Action photos and concept by Maarten van Ochten and Hub Dekkers | English text (translation) by Tom Soltysiak
Maarten heading out.
France offers a huge variety of conditions for surfing, making it also is an ideal destination for wave SUP. From the quiet beaches of Normandy in the north, to the buzzing beaches near Biarritz in the south, there are plenty of waves to discover! Brittany, especially the peninsula of Crozon, is one of the favorite places to go. It is relatively quiet, and the waves are perfect for SUPers of all levels! The location offers all sorts of conditions, making it accessible to those who would like to venture out into the waves for the first time, as well as those keen to push their level in Wave SUP.
“Four years ago, a friend of mine invited me to discover the waves of Brittany. I had only got into SUP a few months earlier. Real Atlantic Ocean swell I had never surfed. The trip was great! We paddled so much that weekend we that we could barely stand by the end of the trip. In the meantime I traded my 10’8 from back then for a nifty 8’0 performance board. I was hooked, and have since visited the spot many times, and always keep a close eye on the forecast for that region. If the forecast looks good, I always get excited and begin to organize another trip.
Hub after another great session.
“Last summer, Hub asked if I wanted to join him for a SUP trip to Brittany. I was well prepared with my new 7’4 JP Widebody, which I just received a day before our departure. The trip was amazing! Every day we were out in the break for at least 8 hours and I managed to catch some great waves. About a month later we went again, and found conditions even better than before. Same recipe. Paddling all day, until my body couldn’t take any more, it was fantastic! The great thing about Brittany is that you get all sorts of waves. Small, big, fast, etc, you can really find the perfect waves to improve your level quickly!
Crozon has many beaches where you can access the sea. There are conditions for everyone, from beginner to advanced..
This is the most “happening” spot on Crozon. The last stretch of the drive, passing the height limiting beam (max 1.90m), bouncing down the hill, you will probably be thinking “this can’t be right”. Drive carefully, especially when the ground is wet, as puddles can be much deeper than expected and will damage your car significantly. On busy days it can be hard to find a parking space. When you see a lot of cars parked at the top of the hill, you can assume that the parking near the beach is full as well. However, it often pays off to give it a try, as you are likely to still find a small space near the beach, saving you a long walk.
While driving down, the Atlantic Ocean looms up ahead. It is tempting to watch the waves rolling in, but force yourself to keep your eyes on the road until you are parked, to avoid any costly repairs on your car.
La Palue is a big bay with a couple of breaks that work really well, especially on high tide. From the middle of the parking lot, a small set of stairs runs down to the beach. The beach is also accessible from the left and the right of the parking through the dunes.
Straight out in front and a little to the right are the two most popular surf breaks. The level is high, and the surfers would not appreciate you joining the lineup on an SUP at these points. There are however plenty of waves to satisfy everybody, stretching along the entire bay, further away from these two crowded peaks.
A little more to the right, just in front of the rocks, a very nice right hander forms. On a bigger swell, you can position yourself a little further out to sea and you’ll find yourself often alone or with only a few others enjoying this wave. Remember, as it is in front of the rocks, there is no bail out zone, and when things go wrong, your board could end up taken onto the rocks.
To the left of the parking lot, there are two more breaks that are usually very nice as well, and much less crowded. In front of the WO II remains, there is typically a channel to get out easily, but could be closing out on a larger swell. The wave breaks to either side of the channel, so you can choose whether you prefer to ride frontside or backside.
You can navigate to La Palue at the following GPS coordinates (48.204062,-4.551409)
Hub hitting the lip.
During low tide the waves at La Palue lose their quality, becoming smaller and losing their push. This might be the right time to grab some food and take a rest from your session before the tide comes back up. If not, you could simply head over to the next spot, Lost Marc’h which is located a just north from La Palue, and can be seen under the cliffs when looking north from the La Palue parking lot. At low tide, it is possible to walk from La Palue to Los Marc’h over the beach. Don’t be surprised by the naked bodies, as this part of the beach is reserved for nudists.
Lost Marc’h can get crowded quite fast because of its limited area for surfing. Normally there are two peaks, one left and one right. The right-hander is especially nice, a long wave rolling in toward the beach, often reforming over and over again. Since you are paddling just under the cliffs, the wave usually more sheltered from the wind than other spots. When approaching the rocks, the current will pull you right out into the lineup, and on bigger days, it will take you right next to the rocks. Naturally this might result in a little uncomfortable feeling, so it is certainly a challenge for the daredevils out there.
You can navigate to Lost Marc’h at the following GPS coordinates (48.212391,-4.554931)
When the waves at La Palue and/or Lost Marc’h be a little too big, or to get away from the crowds, you can consider heading over to the bay of Le Goulien. The spot is more protected, so waves are typically smaller than what you will find at the other breaks. There is also a large parking lot right at the beach, making it an ideal spot for families with children.
The bay is big, and provides plenty of space for everybody. Depending on the direction of the wind, it is best to access the beach either from the south (Goulien) or the north (Kerloch). Along the edges of the bay, the waves tend to be quite small, but increase in wave height as you make your way more to the centre of the bay.
