Do you want to avoid the hassle of driving or the burden of waiting to check-in at the airport? Then how about a sailing trip to France? By boat, you will have a great opportunity to explore the picturesque landscape of one of Europe’s most astonishing and popular attractions.
Whether you are an expert sailor, a beginner or you just want to enjoy a several-week vacation by sailing the Mediterranean, you’ll have plenty things to see and to do along the French coast. If the idea of sailing holidays to France lures you, do read on. We’re going to tell you more about some locations you don’t want to miss and the French marinas where you can safely doc.
To begin, we just want to point out that sailing along the French coast is truly a unique and fascinating experience because it enables you to enjoy a wide variety of sites. From the dramatic landscape of Normandy to the fine sandy beaches on the Mediterranean shoreline, the French coast is a delight to the eyes of tourists and locals. It’s only fair to say that the shoreline is as intriguing and diverse as the rest of the country.
So, let’s embark on our sailing in France lesson and head to our first destination – the French Riviera.
To sail to the French Riviera is synonymous with visiting Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. This is one of the most emblematic destinations on the Mediterranean shore; it is the region extending between the Italian border (to the east), the principality of Monaco (to the north) and the Mediterranean Sea (to the south). If you wonder what to do on the French Riviera, you’ll be surprised to find out that there’s more than sunbathing and swimming at stake.
Côte d’Azur boasts some of the most popular cities in France; Cannes, Saint – Tropez, Marseille and Nice just to name a few. This also answers the question where to stay on the French Riviera. Cannes is the city that hosts each year the well-known Festival de Cannes. This is the place where opulence meets history. In Cannes, you can stroll down the Promenade de la Croisette, take a look at the luxurious products in the local boutiques, have a savory beverage in one of the waterfront cafes or get a sip of history by visiting the fortified tower.
Nice is by no means inferior with its Promenade des Anglais. This famous pedestrian area defines opulence and grace. Here, you can indulge in the beauty of the promenade’s landmarks; Palais de la Méditerranée theater and Villa Masséna or stroll down the alleys of Jardin Albert I, a fascinating garden located near the promenade.
Saint Tropez is another interest point you shouldn’t skip. This small and charming town is the perfect destination for a lazy afternoon. With its cozy cafes, romantic landscape, cobblestone streets, top restaurants and relaxing vibe, this city will welcome you and make you feel like you belong here.
Marseille is the capital city of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and a vibrant location you’ll never forget. This is the second largest city in France and it features a fascinating mix of ancient history, rich culture and splendid seaside views. Some of the city’s landmarks are the old harbor, Vieux Port, Basilique Saint-Victor, the Old town called Le Panie which dates back to the ancient Greek settlement (600 BC), the contemporary art museum VieilleCharité, the MuCEM museum.
Sailing to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is a smooth and pleasant experience, the weather is warm and sailor-friendly all year round and the best months to come here are June and September. No restrictions for August and July, but keep in mind that this is the peak season. The best ports we recommend for your journey are Port de St Tropez, Port de Nice, Vieux Port de Cannes.
Corsica is an island that bathes in the Mediterranean Sea, located in the southeast of France and neighboring Italy to the west. This place is quite unique from a cultural diversity standpoint.While the island officially belongs to France, it’s history, art, traditions and population portray a variety of features that can be related to different civilizations. Many antique populations fought for this territory: the Carthaginians, the Etruscans, the Syracusans, the Greeks, the Byzantines, the Ostrogoths, the Romans. Today’s Corsican architecture and historical vestiges are a testimony of the different influences that created Corsican identity. Genoese towers such as Tour de la Parata or Tour de Porto, historical forts like the one in Bonifacio and bastions, citadels like Calvi are the reminiscence of the past that is engraved in every part of this island.
Every village and town in Corsica has its share of history and the cities are not less fascinating. Nature has been more than generous with this island’s territory which will delight your eyes and soothe your soul. Some of the attractions you shouldn’t miss if you’re sailing to Corsica are the red wonders called the Clanche Cliffs, the Natural Reservation of Scandola, the Villages of la Balagne. Some of Corsica’s nearly 200 beaches that will impress you are the bays of Calvi and L’Ile Rousse, San Ciprianu, Palombaggia, Roccapina Beach, Plage du Petit Sperone in Bonifacio, La Plaged’Argent in Coti-Chiavari.
The island’s capital, Ajaccio is another important attraction and much of its fame is due to the fact that Napoleon was born here. This city also features a rich history, beautiful architecture, mysterious narrow streets, the view of green hills, a welcoming port and the breathtaking scenery of the Gulf of Sagone.
We haven’t left the southern part of France yet so, our next destination is Languedoc – Roussillon, another major attraction on the Mediterranean coast. If your perfect holiday recipe combines the beauty of nature with an immersion in local history, you’ll love it here. Some of the most renowned cities in this region are Perpignan, Argeles-sur-Mer, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Nimes. Languedoc – Roussillon’s cultural patrimony is also a result of different civilizations.
