Lacanau found 50km to the west of Bordeaux situated on the Atlantic coastline of the Aquitaine and is blessed with over 2200 sunny hours per year, just as good as the French Riveria on the Mediterranean Sea. But all is not roses due to the westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean bringing mild and moist conditions throughout the year, it rarely freezes here but it does drizzle a bit!
Summer times June, July and August are busy with Lacanau-Ocean and its beach being the favorite for the bordelais, in fact the perfect escape from the bustle of city life ideal for surfers. The best out of season seems to be September and October with regular "Indian Summers" most years producing one of the top west coast resorts in France. Market day in Lacanau (all year round) is on a Wednesday, with lots of fresh local products including, poultry, cheese, fruits and vegetables.
The village has a huge number of hotels holiday homes, chalets and campsites (although you wouldn't know it as they are hidden in the forest) giving the village the possibility of accommodating over 35000 people. So as you will see Lacanau gets very busy in the summer holidays (between June and the end of August) while outside these dates becomes a village with an enjoyable beach culture and the right beat.
All the "fun" is down in the village of Lacanau-Ocean which is separated by about 6 miles from Lacanau and was conceived in 1884 and coming into the light in 1906 with the building of a train line from Bordeaux (The line was sadly closed in 1954).
Holidays here are about activity with 3 golf courses: l’Ardilouse (18 holes), La Mejanne (9 holes) and Baganais (9 holes) all open for non-members with local pro's to lead you in the right direction.
Cycle paths everywhere (really ! - everywhere), km's of bike tracks which will lead you through the forest and along the beach ideal for those flat days. Home of beach volley in France during the 1930's the village still holds competitions during the summer months. Horse riding: Lacanau-Ocean has riding schools and pony clubs for all levels and abilities Club de Lacanau Talaris, EquiPassion and Vitalparc are the three main options with forest treks, and amazing beach days.
The sea is dangerous (due to large rips) and only the most skillful swimmers should try, but the waves are a haven for body boarders, surfers and kitesurfers. If you don't like the sea, go and see the sleepy hamlets of Moutchic and Longarisse situated on the western side of the lake, a vast inland freshwater lake ideal for swimming, boating and sailing. Great for children who will enjoy paddling and swimming in the shallow water as a change from the waves.
The Malibu Open. If you are looking for water skiing or wake boarding a must is the stade nautique de Pitrot, with its 2 purpose built lakes protected from the wind by the pine trees producing classic water conditions; the perfect setup. (The Malibu Open takes place each year in July, a get together of the worlds best slalom and jumpers - the men's world slalom record was beaten here in 2007 by Jamie Beauchesne).
Surf City 1968 with the creation of the Lacanau Surf Club to the first Lacanau Pro international competition in 1979 the village of Lacanau has been renowned as one of the main surf spots of France. The 10 miles of north/south beach produces (when the tides, swell and sand banks are lined up) a classic surf zone.
The surfing zone of Lacanau-Ocean is split up into 6 main beaches, running from the north: Alexandre (you need your bike for this one), Campings (in front of the campsite Airotel de l'Océan), North (Lacanau-Ocean surf club), Central (if you want to surf in front of your car), South (further south!), and super south (southern car park).
The main central beach has sadly been over-taken by a car park which in its turn is surrounded by the custom built beach front with the usual number of surf shops, bistros, brasseries, bars, cafes (The Kayoc on the seafront is recommended for cocktails and sunsets) and restaurants for all tastes and styles.
Alexandre Beach: Works from 2-8ft with most west swells and a east/ southeastern wind. Rent, borrow or beg a bike and head off north from Lacanau-Ocean on the cycle path GR8 direction Carcans plage, after a few km on the trail you will end up at the forest house of Alexandre. Hide, lock or carry your bike to the beach situated over the dune - its a bit of a hike but can be worth it.
Campings Beach: The Campings beach ideal if you are tenting it as the peak is at the bottom of the campsite. As we all know the best surf is found on the Atlantic coast during the winter months when the big swells roll in. This is not to say that the summer is barren or that the Indian summer of September and October with warm water and less crowds is not perfect.
North Beach: From the 8ft up you will end up with some heavy closeouts. Situated just in front of the main Lacanau surf club (one of the biggest clubs in France) North Beach can get very busy with the surfing level in the water making it a very competitive peak. Depending on the sand banks, left and right and works from 2-8ft and best surfed on a rising mid-high tide.
Central Beach: Central beach during the summer, wow. Beautiful topless, surfboards and beach towels everywhere, longboards, retro, twins, crowded lineup, if that's what you are looking for this beach is for you.Watch out at high tide as the beach disappears. Out of high season you can get some great morning sessions before the crowds set in with the right tide / wind / swell combination. The beach of the Lacanau Pro which is held in August each year.
South Beach: Plage Sud or South Beach works like the rest of this 12km streach of Aquitaine coast from 2-8ft but over the years the peak in front of the Sud Cafe has given some serious sessions. Get the timing right and you will have one of the best sessions possible in Lacanau.. rising mid-high tide giving both lefts and rights.
Super South Beach: Head off south following the car park road to the south of Lacanau. Keep going until the road ends, park up and walk through the trees before crossing the dune (follow a path as this dune is fragile) and check out the sandbanks (a pair of binoculars is a good idea). These beach breaks work from 2-8ft...
Travel and transport. If flying in via Merignac airport (by the way - hiring a car is a great idea, nearly a necessity) find Saint Medard en Jalles and follow the signs from there (about 45 min's). The railway station of Bordeaux St Jean is the closest connection to Lacanau (Don't worry, this line does have a regular bus service to the village).
Traveling to Lacanau by car from the north; leave the A10 at Saintes (J25) follow signs for Royan. Find the Bac (ferry). Crossing of the Gironde is about 30 min. Watch out for queues in high season. Follow the route des Lacs through Grayan, Vendays-Montalivet, Hourtin and Carcans. By car from the south, leave the Bordeaux ring road (junction 8). Follow the RN 215 and the D6 until Lacanau. Or you can come off the A63 at Marcheprime, passing Blagon, Le Temple and Saumos before arriving in the village.written : 2005 / latest update : 2021