There is a small reef on the north side in the middle of the bay. It is always submerged, at both low and high tide, and makes for some very nice waves. You will be paddling in front of cliffs however, so this is not a place to bail out when things to go wrong!
You can navigate Gouline at the following GPS coordinates (48.24191,-4.544824)
You can navigate Kerloch at the following GPS coordinates (48.257741,-4.555939)
Hub: back site turn.
BEST TIME TO GO
The most important thing to check are the waves. If there is no swell in the forecast, save yourself the trip, and wait for a better forecast. Look for a swell of at least 1 meter, preferably with a longer period. A 3 meter swell is very solid, and all spots will be working, including the sheltered Goulien. As far as maximum, that is your choice. Last winter, waves in Brittany were measured up to 13 meters.
As the swell increases, the period is usually longer as well. A period of 10 seconds will be enough to provide proper waves with some serious push (especially at incoming tides). This is typically the minimum period to look for in the forecast, as anything shorter is unlikely have much power to it.
“One time we scored a session I will always remember. Back in the holiday home we were checking forecasts for that day. Height 0.9 meters, period 19 seconds. I remember doubting if we could surf at all that day. Once at the beach at La Palue it became quite obvious. Sets were rolling in double over head with massive force. Since then, while checking the forecast, we always pay more attention to the period instead of the swell height.”
When waves at La Palue are between 2.5 and 3 meters, it is worth checking out the bay at Goulien. Waves are usually between 0.5 and 1 meter smaller compared to La Palue, and break more gently, allowing for easier surfing.
Winds can be a real deal breaker in SUP. The best will be no wind at all. When there is a little wind in the forecast, it is preferable to have it blowing offshore. Especially with SUP, a stronger offshore wind will make it extremely difficult to paddle into a wave. The ideal wind direction is NE-East, which is offshore for La Palue, but it is SUPable in anything from N to South-East. When expecting to surf at Goulien and Kerloch on a larger swell, then anything between SW-NW is okay in terms of wind. West winds are onshore at all the spots, making the waves mushy and messy which is not what you want.
For those that really want to focus on the best conditions, they also need to account the coefficient. Ideally will be not too high and not too low tide.
Windguru usually provides a very accurate forecast. Magicseaweed is also an optional although the quality of the forecast is a bit of guessing. Then there are some good local French weather sites which can provide you a good forecast to,
One more thing to pay attention to is the fog, which you can typically see in the forecast. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing the waves break, but being stuck on shore due to limited visibility.
HOW TO GET THERE
Crozon is a peninsula, just below Brest, in the upper north west of France. The only real option to get there is by car. Depending on where you begin your journey, you should head for St Malo. Enter Morgat into your navigation system, and you will be taken to the biggest town closest to La Palue.
The French toll roads are in very good condition, and tolls are quite reasonable. Pay attention to the speed limits, as the police regularly patrol the highways. Fines must be paid on the spot in cash – otherwise you will be taken to the nearest ATM to withdraw money. This is not the way you want to start or end your SUP trip!
Tip: Fuel up regularly! As you get further into Brittany, the number of gas stations decreases rapidly, and even the ones next to the highway close around 10pm. It can be quite a tricky when you’re stranded for the night without fuel!
If breaking up the drive with an overnight stop, we recommend staying at one of the F1 hotels. They are the best value hotels, and can be found in major cities along the way. The last F1 Hotel driving into Brittany is near St. Brieux, about 1.5-2 hours from La Palue. To find the nearest F1 hotel you can use the Accor Hotels app from the different app stores.
Hub getting tubed!
The peninsula of Crozon isn’t very big, and accommodation options are limited. There are several camp sites in the area, including Camping Goulien and Camping Les Pins. Camping Goulien is within walking distance to the beach, and popular with many surfers. Camping Les Pins is located a bit further inland, and therefore more quiet. Both camp sites offer tent camping, but also rent out so called mobile homes and wooden holiday homes. It is recommended to make a reservation for those, especially in the busy summer season.
Next to the campsite there is also a nice hotel in Morgat offering rooms for a decent price. It’s quite big and normally you should be able to find a room to stay. Booking can be done at websites such as ‘booking.com’. There you can find several Hotels and apartments.
There are also two parks with holiday houses. These houses are very nice, clean and it is nice and quiet. When going with a larger group, this is often the best option. Again, make sure to make reservations if going in the summer season.
Camping Goulien (http://www.camping-crozon-laplagedegoulien.com/)
Camping Les Pins (http://www.camping-crozon-lespins.com/)
In Crozon you will find a large Le Clerck supermarket, where you can find almost anything you would like. In Morgat, close to the holiday houses and across from the hotel, is a smaller supermarket with more basic supplies. If eating out, there are nice restaurants along the boulevard in Morgat, with good food at fair prices.
“Driving back, in the car, after a successful trip, talking about the waves, awesome! The goal during these trips is to spend as much time or more on the water in comparison to the driving time in the car. It was great that we managed to do this trip again!
Maarten enjoys the waves and the scenery!