A week on the west coast | Surfing & cycling | Lacanau Océan, France

After working the winter in Flaine, and a quick trip to the Cumbria, we decided that we wanted our interseason holiday to include some surfing. We’ve both had one lesson in Cromer but that was a bit of a hangover fail. This time we wanted proper surf and to get some more lessons. I booked (super cheap) flights to Bordeaux, six nights at Villa Zenith Hostel and off we went.

Our travel day to Bordeaux from Manchester consisted of us getting a train at 6.51am from Lancaster, a panicky three hours of almost missing our flights due to the insane queues at Manchester, then having 5 minutes to spare before the gate closed. We then took an hour bus to Gare St Jean in Bordeaux, then the two hour 702 bus to Lacanau Océan. We arrived just before 7pm and checked into the wonderful Villa Zenith. For a bit of luxury, we booked a superior double room in the Surf Annex. The double rooms are super spacious, have their own ensuite and have access to a private kitchen

We spoke to our hostel friends when we arrived and they said that the surf conditions were supposed to be good the next day so we quickly called Magic Surf School and organised to meet them the following morning. We spent our first evening watching sunset from the Beach House with a bottle of rosé.

On the morning of our first lesson, we had to rent bikes as we had to get ourselves to Lacanau Super Sud beach to meet our instructor. We found Nomade who rented us beach bikes for €11.50 a day for three days. After a bit of a rush getting wetsuits then cycling to Super Sud, I realised I forgot our bloody bike locks so we had to push our bikes UP THE DUNE, (the sandiest and hottest dune ever!!..but made for a good photo) then quickly grab our boards and meet the rest of our class. We had a really good experience with Magic Surf School and I recommend them if you have a car (or bike lock!) because Super Sud is a quiet beach and the instructor got in the sea to help us. We both managed to stand up by the end of the two hours.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf ~ John Kabat-Zinn

We made great use of the bikes by cycling 80km over the next two days as the weather and surf forecast was not in our favour. Luckily Lacanau Océan has loads of developed cycle paths that take you north and south through the pine forests, nature reserves, remote beaches and to some of the freshwater lakes in the area. We spent an afternoon at ‘Lacanau Pond‘ swimming and napping.

Despite us both being a bit crap at surfing, we decided to rent boards and have a go ourselves instead of getting another lesson. Although the sun and the good weather had returned, the waves were still a bit churny (technical surf term?) and looked slightly intimidating. We hired boards and wetsuits from Banana Surf School right on the beachfront and attempted over two hours of surfing a.k.a flailing around in the super strong currents. We had fun but it was not our finest hour. We spent the rest of the hot afternoon on the beach wondering why we are so crap at surfing.

On our last full day in Lacanau, I opted to get a lesson from Banana. I preferred this surf school as it didn’t require a hike up a huge dune and it was cheaper – €35 for 2 hours with all equipment included. I loved my instructor and I will definitely go back to Banana again. I feel like I progressed quickly in this lesson despite the strong currents and weekend crowds on the beach. We also spent most of our afternoons at their bar too, which had a nice vibe and cheap drinks.

I am already planning on when we can return to Lacanau Océan, maybe September when the crowds die down and we can bring our campervan. We’ve had a great week here and feel like there is still so much to do and explore.

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