The Ultimate Guide to La Torche Surf

by Tom Lacmundy

The La Torche surf is the piece de resistance of the Brittany surf scene. Oodles of peaks for all levels spread out on a wide beach. You won’t get bored!

La Torche surf

Surfing in La Torche at a glance

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The good

  • Loads and loads of beach peaks
  • Consistency
  • Beautiful Brittany setting

The bad

  • Gets real busy in summer
  • Exposed to westerlies
  • Hard paddle out

Read more guides to surf destinations in France

What’s in this guide to La Torche surf?

An introduction to La Torche surf

Think Brittany. Think La Torche. Yep, this is the most famous spot in all of France’s north-western department. For good reason, too. Boasting a massive beachfront that scythes for 10+ clicks across the coast, it faces the brunt of the big Atlantic. Swell magnet doesn’t quite do it justice – literally the smallest pulses that come in W or NW will power the breaks up, not to mention refracting SW swells. Basically, there’s riding virtually every day of the year.

In terms of the waves, they are classic Breton bawlers. Fat, frothy, chopped by wind, but good for the soul. Some conditions – SW swells, easterly offshore, low winds – can see things get hollow on the La Torche surf, especially if you head down toward the point and reef breaks closer to the headland. However, for the most part the surfs here will be sandbank wedges that go left, right, and sometimes close out. There’s also a tricky paddle out, but much of the bay is fantastic for beginners to boot – just look at all the surf schools that are around.

Reliability is key, so there are majority surf days from December to December in La Torche. That said, pancake conditions mean you get to explore the gorgeous surroundings of Brittany. That comes in the form of fantastic Finistère. Rugged, wave-bashed and breathtaking, it’s filled with coves and crevices and clifftops that are a real ocean lover’s dream come true!

Where is La Torche?

La Torche pokes out of the very north-western edge of France. It faces the open Bay of Biscay to the west and spreads out along the wide dune lands and sporadic forests of the Audierne. That makes it a part of the famous Finistère region (yep, it was a place before it was a brand!), which is, in turn, a corner of of Brittany. Paris is around six hours away by car. The ferry ports at Calais are about eight hours away by car.

surfing in La Torche

A guide to the best surf spots in La Torche

La Torche surf goes from the mellow peaks of the sands to the north all the way to the point itself. It’s mainly all sand-bottomed but there are a few reefs and point breaks to sample…

Tronoën

Tronoën is technically a part of the La Torche Beach. However, we make special mention of it here because it’s one of the places where the waves can mellow across the Audierne bay and offer nice beginner peaks, totally without any crowds. Rips do exist, but they also tend to be easier going.

La Torche beach break

The main beach at La Torche runs for a mega seven miles north to south. That’s seven miles of endless peaks to surf! The most popular places are the easy-to-access breaks to the south end of the bay. It’s a cinch to park up and paddle out there, but line ups are always busier in the south. There’s a consistent rip – known to locals affectionately as the Elevator – that can help you hop out back. On good days of SW-W-NW swells with easterly offshores, you can look forward to neat walls that are rippable and sectiony. Even a few barrels when it kicks up 8-10 foot in the winter. Head to the north end of the bay to look for spots to yourself. Beware of pop-up rips. Lots of locals but not much localism.

Pointe de La Torche

Pointe de La Torche marks the southernmost edge of the huge bay of Audierne. It’s a rugged little block of rock that juts directly westwards into the Atlantic Ocean. Wrap-around SW swells and head-on westerlies when their mellow can come off the point to offer some neat little rights. You’ll probably be too busy on the beach peaks to even think about this one, but some locals might make the effort to paddle out.

Pors Carn

The more sheltered beach of Pors Carn lies just south of Pointe de La Torche. The sand here turns into a mix of powder and rocks, which shapes any wrapping SW or W swells into nice A-frames and short tubes. They are fun, fast rides that get popular when working, but you still won’t get the same crowds as up on the La Torche beach break.

 Les Etocs 

Massive winter north-westerly swells can cook up big 2-5 metre waves at this XXL spot. It doesn’t work often but it’s a gnarly contender when it does. Only for experts who know exactly what they’re doing.

Where to stay when surfing in La Torche

Les coquilles la Torche ($$)

Take the family to the waves by booking this two-bedroom gite. It’s not far from the breaks and has 65 square metres of living space, along with a communal dining area and a green garden. Cosy any time of the year, well rated, and near the top surf spots.

Campsite Les Genets ($)

A four-star camping site with lots of welcoming amenities, this one’s a doozy for budget-conscious travelers looking to get their fix of La Torche surf. The waves are a short drive of about 5-10 minutes. However, the comfy, value caravan accommodation and on-site pool should pique the interest of some.

