France

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WorldMediterraneanNorth AtlanticFrance
France
France-CIA WFB Map.png
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Map
Flag of France.svg
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Flag
Capital Paris
Language French
Currency Euro (€)
Time zone CET (UTC+1) , DST: CEST (UTC+2)
Calling code +33

France offers some of the most varied and challenging cruising to be found in Western Europe.

Its Channel and Atlantic coasts together with the Mediterranean coast and offshore islands boast such a variety of sailing experiences that it is hardly surprising that France produces some of the world's most renowned yachtsmen as well as hosting several of the world's biggest manufacturers of yachts.

Perhaps it's a natural consequence then that France endears itself as one of the most receptive countries for leisure yachtsmen, with marina developments in most of its coastal areas, usually with dedicated spaces allocated for visitors. Coupled with the country's legendary reputation for gastronomy, it is thus a magnet for yachtsmen from all over northern Europe and its harbours and marinas can be full to bursting point during high season, which is most areas coincides with the main French holiday season, from mid-July up to the end of August.

Cruising in France can be roughly divided into six areas, each with its own character, cuisine and navigational challenges. Starting at the Belgian border, the coast from Dunkerque to Cherbourg becomes increasingly low-lying and takes in the famous Normandy beaches of Operation Overlord fame. The main harbours of Calais, Boulogne, Dieppe, Le Havre, Fecamp and Cherbourg are accessible at any state of tide, but most of the smaller harbours require careful planning to lock in and out around high water. Moving west, between Cherbourg and Brest is some of the most challenging cruising in France, with tidal ranges of up to 13 meters and correspondingly swift tidal currents. For the careful yachtsman, however, the tidal ports of Granville, St Malo, Paimpol, Roscoff and the Brittany river ports of Treguier, Lezardrieux and l'Abervrach provide a unique taste of Brittany which is denied to most land travellers. The Atlantic coast from Brest down to Royan has less fierce tides, except for the infamous races through the Chenal de Four and round the Pointe du Raz. The jewels of this cruising area are the beautiful Atlantic islands of Ile de Groix, Belle Ile, Ile d'Yeu, Ile de Ré and Ile d'Oléron, where, apart from a few hectic weeks from mid-July to end August, life goes on at a tranquil pace and nature is everywhere. The coast from Royan down to the Spanish border is mostly flat and featureless, with the exception of the shallow bay of Arcachon, and most yachtsmen make straight for the French Basque ports of St Jean de Luz and Hendaye.

Continuing anti-clockwise, cruising in France resumes at the border with Mediterranean Spain and extends from the small harbour of Banyuls up to the Italian border at Menton. This very popular and busy cruising area includes the world-renowned, low-lying marshland area of La Camargue around Saintes Maries de la Mer, the cobalt blue sea inlets of Les Calanques around Marseille, the idyllic offshore Iles d'Hyères and the fleshpots of the Riviera Coast such as St Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Nice. Finally, some of the most interesting sailing, landscape, history and culture is to be encountered around the French island of Corsica, where harbours such as Calvi, Ajaccio, Bonifacio and Bastia have a character and personality all of their own.

In many coastal areas of France (especially in Brittany and only really excluding, inevitably, the major ports) the visiting yachtsman will experience some of the most welcoming and 'sympathique' people to be found anywhere in Europe. However, as a nation which attaches a lot of importance to courtesy, the French like to see it reciprocated and the smiles will rapidly fade if it is not. Visitors who take the trouble to learn at least a few phrases in French and utter them at every opportunity (no matter how mangled) will always receive a warmer welcome than those who mouth slowly in English (or German) at ever-increasing volume.

Charts

See individual ports.

