture can find things to do in Hossegor. On the other side of town is an expansive lake, where paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking are popular. Additionally, Hossegor has a golf club (Golf Hossegor), bikram yoga centers such as Yoga Bikram Hossegor, tai chi schools and even a hammam or Turkish bath (Hammam Kafane).
For those who are interested in learning to surf, numerous surf schools, such as Ki Surf School, organize group and private lessons throughout the season.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel de la PlageFor something directly on the beach, consider Hotel de la Plage. Popular with surfers who opt out of beach camping, this three-star hotel overlooks the ocean, with perks such as 24-hour room service and all-day breakfast. Pets are welcome, as well. On property are a bar, restaurant and spa with a Jacuzzi tub.
Hotel Les Hortensias du LacThe four-star Hotel Les Hortensias du Lac is arguably the best hotel in town, located between the beach and the lake. The resort has a combination of rooms, suites and apartment-style rooms, as well as a restaurant, lounge bar and pool. Hotel guests can rent bicycles, take surf lessons or purchase a golf pass to the nearby golf course.