Before the French came here, these lands had been inhabited by Greeks and Phoenician who settled here around 600 BC. Some of this region’s most important historical points of interest can be found at Carcassonne where you can see one of the biggest fortified settlement in Europe. Le Canal du Midi built in the 17th century is another must-see. This is the oldest commercial canal in the world and it is also included in UNESCO’s World Heritage. The ancient Roman remains and the Arena at Nimes, as well as the Castle of the Dukes at Uzès, should also be on your list.
As for the natural attractions of this region, the Pyrenees mountains, the landscape at the northern Languedoc, the National Parc des Cevennes located in Gard, the seawater lake – Etang de Thau in Herault are just some examples. The beaches in Languedoc – Roussillon won’t let you down; the most reputable are located at Côte Vermeille Some, Argeles-sur-Mer, Collioure, Côted’Amethyste, Leucate, Le Grau-du-Roi. Some marinas where you can book a berth are Port Ariane in Palavas, Marina Cerbere in Banyuls de la Marenda, Marina Banyuls sur Mer, Port de Saint Cyprien.
Nord-Pas- de-Calais. Picardy. Upper Normandy
Not only the southern coast of France is a good location for a sailing vacation. There are plenty marvelous destinations you would also enjoy on the northern side.
Nord-Pas- de-Calais is located in the north of France in the region Hauts-de-France. Just like the southern shore, this area was also gifted with plenty natural and historical attractions. The most obvious cultural influences that can be encountered in this region are those of Belgium and the Netherlands which comes as no surprise due to the proximity with these countries. Nord-Pas- de-Calais is one of the most populous regions in France, its biggest cities are the capital Lille and Calais and it has a transport hub with the English neighbor city, Dover, located just 42 kilometers away, by sea of course. Although this is essentially an industrial region, it maintains much of its pastoral charm, having vast forests and small welcoming villages.
Some of the most important cities in Nord-Pas- de-Calais are Lille, Calais, Aras, Chantilly, Douai, Bergues.Boulogne-sur-Mer. The whole region has a vast potential and is filled with museums, cathedrals, monuments, and entertainment opportunities. The capital city, Lille, is one of the top attractions with its Flemmish influences, Neo-Gothic Cathedral, Grand Palace, Notre Dame de la Treiller, Modern Art Museum, Palais des Beaux-Arts and fascinating local quisine that mixes French and Belgium specialties.
Dunkerque, France’s northernmost town, is another major point of interest located by the sea. Here, you can visitthe Memorial du Souvenirm or Musée des Beaux-Arts, the zoo park, or take part in the annual festival – Dunkirk Carnival.
Calais is one of the most important seaside ports on the northern shore of France. It is home to the Channel Tunnel which allows you to travel to England in just 20 minutes.A UNESCO World Heritage Site is also located here – Flemish Renaissance-style Hôtel de Ville and in the city center, you can admire Rodin’s sculptures.
Besides all these, Nord-Pas-de-Calais‘ coast scenery will seduce you at first sight.
Picardy is also situated in the northern part of the country and it is equally fascinating and appealing for tourists as the previous locations we mentioned. Those who come here should get ready to taste some of the best wines in the country, admire the beautiful natural scenery and immortalize beautiful architecture. Some of the most prominent cities in the region are Amiens, St-Quentin, Compiegne, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Beauvais.
The city of Amiens is the most prominent tourist destination in this region. Some of the places you should check out if you get here are the Notre-Dame d’AmiensCathedrale, the Picardy Museum, Maison de la Culture, Maison de Jules Verne, Zoo d’Amiens, MuséeLombart, les Hortillonnages, the Floral Garden of the Digeon Castle. If you seek an immersion in nature, the beautiful Park of Grand Marais or Samara Park are the best options.
Beauvais is a dream destination for tourists who love natural reserves. St. Quentin is famous for its rich history and the Battlefield Tours are something you shouldn’t miss.
This region has its counterpart which is called the Lower Normandy and they have been considered distinct territories since the end of the 20th century. The Upper Normandy, also located in the northern region of France is a charming region where you can admire natural landscapes, sail, taste delicious dishes and learn more about the local history. Upper Normandy has two major touristic attractions which are also its major urban settlements: Havre and Rouen.
The latter features an amazing array of attractions especially for those who love museums: the Notre Dame de Rouen Cathedral, the Museum Secq des Tournelles, the Flaubert Museum, the Museum of Antiquities are just some of them. If you are looking for a place to dock, you should try one of these ports: Port du Treport, Port du Saint Valery en Caux, Port de Plaisance de Fecamp, Le Havre Plaisance.