Offering both intense sensations and an incredible sense of freedom, kitesurfing has established amongst surf sports as one of the very best ways of testing your limits and surpassing yourself. A physical activity practised on all the world’s oceans, kitesurfing provides limitless pleasure and enjoyment for water sports fans everywhere.
As well as the incredible sensations of gliding across the water it involves, the sport also provides the opportunity to spend time surfing in natural settings of exceptional beauty. Ease of access, geographical locations, weather conditions: discover my five favourite places to kitesurf in France below.
The Glénan Islands
The Glénan Archipelago counts amongst the best spots in France. A veritable Breton paradise, the Glénans are an archipelago of islands lying out in the sea off the coast of Brittany and located in the French department of Finistère.
Forming part of a protected nature reserve named Natura 2000, the archipelago is made up of around a dozen main islands together with countless little islets. Because it lies out in the sea off the coast of the French town of Concarneau, the Glénan Archipelago has to be reached by boat. If you know how to sail, you’ll be able to get to the various different islands by yourself.
Otherwise, you’ll need to get a boat to take you across to the archipelago. The best time to surf at the islands is when the tide is particularly high. This allows you to travel from island to island, making the most of the vast expanses of clear turquoise water, and avoids the potential risk of hitting any rocks there might be. For a unique experience, and to make things even easier and more convenient, you could also plan ahead and arrange to have a boat tow you.
With its islands edged with white sandy beaches, the Glénan Archipelago is notable for hosting the famous Glénans Fun Cup each year. Freestyle, freeride, competitions… As of 2019, this friendly, enjoyable event is now also open to kitesurfers as well as windsurfers. This provides yet another good reason to visit and explore this exceptional spot, which can hold its own with the most beautiful tropical beaches the rest of the world has to offer.
The Giens Peninsula
White sandy beaches, plenty of surf sports activity… the Giens Peninsula in the south-west of France (specifically in the department of Var in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azure region) is another exceptional kitesurfing destination. With its wild, untamed scenery and Mediterranean-blue sea, the Giens peninsula has a wide variety of surfing spots to choose from.
Depending on the weather conditions, the direction of the wind on either side of the peninsula, the strength of the waves, and on whether or not you want to kitesurf on shallow water, Giens has an extensive choice of natural spots of exceptional beauty to offer. A host location for the Kitesurfing World Cup, Giens has plenty of kitesurfing opportunities for everyone from complete beginners to top-flight professionals.
Once a former fishing village and now a major seaside resort, Le Grau-du-Roi has managed to keep the charm and wild, raw beauty of its beaches preserved and intact. Located in the Gard department of south-west France, the area offers the advantage of being well exposed to the wind, making it possible to get plenty of air and indulge in the pleasures of freestyle jumps out in the bay.
With its large expanses of sand (particularly at Espiguette Beach) providing good places for practising and learning to steer and control the kite, Le-Grau-du-Roi is also a perfect spot for learning to kitesurf. Offering a wide range of choices when it comes to equipment hire and lessons with qualified instructors, the bay is not a dangerous location, which makes it easy for beginners to make rapid progress.
Lying on the Atlantic coast in the south-west of France (in the country’s Gironde department), Arcachon Bay is home to a number of kitesurfing spots. Depending on the tides, the wind strength, the currents and your particular skill level (beginner or expert), some of the sites can be more suited to learning than others, but all the spots offer the opportunity to kitesurf in the wonderfully scenic surroundings of France’s Nouvell-Aquitaine region.
La Hume (ideal for beginners), Les Arbousiers, Eole, Betey: each of these spots has its own particular advantages and disadvantages. The water in the bay itself is shallow and the waves almost non-existent, but once you get away from the coast, the waves of the Atlantic Ocean instantly begin providing intense excitement and sensations. Here once again, many of the spots out amongst the fine sandy banks are accessible by boat, and offer idyllic surroundings for kitesurfers who enjoy riding out amongst the waves.
Baie de Somme
The sole stretch of coast in Picardie (in the Hauts-de-France region of north-west France), Baie de Somme extends for almost 70 kilometres (roughly 44 miles). Though it’s the smallest section of coastline in France, Baie de Somme has nevertheless been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998 due to its ecological richness.
Made up of a succession of marshes forming a breathtaking landscape, this well-preserved part of France’s Côte d’Opale coastal region is home to a highly diverse range of plants and animals. As well as being completely suitable for beginners, the various spots around Baie de Somme, such as Cayeux-sur-mer, Fort Mahon and the one at Crotoy (one of the most accessible, as it’s located at the mouth of the bay and only accessible at high tide), also offer everything required for good freestyling.
Providing an unequalled sense of freedom, kitesurfing is today attracting more and more water sports enthusiasts to its ranks. No matter whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, the incredible sensations kitesurfing provides are increased tenfold by the beauty of the landscapes and scenery of the French coast, which sometimes makes us feel as if we’re at the very ends of the world.