“Don’t you all know how to surf, living in Australia?” they ask me.

Once they’ve recovered from their amusement, we’re kitted out in our full-length wetsuits and, with foam boards towering above us, head down to the beach.

The tanned sandy-blond instructor Gerard runs us through the basics of getting on to our boards and how to stand up.

Dropping our boards on the beach we lie flat on top, pretending to paddle and making sure our hips and shoulders are aligned.

Then we learn how to jump up on to our board, crouching low, and how to position our bodies to stay upright.

Our group seems to have got the hang of how to do it on dry land, so we hit the water with our cumbersome boards in tow.

After taking a few spills attempting to paddle onto waves, I catch a small wave and am wobbling to my knees when I fall face first into the water and get that mouthful of sea water.

Perseverance pays off, however, and after a few hours in the water we’ve got the hang of this standing on the board business.

Feeling quite exhausted but rejuvenated from being in the ocean, we stop for a well deserved rest and a plentiful lunch of salads, cheese, baguettes and fresh fruit.

Away from the crashing waves, there are plenty of other outdoor activities on offer to keep you busy in the countryside surrounding Lacanau.

Bike tracks through the region’s pine forests link the nearby lake to the beaches, or you can tee off at the Baganais Golf Club, which is a five-minute drive from the beach.

It’s been one hell of a ride, but I reckon with a few more trips to the coast I may just about master looking good on a board like Cameron Diaz. Well, here’s hoping!

Visit French wineries

The world-renowned Médoc wine region is half an hour from Lacanau. It’s well-known for red wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. There are dozens of wineries hidden among the rolling hills, and many are open to visitors during the week.

Château Baudan  (+33 (0)556 580740) is a family-run vineyard in the Listrac area, which produces a red blend each year. Visitors can tour the winery operations, including a look at the storage building, called a chais, which has thick limestone walls and a single north-facing door to keep the barrels away from sunlight.  Picking up a bottle will cost €14.50-€38.50.

» Erin Miller travelled with Action Outdoors (0845 890 0362).