Le Trymen ($$)

Le Trymen is a charming Breton B&B. It offers doubles and triples just around the coastline from the main La Torche surf spots. They all get access to a lovely on-site bar and crepe restaurant, along with mod cons like flat-screen TVs and WiFi. You will need a car to get to the breaks, but that’s the story pretty much anywhere on this shore.

When to surf in La Torche

We’d say the seasons are the single biggest influence on the La Torche surf report. Big winter days can close out the entire bay, for example. Meanwhile, soft summer swells usually attract the total beginners.

surfers in La Torche

Spring – the best season for La Torche surf!

The La Torche surf report regularly reads clean waves of 5-9 foot during the spring season. In fact, an estimate 30-40% of days during this season are considered surfable, with groundswells originating SW the best of all. Look for those to get lovely wrap-around walls that power up right handers in the beachfront and peaky hollow waves inside Pors Carn beach.

Autumn – good all round surf conditions

Autumn months mean warmer water (the warmest of the year, in fact) and pretty decent surfing conditions. N-NW swells come down from the top of the Atlantic Gulf Stream with onshores, which mean some close out days but reliable height in the waves. We’d recommend getting up early to enjoy before the breezes pick up. Smaller crowds and a penchant for Breton’s Indian Summers also make this a great time to take to the water.

Summer – the most popular season

Summer sees huge crowds of domestic French tourists retreat to La Torche. Most don’t come for the surfing. They come for the turquoise-tinted waves and the sparkling beaches. Winds tend to be less strong. Rain is less common. It’s the perfect time to top up the tan, although swimming in the Atlantic isn’t recommended because of big rips. Beginner surfers will find lots to like, but may have to wait for totally flat days to pass.

Winter – When the La Torche weather goes bad

Brittany isn’t known for its mild winters. Yes, they do tend to be wilder than the UK. However, La Torche feels the brunt of any Atlantic storm systems so gets hefty rain dumps between November and April. That said, there are strong groundswell currents in action all over the French west coast. That means big days of overhead swells are normal. Sadly, the La Torche surf doesn’t hold up quite as well as its compadres down in Landes and the Basque Country, so close outs are a concern.

Surf shops in La Torche

La Torche doesn’t have the same overload of surf shops as, say, Biarritz. but, as the de facto capital of surfing in Brittany, it does have its fair share of outlets. We can recommend…

Twenty Nine

A leading name on the local La Torche surf, scene, Twenty Nine has an outlet on the main road leading to the carpark at the south end of the bay. You’ll see it as you drive in, offering rentals and whatnot. Also drop in for basic needs: Wax, leashes, etc.

Aumaka Surf School & Shop

Drive inland a bit to the nearby town of Plomuer and there’s Aumaka Surf. It’s another school-shop mashup. Stock ranges from flip flops to surf fashion, foam boards to wetties.

Best places to eat in La Torche

La Torche isn’t actually a town. It’s just a beach. Despite there being now official town centre as such, you’ll still find a few enticing eating options dotting the sands. Most are located towards the south end of the plage, near the surf spot of Pors Carn.

Chez Marie-Cath ($$)

Sat right by the sands of Pors Carn and the main parking point for the La Torche surf, Chez Marie-Cath is a chilled French bistro with lovely views of the sea. It’s casual vibe is carried on in the casual eats. The menu touts simple salads, some Breton fish dishes, and plenty of coffee and cocktails.

Crêperie Le Rayon Vert ($)

The Crêperie Le Rayon Vert is literally right next door to one of the region’s top surf rentals and surf schools. Drop in for a classic French pancake with sugar or savoury and you can grab your board afterwards. Nice outdoor seating. Other dishes on offer apart from crepes include salads and grilled fish.

Things to do when you’re not surfing in La Torche

La Torche is a great base for getting around Brittany and sampling the delights of this wild corner of north-west France. When the waves are flat, be sure to consider…

Parc naturel régional d’Armorique

Brasparts

Rugged bays, hidden coves, white-sand beaches – there’s all sorts hidden in this vast and rather unknown reserve. It’s just to the north of La Torche and firmly within daytrip territory. Expect a showcasing of the best natural backcountry that Brittany has to offer!

Quimper

Quimper

Pay a visit to Quimper to see the largest town in this southern corner of Finistère. It’s only 30 minutes or so by car, but sports a magnificent Gothic-style cathedral and an enthralling museum all about local Breton culture.


This guide is just one part of our ultimate guide to surfing in France

Anything to add to this guide to La Torche surf? We’d love to hear it in the comments below. This guide is continually being added to and updated to keep it on the cutting edge.

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