Surfing has long been a popular sport in France, with the South coast of the country offering some of the best conditions for chasing big waves on the European continent. Towns like Cap Feret and Hossegor on the Southwest coast are particularly famous and have been surfing destinations since the sport first boomed in popularity in the 1980s.
One of a few professional surfers born on the French overseas territory of Reunion Island, just off the coast of Madagascar near East Africa, Jeremy Flores is a surfing legend already – and he’s only 31.
Flores was the winner of the 2010 and 2017 Billabong Masters, as well as being a member of the prestigious ‘perfect heat’ club whose members have obtained a 20 out of 20 score from the judges in any major international competition. Jeremy also campaigns tirelessly to improve surfing conditions on his native island, where shark attacks and pollution have threatened the popularity of many beaches as surfing destinations.
Born in the seaside town of Hendaye, Pauline Ado was the first European woman ever to qualify for two World Championship spots in a row, as well as being the winner of the 2008 World Junior title at the tender age of 17. Relatively media-shy, accompanied with a strong work ethic, she won bronze at the World Championships in 2013 and has twice cracked the World’s top 10 surfers list – finishing 9th in both 2011 and 13. Throughout her career she has championed the cause of women’s surfing to be taken seriously as a sporting endeavour and not just ass an opportunity for magazine photoshoots and advertising.
Maud Le Car
Born on the French-Caribbean island of St Martin, Maud Le Car is also a professional model and keen amateur artist when she’s not riding waves with impeccable style. Her surfing career peaked in 2017, when she came 9th in the Vans US Open – coached by her boyfriend, fellow French national and professional surf hopeful Joan Duru. Her inspirational life dedicated to various waterborne and artistic pursuits helped her become the cover star of SurfGirl magazine in 2018.
A close runner-up at the Longboard World Championships at the age of just 15, Justine Dupont has been labelled as the first lady of big wave surfing in France. In 2013 she became the first ever woman surfer to conquer the legendary 15-metre wave that sometimes breaks at Belharra near the French border with Spain – but not content with doing it once, Justine went back and did it again the following year.
She has won big wave competitions all over the globe, including in 2016 and ’19 where she again came second twice at the World Championships and then two trophies at the XXL Big Waves Awards that same year. In 2019, Justine’s hard work paid off as she was elected Chair of the International Surfing Associations’ Olympic Committee for the 2020 games in Tokyo.