Whilst we’ve generally been culturally and geographically separate from Europe, well ever since Doggerland sank beneath the North Sea anyway, we are handily parked just offshore.
So a road trip through our continental cousins backyards is a breeze. Summer is a perfect time for a French or Spanish quest and the lands of warm water, fun waves and parties that go on a lot later than us Brits are used to is just a ferry ride away, or if you’re flush a brief flight. Here’s a look at some of the options.
If driving first things first make sure your chariot is a reasonable runner and you’ve got everything you need for European motoring. Check the AA or RAC websites for the essentials and make sure you’ve got your Euro car cover. Nothing worse than blowing up an engine on the French motorway. Ain’t nothing as surly as a French tow truck driver coming to get an Englishman. The one time we blew a camshaft on a French run with no cover it cost a grand to get the car back to the UK … Not fun. So make sure you’re covered. This is of course isn’t an issue if you’re flying and renting a motor or being shuttled around by some of the lovely surf camp folks.
The classic Euro summer trip is a whip down to the Hossegor region. Stunning food, wonderful place and of course world class surf. The entire French Atlantic coast is holding but it’s the south west that’s the prize.
Now Hoss’ in summer isn’t as empty as it used to be. But it’s not a stress, outside of the name Hossegor spots there’s a 100 miles of empty potential from Lacanau to the Spanish border. Often times the best bank on the coast isn’t in Hoss but near one of the smaller towns or in the forests. It pays to hunt around at high and low tides. Also take some binos for bank recon. Good camps and guides will tee you up with where’s best at what tides so you can make the most of your time. The nightlife is legendary and there’s food options to suit all budgets.
Just pass Hoss and the classy confines of Biarritz you hit Spain, technically the Basque Country, with it’s own distinct culture and flavour so always respect this as the locals regard themselves as Basque first and Spanish a distant second. Drop a pin anywhere in the north coast of Spain and you’ll find fun waves not far away. A relaxed culture, mad parties and tapas or pinxtos to keep you full. San Sebastian, Zarautz are all famous surf towns and you’ll have fun wherever you end up. Especially if it’s one of the ciderias up in the hills…
If you’ve got the time you can make it all the way along the north coast of Spain to Galicia. Sampling the wonderful variety of waves and tapas as you go.