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By No owner — last modified Jun 16, 2017 05:38 PM

 France - Profile

Facts

  • With both an Atlantic and a Mediterranean coastline, France has more variety to offer the cruising sailor than any other European country, from the tidal creeks and shallow estuaries of Brittany to the chic ports of the Côte d'Azur and the stark beauty of the island of Corsica.
  • France is one of the leading sailing nations in the world and its top sailors are as well known to the general French public as its best soccer players. With the most developed yacht building industry in Europe, yachting facilities generally are of a high standard. Marinas have been built along the entire Mediterranean coast and in many places, particularly in the older ports, special docking arrangements have been made for yachts. Many ports and marinas are full to capacity and during the summer season it can be difficult to find space.
  • Chandlery and repair facilities are widely available and small repairs can be undertaken in most ports. For more complicated or specialised jobs it is best to go to one of the major centres, where there are established boatyards and specialist companies offering a complete range of repair facilities.
  • For the visiting sailor, each side of France has its special attractions. The Atlantic coast calls for more attentive navigation, but brings its rewards in the many natural harbours and inlets. Although spectacular, this coast can be dangerous as there are many offlying hazards, strong tidal streams and frequent gales. This is more than made up for by such attractive ports as Morlaix, St Malo or Lézardrieux. The western coast divides into three distinct areas, the most popular and picturesque being the Brittany coast, which has many navigable rivers and the Morbihan inland sea. The central area to the Gironde has several offlying islands as well as the great rivers, the Loire and the Gironde, which lead into the inland waterways. The low-lying area stretching to the Spanish border is the least appealing as a cruising destination.
  • On the northern coast, facilities are best at St Malo, Ouistreham (near Caen) Le Havre, and Cherbourg, while on the Atlantic coast Brest, La Trinité, La Rochelle, Lorient and Bordeaux offer the best range.
  • In some ways, Mediterranean France is more suited to those who prefer to find their pleasures ashore. Sailing into such glittering places as St Tropez, Cannes or Antibes is an experience that cannot be repeated and it is worth the long detour just to spend some time among the most beautiful collection of yachts in the world. Excellent facilities are at Antibes, in the St Tropez-Cogolin area, Toulon and Marseilles, although the latter deals mainly with commercial shipping. Many harbours east of Toulon charge from noon to noon, not on the basis of a 24 hour period from arrival. Also, charter boats abound in this area but crew experience is very variable, ranging from reasonable to very inexperienced, usually handling extra large boats!
  • For a good taste of Mediterranean France, the island of Corsica offers a wide selection of ports ideally to be visited outside of the peak summer season as it is a favourite holiday destination for French sailors. Facilities are best at the main port of Ajaccio on the west coast and Bastia on the east coast.
  • France prides itself on having the best cuisine in the world and the quality of food is excellent everywhere. Supplies are easily available and on the outskirts of every town there are huge hypermarkets, which have an immense selection of foodstuffs and other goods.
  • Water and fuel are available in all ports and most marinas have their own fuelling dock. LPG is widely available as it is used by many French households, but for longer stays in France it may be advisable to change over to the French system of bottles.

Security

Police in the Cote d'Azure report that thieving is rife in the area generally and cruisers report that in Antibes, Marina Vauban, there has been a good deal of thieving from boats.

South of France, Cote d'Azure, Rade d'Agay: Night boarding & theft - June 2014

Weather

The climate differs significantly between the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts and so do sailing conditions. On the Atlantic side, the climate is temperate and the sailing season lasts from late spring to the autumn. The prevailing winds of summer are northerly, becoming SW when a system of low pressure comes in from the Atlantic. The strongest winds also come from the SW. Winds along the Mediterranean coast and Corsica are more variable, the strongest wind being the mistral, a northerly wind which occurs regularly and often reaches gale force.

In the Mediterranean, there are several continuous weather reports, broadcast in both English and French, on VHF channels. Channel 24 for Corsica; Channel 25 for Provence; Channel 23 for the Core d'Azur.

French Coastal Weather Forecasts - these are better than the BBC sea area forecasts and are issued by CROSS (Centre Regioneaux Operationnels de Surveillance et de Sauvetage)ie regional watch and rescue centres. After an initial announcement on VHF16 you are directed to either VHF79 or 80. The forecast follow a standard format: eg for a morning forecast: (i)Synopsis and evolution (ii)Forecast for the day (iii)Forecaste for the night (iv)Outlook for the next 24 hours (tendence ulteriere) A miniumum of French language is required, apart from (i). Wind strengths are given in Beaufort. Beware of est (east) and ouest (west)

Weather Conditions in France.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Atlantic: Aber-wrac'h , Arcachon * , Audierne , Bayonne * , Benodet , Brest * , Camaret-sur-mer , Capbreton , Concarneau * , Douarnenez * , Gironde Estuary & Bordeaux * , Hendaye-Behobie * , La Baule(Pornichet) , La Rochelle * , La Trinite-sur-Mer * , Les Sables d'Olonne * , Loctudy , Lorient * , Nantes * , Pauillac-Trompeloup * , Piriac-sur-mer , Port Crouesty , Port Joinville (L’Ile d’Yeu) , Port-La-Foret , Quibiberon Bay , Quimper * , Rochefort * , Royan & Port Medoc * , Saint-Jean-de-Luz , St Denis d’Oleron , St Nazaire * , Vannes * , Vilaine River and Roche Bernard

