Au Revoir From France

A Fond Farewell to Land of Deep Pits, Smokey Bars and Bizarre Celebrations

It takes a true Aussie to describe surfing of this caliber. "He squeezed out like a bit of toothpaste." Josh Kerr said standing on the dune overlooking La Graviere during Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow's epic quarterfinals duel at the Quik Pro France. "You couldn't have put a quarter on his shoulder inside that tube with him. And he come out the front of it and stuck a sick air reverse."

The perfect commentary for a perfectly surfed wave. Parko got a 9.5, comboed Taj and in the process drove a stake through the determined Firewire poster boy's heart. You could feel the devastation as Taj exited the water from the bluff. You almost felt bad for him. That is until you see him out that night and he's looking like Vinnie Chase from {{{Entourage}}} surrounded by all his mates, the most beautiful girls in Dick's Sandbar and has a never ending supply of free mojitos flying his way. You quickly get the feeling that Taj will be just fine.

And that's the beauty of France. You always know you're going to be just fine. While you can wring the smoke out of all your t-shirts, your boards look like they took a round of flechettes to the deck from constant battery in the shacking shorebreak and your baguette and butter intake are at an all-time high; you still can't seem to wipe that silly wine-stained grin off your face. It's a surfers Eden, a city for not sleeping: sick waves, beautiful girls, all-night dance parties, and incredible crepes. If they find a way to import Mexican food it could become the new frontier for Californians.

As we exited the bar Friday night with the majority of the losers bracket already partaking in the melee that makes France such a special event to lose early in, a staff member from Dick's Sandbar got on the mic, " Make sure you all come back tomorrow night. I'm sensing we'll be getting an appearance from Eugene." A series of hoots and whistles go off as the squadron of chicks and dudes make their way to the late night dance club that persistently plays pulsating trance and techno, which by that point in the night almost sounds cool.

Mick's being carried up the beach. He's already mid-Eugene morph after a chug of Fosters oilcan, draped in the Australian flag victorious over Greg Emslie in the final. You definitely get the feeling the guy at Dick's was right. Eugene, Fanning's alter ego who's been locked up more often than not as Mick pursues his first world title, was definitely going to make it out that night. Jake Patterson was elated, "Finally, Eugene's coming out!" he shouted as Mick was carried all the way to Caf de Paris where half the Aussies were already sipping from 3-foot high beakers of beer. It was on if it hadn't been on the night before.

"Be careful down there, mate," Luke Stedman warned me before going into the underground nightclub later that night. "It's getting weird down there." As Steds headed home to wifey Malia Jones, gracefully bowing out of the bizarre Technicolor dancing going on downstairs, the rest of the Aussie crew careened into the night, celebrating the fact that they are now one step closer to having the world title back in Australia for the first time since 1999. There's definitely no better land to get the party started than here in France. And that they did, well into the morning hours. Stay tuned to see if Mick can wrap it up and blow the doors off the quiet little Basque town of Mundaka. We're ready Eugene.

Mick Fanning: the people’s champion