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April 4, 2022

The Best Places to Sail in France

Take a look at some of the best places to sail in France as we drop anchor with this France sailing guide.

Best places to sail in France - French marina with boats waiting

The Best Places to Sail in France

When it comes to looking for the best places to sail in France, you are spoiled for choice! Whether you take to the Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean coast or the vast canal network inland, you will find experiences rich with beauty and culture. And, of course, plenty of fresh cheese and wine. 

 Here’s what you need to know about sailing in France.

Best places to sail in France - French Riviera landscape view across the cliffs

The French Riviera

Swish, stylish and suited for sailing, the French Riviera is the classic place to see and be seen, from the privacy of your own yacht, of course. The area runs along the Côte d’Azur, taking in hot spots like Cannes, St Tropez and Nice. Famed for its Hollywood connections and a sense of glitz and glamour, you’ll also find down to earth farmers markets and hiking routes on shore - and azure waters at sea. 

France - Burgundy - vineyards you can visit as part of a sailing trip

Burgundy

If you enjoy wine and the slower pace of canals, then a boating holiday in Burgundy is for you. Leave from Sancerre (home of the sweet dessert wine) and move on to the aqueducts of Digoin and Briare. Take your time in the home of chardonnay and pinot noir and enjoy the slow sensation of slow travel in France.  

France - Normandy - Mont St Michel - a great place to visit on a boat in France

Normandy

The white cliffs of Normandy paint a striking backdrop for your sailing holiday in France. The Gothic Mont St Michel rises out of the water like a dream and the D-Day beaches give an important pause for thought.

France - Toulouse - Place du Toulouse at night

Toulouse and around

The mighty Canal du Midi runs from the pink city of Toulouse to the Mediterranean coast, taking in medieval fortified cities like Carcassonne and field after field of sunflowers. It’s another wine region (zut alors!) so another chance to relax and enjoy the traditional, authentic local produce.

France - Canal de Garonne - green canal with trees

Nouvell Aquitaine

The Canal de Garonne lazes its way through Nouvelle Aquitaine to Bordeaux, taking in atmospheric villages, abbeys, the castles of Gascony and more. And yes, the wonderful deep earth red wines of Bordeaux and St Emilion, some of the best places for wine tasting in the world.

Perfect France sailing guide

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Your France Sailing Guide

Now that we’ve tempted you with the best places to sail in France, how do you make the trip happen? Allow us to help you out with this mini France sailing guide.

Boat Rental in France

When you are looking to hire a boat in France, you will find a variety of options through SamBoat, an online platform for listing and hiring boats all over the world. With or without a skipper, you can book what you need in just a few clicks.

 Rates start at 50€ per day, so whether you’re just looking for a day trip or an entire sailing holiday in France, you can find it on SamBoat: the rental fleet is now 45 000 boats strong in 76 countries across the world. Not bad for a company founded in 2014 by Laurent Calando and Nicolas Cargou as a community-based platform.

 Some quick facts about SamBoat:

 Over 300,000 people sailed with SamBoat in 2021 alone.

  • You’ll find SamBoat vessels in 76 countries around the world
  • The SamBoat rental fleet includes 45,000 boats
  • The SamBoat website is fluent in 6 languages
  • You’ll find more than 90,000 authentic reviews on the site

Best mooring locations in France

You’ll find the most glamorous marinas in the south of France, where many have quick access to cobbled streets, quirky cafes and boutique shops and restaurants. The Vieux Port de Cannes frequently tops the lists as the best marina in France, but St Tropez, Port Grimaud and Port Calvi in Corsica are never far behind.

What to eat and drink in France

France loves to eat and you’ll find high quality cafes, restaurants and bistros wherever you go. Villages have an emergency boulangerie rota so that people will always be able to purchase fresh baguettes and a love and appreciation for wine is widely admired. 

Where to get groceries in France

Almost every small village will have a bakery (boulangerie) and small supermarket. Most towns have larger supermarkets, like Carrefour, which will supply all the groceries you need. Look out for fresh farmers markets across the country; they’re a great place to pick up soft cheese, ripe fruit and healthy vegetables to supplement your pantry staples.

Key sailing events in France

 Every year, the Golden Globe Race in France challenges sailors to circumnavigate the world in old-style boats. The glitzier Royal Regatta in Cannes celebrates 40 years of sailing in France, while Le Voiles de St Tropez rivals this event, attracting some of the most beautiful boats in France (if not the world.)

Climate and weather in France

The high season for sailing in France runs from May to September when the days are long and the skies warm. The south of France runs considerably warmer than the north and while you can rely on getting your swimsuit out in the summer along the French Riviera, for anywhere north of Paris, you are taking a gamble. 

 Sailing in the shoulder season can be rewarding with fewer crowds and lower costs but the weather will be cooler accordingly.

How to get to France

  • France is extremely well connected to airport hubs around the world. You will find the most connections into Paris, where there are three airports (Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG, Paris Orly ORY and Paris Beauvais BVA.) From Paris, you can catch the TGV to the south coast to Marseilles.
  •  Alternatively, there are many international flights to regional airports. Nice (NCE) is a big airport in the southeast of France. Toulouse takes in flights to the southwest, but you can also find airports in Bordeaux, Limoges, Biarritz and Marseilles. 
  •  Another way to access France from the UK is to take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. 
  • Ferries are yet another option from the UK, with several lines crossing to Calais, Cherbourg, St Malo and Le Havre.

How to get around France

France has an extremely well developed rail network which connects the major cities across l’hexagone. However, outside these routes public transport is generally slow and awkward and it helps to have your own set of wheels.

Of course, if you plan to spend most of your time actually sailing in France, then just a taxi to the marina will do. 


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