The distinctive and character filled region of Brittany in North West France is often by-passed by surfers heading south in search of warm waters and mechanical sand bottomed kegs.
However for the few who make the detour, and the dedicated local contingent, there’s magic to be found up there in Finistere.
Comprised of three distinctive coastlines, facing North, South and West, Brittany boasts a rich variety of set ups and a wild rugged coastal landscape markedly absent in Southern France. There’s fickle reefs, epic point breaks and miles and miles of open beach breaks, with strong currents and vast tidal ranges.
We recently caught up with a photographer who calls this unique European surfing region home and asked him to show us some of his images from around Bretange and tell us a little more about himself. Here’s what he came back with:
“Originally from Finistere in Brittany, my name is Valentin Figuier and I’m 25. My photography came via drawing, painting and graffiti.
After spending two years in North East Brazil at Canoa Quebrada, my passions gave way little by little to photography – another way of communicating my creativity. My ancient inspirations for painting and drawing combined well with this new passion.
Then I decided to take the surname Figueras because of my Brazilian friends.
Since this new departure for photography, I decided to get involved in the job professionally and since 2016 I’ve returned to my home in Britanny with a new eye and new ideas which I’m trying to put into practice. Closer to the ocean, I have been constructing my style for ten years by travelling to different places.
My inspiration initially came from Morgan Maassen, who himself travelled to the north east of Brazil.
I also surf, but very badly, I am goofy and I love surfing solely on my frontside on long lefts which open out, out, out.
But for me surfing is essential because it allows me to work on my rapport with the ocean. I observe many contrasts, the variations of the light etc … This plays with my photographic view and gives me energy in my inspirations.
For the last year I’ve started to follow certain local surfers, with whom I have learnt a lot – particularly the marine weather, which truly inspires me, because it interacts directly with photography; an offshore wind will give a different light, generally a day of good weather with a smooth, deep-blue sea and photogenic waves and a west onshore wind will give the waves structure and a very contrasting light!
I love Brittany very much and the Penmarc’h area, with a wink to Thomas Joncour and his fabulous surf school 29HOOD.
In Brittany, I have never had a bad photographic experience, because I’ve only been there a year, perhaps I’ll have something different to say after the winter.
However in the south-west at La Graviere, in Hossegor, I was with a Breton, Aurelien Buffet (a very promising youngster) and I headed out for a water shoot. As I was a bit of a novice, I waited on the sand for the set to pass so that I could get into the impact zone calmly, but I spent five minutes getting through the white water and when I got into the impact zone, a big set absolutely exploded on me, I got 5 waves on the head in 1 metre of water, I had no more breath and my heart was beating super hard, luckily the last waves threw me out of the water because I wouldn’t have survived a sixth.”