Surf trip along the French coast Wild Campers styleMartijn Ronday
I roll down my window and a cool breeze flows inside as I approach the toll booth. My credit card and ticket stuck between my lips, the radio softly playing French music, and the girlfriend and dog sound asleep in the back. The toll system tries to charge me category 2, but that’s incorrect. So I press the button for assistance. “Oui?”, says a grumpy sounding voice on the other end. In my best French I reply: “Bonsoir. Je suis classe une.”. Although not perfect, the man understands me and complies with an even grumpier voice “OK, bye!”. The amount drops about €20,-. I feel victorious and pay with a smirk on my face. The gate opens and invites me into the dark void ahead. We’re on our way home and I’m about halfway into my graveyard shift. To stay awake, I visualise the past surf trip.
Off to a good start with the Dude
I have high hopes for this surf trip for a couple of reasons. First of all, It’s our first proper surf trip together in a camper van. Secondly, we our meeting our friends, but most of all with the forecast it looks like I might get a chance to get my first proper barrel.
In this post you can read more about the Dude, also you can get to know him and more about a secret barrel pact in this video ->
We spend our first nights at Crozon in Brittany. An absolutely amazing part of France, I must admit. We’re not blessed with a lot of waves, but everyday it’s just enough for one or two sessions on a longboard. To be honest, a longboard really suits the area. Big tidal differences provide you with plenty of opportunities throughout the day. Beaches face different directions, so it leaves you with plenty of options for different swell and wind directions.
Want to know if it’s high or low tide without using an app or a chart? Watch this useful guru knowledge ->
Off the beaten track
The area we’re in is well mapped and most surf spots are known. The great thing about a camper van is that you’ve got everything with you that you need. So in the morning we drive off and start exploring. A local told us about a secret surf spot that might have some waves this morning. We decide to check it out.
Unfortunately, the waves are too small but we get some amazing views, enjoy the sun, and get the chance to spend some quality time with one of our friends. It’s clear we really have to go on a mission today to find some waves. We’re not too bothered by it because now we can start exploring. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to just start following the coast line and go off the beaten track. That’s just what we do, and we get rewarded with beautiful scenery, great beaches, and delicious coffee. Good times. By chance we meet a local guy, who now lives in our home town, and he provides us with a ton of information about the right conditions for the region.
Time to move on
I don’t know if any of you recognise this, but when I’m travelling I always get restless after a couple of days. I feel like I’m missing out somewhere else. This time however, I could be right because there’s a lot more swell predicted further down South. So we say goodbye to our friends and continue our journey. Not a moment too soon. The weather takes a change for the worse and it starts poring down. Our initial plan is to drive for only a few hours. Due to the weather though, we decide to push on. That’s another great thing about travelling this way. We totally make our own plans. Finally, it starts clearing up as we approach Mimizan. We have some friends working here for the surf season and decide to surprise them.
The next morning we say our goodbyes once again and drive even further South towards the Hossegor region, some 800 kilometres from where we started yesterday. The weather is great and we claim a piece of a parking lot as our base camp. The only thing missing is a big Dutch flag. A quick view over the dunes tells me I should prepare my longboard. Probably for the last time this surf trip, because of the upcoming swell.
The Hossegor region is famous for its waves. In the water I notice real power in the waves even though they’re only waist high. Reason for that is the bottom contour. It stays deep till quite close to shore. This allows the waves to hold their energy all the way till they stand up at the beach. Weirdly enough, I feel uncomfortable surfing here all by myself. The place has got a special kind of energy to it. I wonder how I’ll manage when the swell’s bigger. Will I get barrelled? My hopes for this trip are higher because of an upcoming week of surf coaching.
During a good two hours of surfing I work up quit an appetite, so I start preparing dinner. Luckily enough, I’ve got all the skills to transform any meal into a gourmet meal 🙂
More of this please!
The following days we feel as free as we have ever felt. Everyday we wake up with the smell of the ocean nearby, the sound of singing birds, and the warmth of the morning Sun. We brew our own coffee, get warm croissants at local bakeries, and surf till our arms fall off. What the hell was that?! My thoughts abruptly get interrupted by loud sounds coming from the wheels of our Wild Campers van. Ah, I see. We just crossed the border with Belgium. This means we’re almost home now. We’re almost within range of Dutch radio stations. This surf trip has come to an end. Pretty soon all that’s left are our memories, photos and videos. But don’t feel sad. We’ll be back soon enough, and next time maybe even with a camper van of our own.
More vlogs about this surf trip in this playlist