Stand up Paddle Surfing from a novices viewpoint - My complete journey
Saturday, June 28, 2008
A Little bit of French
Phew - bit of a shaky start with the ferry being cancelled on the Sunday night crossing but at least it gave us an extra day for our hangovers to wear off. Caught the 11pm boat from Plymouth into Roscoff and drove off the ferry into fantastic 8.00am sunshine.
Decided to take the coastal route down to the Vendee via St Nazaire and after 4 and a half hours on blissfully empty roads we pulled into Bretignolles sur Mer. North of Les Sables d'Ollonne and South of St Gilles. The camp site 'Les Dunes' had had a bit of an update since we were last there in October but the main difference was that the place was well and truly open! Novel experience for us Summer holidays!
We pitched our tent in our favourite #91 spot next to the boundary and the gate to the cycle piste and I checked out the surf. Onshore shite - no one in and no obvious sign of it improving. Arse, however The wind dropped overnight and an early morning check saw me grabbing my board for a solitary - lumpy but fun couple of hours - the little starboard never fails to amaze me - the more I get used to it the more it delivers and I had some fantastic waves in conditions that I would have thought twice about at home. A good incentive to stay on the board were the masses of jelly fish that were floating about in the surf.
I managed to get a varied mixture of waves in over the five days and four nights that we were there - the wind generally went offshore late evening and early morning giving me a range of big and munchy to chest high and clean
why is it that the pics and videos dont show the true scale of things? - I dont think that I'm a pussy but some of the stuff rolling through the morning I filmed was a fair size - yet the film shows it as tiny. Honest - it was (yes I am a fisherman and the one that got away was truly huge!!)
Still ropey video with loads of editing but the Ramones seem to help smooth things out a bit!
and a cracking little late afternoon session that was only a couple of foot but clean as - unbelievably I was the only stand up surfer there - and with about 13km of beach and limitless free access points within 5minutes walking of our tent, finding my own space was never a problem. The beach at Les Dunes is huge - If you thought 3 miles of Gwithian was a stretch this one appears to go on for ever not being as shallow as Gwithian there is a bit more of a shore dump at the top of the tide and the greater water depth seems to give a bit more punch to the wave than at home. We began to settle into a bit of a pattern of early morning and late evening surfs and afternoon (and later evening) bike rides to check the surf.
The area has over 300k of brilliant cycle piste which is fun,easy and family friendly - even with tag-a-longs and buggies. In fact our campsite had bikes available on site ready to rock although we took our own. We stayed at http://www.campinglesdunes a large, clean and incredibly well appointed site with mini golf - proper supermarket - water park and swimming pool etc etc etc. This is the fourth time that I been there - always camped always pitch 91 and always payed 20euros a night. The site is open from the 1st April until the 11th November - when the surf rocks. They also have mobile homes for rent at good prices especially just out of season (but with limited site services).
The village back to the main road has a bit of an odd 'ghost town' feel with a one way system that like everything else in France does not look like it should work - but does brilliantly. A few small cafe's and and family restaurants all great value all very friendly. We mainly ate mussels and drank loads of vin rouge and beer and cidre all for about 28 - 30 euros for the two of us.
We cycled the 5km or so along the coastal pistes cyclables north into town which was great fun plate of oysters - more wine and back. £8 for a dozen oysters and beer - fantastic.
North of where we camped is St Gilles - beautiful fishing port 15k by traffic free cycle path and the town is geared up to give cyclists priority - big long beach here as well as a breakwater about a mile long which is great for fishing off. Fantastic break and really chilled, easy living - camping is fun and civilised here - loads of space, not too many people (depending on season) bloody hot - we had 37.5'c at one point, and pretty much perfect if you had a young family and wanted to keep everyone sweet and still get some waves - while checking out your Autumn road trip.
Travelogue over - I'll be back here in October with the guys. - Check out the pics and videos if you want any more info ask.