Isn't there something just completely out of control when looking at France this size? The drops have real, spine-tingling consequences, the barrels are hard to make, near impossible in fact. But as Napolean once said, impossible n’est pas Français. Which means, impossible isn't a French word.
Just look! Jeremy Flores gobbled up under a lip so gracious and heavy that it'll sooner send you to the sand than invite you in, How courteous. Last week was a marvel, even by Hossegor's gorgeous standards.
And the Spartan, Michel Bourez, is in town: “It was such a good swell," he told MSW. "I was in Portugal and everyone was saying, this is the day, this is the swell. So I was cruising with Jeremy [Flores] all day, waiting for the tide to get better. We ended up surfing Culs Nus, after that, La Graviere as well, one of those days you could spend the whole day in the water, so that's what happened."
One thing that's every surfers' nightmare out there is the impossibly fast current. “Yeah, it was really tricky to be in the right place at the right time," said Bourez. "There were a few locals doing step-offs, we were catching waves, they were picking us up and dropping us back in the line up. Everyone was happy and got great waves.”
On the beach was UK-based photographer Alan Danby, usually found snapping around low-tide Croyde in North Devon. This was Al's first time down to the hallowed Hossegor playground. "Me and a few friends booked the week off work, hoping we would get some decent swell and maybe some last rays of sunshine this year," he said. "Turns out, we scored, the sun was shining and the waves were pumping all week, I even got burned."
As for his first impression? "It's such an epic set up down there, peaks as far as the eye can see and surfers charging left, right and centre. Really nice vibe down there as well, everyone was friendly and just stoked to be out in such good waves. Highlight has got to be seeing Bourez, Flores and Kauli Vaast trading back-to-back barrels at Culs Nus."
Irish surfer Craig Butler and photographer Kevin Doyle also hit the road for this one. "We competed at Irish Surf Nationals the previous weekend and we both didn’t do as well as we'd hoped," laughed Kevin. "To drown our sorrows, we decided to bolt down to France on promise of an excellent forecast.
"After a 17 hour ferry and a near 10 hour drive, we finally got there on the Wednesday. Lovely small swell greeted us to loosen us up after a lot of travelling. However, the next few days delivered proper autumnal French beachbreak barrels. Hell raising rips, several broken boards and some double overhead pits were the order of the week.
"Some of the pros put on a quality display of surfing including Jeremy Flores and Michael Bourez. On the way home now after an epic seven days, the best hit and run we have ever done. And looks like Ireland is about to deliver some autumn gold herself." Watch this space.
Travel guide: France
Feast on these back-to-back right hand juggernauts.
MSW forecaster Tony Butt breaks this one down: "The swell originated from a broad area of westerly winds stretching practically all the way across the North Atlantic, which persisted from Wednesday 5th to Friday 7th October. The windfield was the result of a north-south pressure gradient between a complex area of low pressure in the north, around Iceland, and high pressure in the south, stretching from the Azores up towards Biscay.
"Even though windspeeds were not super high, the sheer size of the windfield and the fact that it persisted for several days, meant that a medium-sized, long-lasting swell was generated, which reached southwest France on Thursday 6th and lasted through till Monday 10th.
"Wave heights peaked at over six feet on Saturday, and periods were a modest 12 to 13 secs. Shorter-period swells tend to coincide with a broader directional spread, which can sometimes be an advantage for beachbreaks. If the direction from which the swell lines approach the beach varies, the swell lines intercept and form peaks; whereas if they are all coming in from the same direction (which tends to coincide with longer-period swells) they will be more likely to close out.
"Finally, that finger of high pressure extending over France and a weak low over the Iberian Peninsula, meant that local winds in southwest France were light and from an easterly quarter, particularly in the mornings."