From France: Before the Storm

It's fall, so it must be Hossegor. Actually, feels more like summer — Indian Summer that is.

To fully appreciate this place it helps to arrive here from the east. Start in the foothills of the Pyrenees near Pau, wind down past the rivers and the wheat fields, drive slowly through the tiny Basque towns, see the offshore wind blowing through coastal pine forests as you move north into Les Landes, park the car in the lot at Les Bourdaines, walk up the path through the dunes and take it all in.

Mick Fanning prepared to defend his crown in France

Mick Fanning, prepared to defend

This what you see: It's 85 degrees on the beach, guys are wearing trunks in the water, girls are wearing less. Sand banks bend and twist into little points and bays — a right here, a left there, another peak there and twenty more after that. This is Europe? This is October? We're as far north as Newfoundland and British Columbia here.

But it's flat. Almost unsurfably flat. Which is a bummer for nearly everyone who's arrived in the past couple days because before that the locals here had a three-week run of epic weather and surf that was, apparently, magnifique.

Check out the videos (top and below) to see how good it's been — many of these clips were shot just last week:

It won't be flat for long. Never is here this time of year. Wednesday should see a start to the contest in a new swell and clean surf. Thursday and Friday are bigger, colder and stormier, but Saturday and Sunday should be solid and offshore and more swell is on the way next week.

PS — Dane and Jordy are both here and are surfing. —Jamie Tierney