Photos & words by Morgan Masseen
Ten days into our adventure, it became crystal clear... We had played into the French cliché perfectly. Adorning the surfboards and wetsuits of our van’s occupants, was the most perfect bundle of wine and cheese a non-European ever did see. It sat so delicately atop the gear, coddled by Red cameras and half the sand of Graviere. We all cherished it, having put in so much deliberation into the gathering of it’s contents, and were all holding our breathe for its execution. Our pride, our joy, our lifeforce… was a fruitbasket.
While the first week of waves had satiated our appetites aplenty, the swift kick of Fall’s winds and rain had misted our team with disillusion. Were we here to surf Europe’s world-class beach breaks, or were we merely entertaining our journey into French culture? Long hours were spent driving through dark forests, hoping the right opening would lead us to a promising sandbar. We drove north, south, east and west searching for answers. The countryside deceived us, telling us to try our hands at gastronomy, sightseeing, relaxing. We spent nights in the mountains, stargazing and living the life of yesteryear. We sipped wine at dusk in ancient harbours. We pinched our noses to the purest of pates. And we traversed kilometer after kilometer of empty road, searching... To Be continued.
Ando spent most of his time in France in the air. As fall set in, the sky grew darker, the winds brisker, and the conditions for him to launch his aerial assualt more perfect. On this day, he shared a lonely sandbar with just Dane, testing his ability against the approaching storm's winds.
After long sessions at empty beaches, nothing beckoned us more than the call of the local Boulangerie's coffee and cakes. However, on the more serene fall days such as this one, we struggled to find the will to leave the perfection of another French beach day.
Ando and his friends could not get enough of the waves France had to offer, and with the inclemental weather of winter approaching, a quick sunset surf after a day of rain was always greeted with extreme enthusiasm.
Too excited to to take the standard path down to La Piste's rippable peaks, Ando found a more fullfilling shortcut.
This encapsulates everything that is perfect about France to Craig: glorious evenings, empty beachbreaks, windy ramps, and a bottle of wine and pot of Mussels brewing close by.
Often times we adventured into the forest, which always surprised us with different rewards. This day held some of our most special sessions.
Ando, doing what he does best.
Dane, after trudging through the densest sand known to man, was pleased to find a desolate beach with plenty of wave options to goof around on with his Sperm Whale.
The forest of southwest France is deep, dark, and incredibly quiet. When not getting lost on it's wild roads, we would often stop to take in just how serene it really was.
In the fall, Hossegor and it's surrounding community shuts down, as the majority of its residents head back to their respective lives in the city. This made for a surreal playground of chateau's for Dane to film part of his magnum opus, Slow Dance, on the ever-shy Craig Anderson.
Dane sniffed out the biggest and best waves France had to offer. This day, there were no takers except for him and Craig, who traded off chaotic lumps of water for hours on end. Snapped boards littered the beach, beatings were aplenty, but the odd barrel like this made it totally worth it.
Ando's signature style took kindly to France's powerful waves.
Ando and Dane, enjoying the serendipity of what might have been the most beautiful beach day any of us ever had. Glassy conditions, perfect a-frames, wine, cheese, and not a soul around left us all smiling for weeks.
A brief interlude from the consistent beach breaks of France was found when we journeyed down to Spain to try out a prototype wave-pool. Dane tore the perfect wave to shreds, leaving us all wondering about the future of competitive and free-surfing.
Stay tuned for part 2 (deux)...