Channel/North Sea: Binic , Boulogne * , Caen-Ouistreham * , Calais * , Cherbourg * , Dielette * , Dieppe * , Dives-sur-Mer - Port Guillaume , Dunkirk * , Fecamp * , Granville * , Gravelines * , Honfleur * , Le Havre * , Le Touquet-Etaples * , Le Treport * , Lezardrieux , Morlaix * , Paimpol * , Perros Guirec , Roscoff * , Saint-Valery-sur-Somme , St Cast , St Malo * , St Quay-Portrieux , Trebeurden , Tréguier

Corsica: Ajaccio * , Bastia * , Bonifacio * , Calvi * , CampoloroTaverna * , Ile Rousse * , Porto-Vecchio * , Propriano *

Mediterranean: Antibes * , Bandol * , Canet-en-Roussillon , Cannes * , Carnon-Plage , Cassis * , Frejus-Saint Raphael * , Frontignan , Golfe Juan , Gruissan , Hyeres * , La Ciotat * , Le Lavandou * , Marseille * , Menton-Garavan * , Nice * , Port Camargue , Port Grimaud , Port St Louis du Rhone * , Port de Bouc * , Port la Nouvelle * , Port-Leucate , Port-Vendres * , Sanary * , Sete * , St Tropez * , Toulon-la Seyne * , Villefranche-sur-Mer

River ports: Caudebec-en-Caux * , Metz * , Rouen, Seine *

* indicates port of entry

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 16, 2017 05:38 PM

Posted elsewhere on the site by Jim Norris:

We are in Malta on the way from Greece to the French canals.
We went to the French embassy here to see about long term visas for France. Here is the official email answer.

Concerning your question about Schengen Visas:
- Further to the French-Canadian Agreements on 06-17 April 1950, all Canadian nationals are allowed to stay in France during 3 months without any Visa, independently of previous stays already done in other countries of Schengen area.
Martine RIGAUD-BUSUTTIL
Service Consulaire/ VISAS
AMBASSADE de FRANCE
130 Melita Street
VALLETTA VLT 1123
TEL (00356) 2248 0600

So it appears us Canuks at least can get 180 days (actually more as it says 3 months).

Bicoco
Bicoco says:
Jun 15, 2017 04:16 PM

As newcomer to Noonsite I would like to add up to ports & good sailing ground the area around Port Vendres, where the Pyrenees mountains drop into the Mediterranean; Sun, Wind,& wild scenery as well as Good way of life (food, hiking, anchorages ...). In addition one port? Canet en Roussillon (1300 berths, quays for repairs) with outstanding facilities for drydocking & repairs, with lifts from 30 to 200 Tons capacity (monohulls as well as catamarans) & loads of workshops & suppliers for all work related to sailing. The proximity of the city of Perpignan with even more industrial capacity helps keep prices low (not cut-throat as often encountered with Shipchandlers). I warmly recommend the services & will happily help out if wishing for more information.
SV Désirade VIII - soon (9/11/2017) to cast off to South Atlantic.

Mallemok
Mallemok says:
May 29, 2017 12:25 PM

For anyone who plans to travel through the inland waterways from or to the Mediterranean, you can download the e-pilot we wrote about our route from Amsterdam to the Med in 2015, updated with info from fellow cruisers we launched version 2.0 last month. Go to www.e-pilots.net for the latest edition.

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Oct 22, 2016 11:35 AM

Posted on behalf of Mark & Lisa Powell

A warning to non-EU cruisers in the Med.

We would like to pass on our experience yesterday with French customs. As the website correctly states, non-EU registered boats may remain in EU waters for 18 months before payment of VAT is required. We entered the EU last July, after crossing the Atlantic in May and then spending some time in Portugal and “resetting the clock” in Gibraltar in July. Therefore, the boat could stay in the EU until Jan 2017 without paying VAT. However, before returning the US for the winter, we obtained a “Precinto” (6-month customs bond) in Spain. This basically put the boat in bond while we went back to the U.S. for 6 months. Our understanding was that this Precinto would stop the Temporary Importation (TI) clock for 6 months, effectively extending our time to 24 months in EU waters before VAT payment is required.

Yesterday, while motoring along the south coast of France (near Bandol/Toulon), we were approached and boarded by French customs. Because out boat has only been in EU waters for since last July (13.5 months), they were very cordial and we had no problems. We also showed them our Precinto from Spain. They were completely unfamiliar with this document. I also showed them the paragraph in the IMRAY cruising guide describing the customs bond and 6-month extension. In no uncertain terms, they told us that France does not provided such an extensions and that they would not recognize or honor this Precinto from Spain. They kindly suggested that we sail to Tunisia for a day to “reset the clock” before our 18-month deadline in Jan 2017.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 25, 2014 01:26 PM

Posted on behalf of Alison Spinney, SY ChaliVentures III (USA)
Ports we visited in 2013, EAST COAST: From South to North
Note: We have a 12m boat.

Port Rondinara - JUNE
Stayed here for 6 nights waiting for a Mistral to pass. Good protection, but not from the East! Very crowded with charter boats and flotillas from Sardinia.

Solinzara - JUNE
38€/night. Laundromat and Carrefour just up the street. Lots of restaurants. WIFI!

Port de Taverna/Campoloro - JUNE
37€/night. Just an overnight. There was a small convenience store, But they had WIFI!

Bastia-Port Toga - JUNE
35€/night. We had wanted to go into the vieux port of Bastia, but they were doing some construction and it was very tight maneuvering. Also on the end of the outer breakwater, there were hordes of teenagers, and it just didn’t seem very secure. So we bailed and went into Port Toga instead. They had WIFI. Directly across the street was a FABULOUS Géant Casino. 2 blocks away was a self-serve Laundromat. The girls in the office directed me to a dry cleaner service that cost a fortune which was just across the street from the marina next to the Geant Casino. We LIKED Bastia. It’s pretty small, so things were pretty close.

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