Surfing in Brittany and the Vendee by Rob McLellan
I started surfing about 20 years ago and being land locked in the Midlands, I value every trip. East coast, west coast, I'll go anywhere if the conditions are right ,battling with the traffic, paying the endless car park fees and then diving into a packed sea and after scrambling for a few wind blown waves and a bag of chips, start the endless journey home.
Then I discovered Bretignolles in the Vendee. Right outside the gates is a perfect wave for longboarders [and shortboards with bigger swell and at high tide]. The weather is usually very good and mysteriously the wind blows off-shore in the morning. What's more there's no one out, well not during the week and out of season you can have the whole beach to yourself and walk back to your mobile home for croissants and coffee and its only10am.
After recharging the batteries out on the bikes through the pine woods to the south, keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels and hoopoe [an almost parrot like bird] and down to Les Sables for grilled sardines. On the way back and where a largish river heads for the sea check out the interesting reef break, I think it's called La Ganches, be prepared for some sights here because not only is it very good but it also borders a nudist beach so be warned!
If you've still got some energy for another session but it's gone a bit flat well head north through Bretignolles and take the coast road to La Sauzale. This is world class and not for the faint hearted but you can sit and dream and its flood lit! If it's a bit too rich head further north to St Giles De Croix, a town break with a lovely longboarding wave.
I’ve only been as far south as La Tranche but peep through the pine forest anywhere where there's gap and you'll probably find a wave when the conditions are right. If you prefer the smaller cove type bay head for Brittany where north of the sweeping La Torche with waves for every board and every surfer, you’ll find numerous rocky coves including the spooky Bai des Trepasses; this has to be one of the most beautiful surf spots anywhere in Europe.
Well the holiday is over and you're heading back for the ferry at St Malo, well pack up and go early because just west of the port are a couple more beaches and if there's a swell in channel they're well worth a look.
Back on the ferry now thinking how do I get back, what folks have got a spare week, can I afford it? A bit of overtime and a deal with Matthews, maybe late September to Bretignolles, lets send some emails, get a group together and go!
Surf forecasts for France or anywhere can be found on www.magicseaweed.co.uk and www.beachwizard.com describes lots of surfs spots in detail.