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France: Recommendations from Cruisers

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 18, 2011 11:37 AM

Published: 2011-11-18 11:37:51
Countries: France

The following comments are from sailors who have recently cruised in French Waters and contributed to a survey run in co-operation with Segeln magazine, about Mediterranean cruising recommendations.

CORSICA

Marina di Bonifacio – the best harbour in the Mediterranean!!! Great landscape: Old town and castle on a rock, marina in a deep fjord. Good places to eat in the harbour or in the old town, good supermarkets in walking distance of the marina. Marina fee is OK, too. I go to this marina every time I sail Sardinia/Corsica.

Sail between Sardinia and Corsica, east to west, and you will experience very very rough, but still safe, seas. Then go north west and enjoy the beautiful coastline of Corsica!

FRANCE

Villefranche
Old downtown. Great performances and concerts in citadelle. Anchoring on rade. Marina (not of high technical standard but highly charming!) west side of bay. Little beach club on east side of bay.
In Villefranche go to Mere Germain and have the prawns au curry.
Villefranche is an easy, protected anchorage with a picturesque quay and enough shops to stock up and enough bars to enjoy a pleasant meal or drink. The most peaceful anchorage we found around Nice/Antibes when all the marina's were full!

Iles de Lerins
Anchoring between Saint Honorat and Saint Marguerite. Anchoring north of Saint Marguerite at foot of Fort Royal (man with the iron mask!) High class beach club with restaurant.
Beautiful anchorages and restaurant La Tonnelle which is very recommendable. Visit the Monastery and the Castle (man with the iron mask).

St Tropez
You need a big boat (21.5 metres +) to be allowed to stay in the old port in St Tropez in summer months, and you need to book ahead - in January it'll be pretty sure of a place. Once in St Tropez, book Chez Les Garcons for dinner and pre-book the coddled eggs with foie gras as a starter. Then go to Place des Lices and eat lunch at the restaurant with outdoor fans and atomised water.
St Tropez, Cap Camarat - Quiet anchoring for relaxing in Bay de Canebiers (for children beach and sailing school). Anchoring west of rocks "La Croisette" (by SW and NE winds). Quiet white sandy beach. Extensive walks in the natural reserve.

Antibes
Is nice, and you can book ahead but ONLY if you speak French - the staff are all National Front in this heartland of Le Pen. Port Vauban is so big and badly run that you can just drive into any empty spot and stay all day.
Contact Port Vauban as soon as you plan your trip. Its always crowded, even more in summer BUT being at Port Vauban means that you are in the middle of Antibes. Nice cheap (for Antibes) place is the BLUE LADY at 5 min walk (and many more I could recommend like those at Cap d Antibes). From Port Vauban you have bus to Nice, Juan les Pins and Cannes (about 10-20 min) or you may go to Grasse - about 40 Min by car.

Cap Taillat
Anchoring on east or west side, quiet white sandy beach.

Port Cros
Moorings (15m max ) opposite village, best seafood restaurant. Beautiful walk over the hills.
Fantastic island, many anchorages and a very nice harbour with very cosy and nice bars & restaurant. Natural reserve. Guided diving tours on a submarine path. STOP space too short.

Porquerolles
Anchoring on "Plage d'argent". Restaurant and white sandy beach.

Two great Anchorages on the South Coast of France
First the Grande Calanque just a about 1km west from the Isle Cristau on the Cap Benat. Wonderful deep water inlets carved out of the cliffs. Only accessible by sea or a very long walk, so very secluded. Protected form all but SE Winds. Stay and experience the smell of pine, and total peace and privacy.

A more popular anchorage but full of beauty is only a few miles South of the Calanques on the North Coast of the Ile du Porqeurolles, best anchorage is in the bay of l'Alycastre, where a quiet time can be spent with wonderful views and good holding.

Port Saint Louis Du Rhone
A great place to go on the dry after summer holidays, keeping costs down, rather than staying in an expensive marina. My boat has been lifted out on site with a stradle carrierules. I pay a reasonable yearly fee, in fact not more expensive as if she stays here in Belgium! Navy Service is the name of the company you'll find on the net at www.navyservice.com. Sailors will be glad to find a place where big margins are not the only goal and where services on site are well equipped and experienced. Working yourself on the boat is allowed, within the range of the site rules of course. A nice place on the door of the amazing Camargue. With Ryanair, going there is cheap!

Canet en Roussillon
My base with km of beach to south and north, rocky coast from Argeles to Cape Bear and historic anchorage of Collioure, and further south Banyuls and commercial port of Port Vendres. Landscape of vines and mountains of the Pyrenean range to 2700 metres. Diving paradise off Banyuls. excellent infrastructure of yachting services at Canet with made to measure biminis and dodgers at James. Sailing conditions in summer of light SE winds and stronger NW Tramontane, otherwise but allowing exciiting sailing close inshore. Excellent food products and wine at favourable prices. Cheap flights to northern cities from Perpignan. Open house to those who wish to test the area or those wishing to acquire a sailing boat, Canet has a Jeanneau concession here. Bandol - great eating out, huge marina, close to everything, but you can play bowls close to your boat.

General Comments

From Marseille westwards to Canet en Rousillion, quite easy sometimes, and quite rough other times. About 50M east of Marseille, there are some nice anchorages, people are wakeboarding and lots of activities.

Go to the Cote D'azur 09-15 July. Stay west of St Tropez if you are too poor to pay the fantastic harbour fees charged between St Tropez and Beaulieu. Les Calanques are nice for a day. Marseilles old port is a must for Bastille Day - the fireworks are so good that they actually turn night into day.

When wishing to find a berth for a night or two in the Cote D'azur where berths are very scarce we found it was better to actually enter the port/harbour and then ask the Capitaniere for a place, informing them politely that you are already there. If you call or phone in advance they will tell you no place is available.

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