Weather

Sources of weather forecasting:

  • List of radio transmissions available at WMO
  • List of NAVTEX transmissions available at WMO

Local forecasts are, of course, in French, but non-French speakers should find them relatively easy to understand. A very useful vocabulary can be found at How to Understand French Weather Forecasts for Sailors


Passages

Communication

  • VHF 16: the french name of MRCC is "CROSS".
    CROSS Corsen (West channel, north Britanny, from Mont-Saint-Michel to pointe de Penmarch)
    CROSS Etel (Biscaye bay, from pointe de Penmarch to spanish border)
    (the "Cross" often ask you to change channel 67, 68, 69)
  • VHF 63: continuous weather forecast on channel 63 (west coast of Britanny)
  • VHF 13: imperative call for access to the Ria of Etel (2H before/after high tide)
  • VHF 09: all the marinas

Navigation

Any navigation notes here. If this section does not apply remove it.

Entrance

EU Vessels & EU Nationals
For European Union members, EU regulations apply. Vessels arriving from another EU country do not need to clear customs, they must however report to Immigration. Vessels registered in countries falling under the Schengen Agreement, (i.e. vessels from Spain or Italy) do not need to clear immigration.

Non-EU Vessels (incl. EU vessels with non-EU nationals aboard)
The skipper must report to customs at a port of entry with the ship's registration papers and passports and sometimes the customs officials will visit the boat on arrival. The Customs officials may also sometimes inspect yachts that are up to 12 miles from the coast. The port captain must be contacted immediately on arrival in a marina or port, and he will usually notify Customs. If not, the skipper must phone Customs.

Customs and Immigration

Immigration

Nationals of the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Iceland, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay and the United States do not require visas for a stay of up to three months. All other nationalities require visas which must be obtained in advance. See Official Site for full details of visa requirements and how to apply.

Customs

  • Firearms MUST be declared.
  • PETS - France will accept animals which arrive under the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) Cats and dogs must have an anti-rabies vaccination certificate (dated at least 30 days in advance and within 12 months of date of entry). A Health Certificate from a veterinarian (dated within 5 days of travel to France), is required. Other animals must be inspected by the health official on arrival. A maximum of three dogs and/or cats may be brought in on the vessel.

Formalities

Vessels remaining in France
EU regulations apply concerning temporary importation. Non-EU boats are allowed to remain inside France for up to 6 months during any 12-month period. Vessels wanting to stay longer must lodge the ship's papers with the local Customs office, who will place the vessel under a "bond". The clock will then be stopped until the owner returns on board. During the period that the vessel is in "bond", the vessel must NOT be moved from its berth, and NO-ONE is allowed to sleep aboard.

Vessels that are borrowed, chartered or owned by companies can arrive in France under a temporary importation permit. The SAME PERSON that brought the vessel into France MUST remain in charge and take it out of the country again. If arriving on a "borrowed" vessel, you must have written permission for the use of the vessel from the owner and that the vessel can enter French waters.

Crew changes are allowed while in France if the "entry" skipper remains on board. The only changes of owner or captain allowed are on privately owned vessels, where the person in charge may hand over control to a member of the immediate family (spouse or children), who must not be resident in France. A vessel's co-owner may hand over to another co-owner, who is listed as such on the official ship's documents. Delivery crews may bring in a vessel into France for the owner to take over, or sail a yacht out of France on behalf of an owner, provided that a proper delivery agreement is documented. The yacht being delivered is not allowed to stop anywhere else in France except at French ports of entry/exit, unless the vessel is forced to stop elsewhere due to adverse weather conditions or other unforseen circumstances.

Yachts may not be "lent", "hired" or sold while in French waters, while under the above temporary importation permit.

Only bareboat charters are permitted in French waters and if the yacht is foreign owned, proper formalities and registrations must be completed.

Taking on paying "crew" is not permitted in France - this is considered to be chartering. If a vessel is carrying paying passengers, this must be declared to Customs on arrival in France, the yacht imported and TVA (Value Added Tax) must be paid.

Documents

Vessels must carry their original registration document, insurance policy and ship's radio licence. At least one member of the crew must have a radio operator’s certificate of competence. For EU boats, proof of VAT status is also required.

Health & Security

Health

Submit any health warnings/information. Remove any of these sections do not apply to this particular country.

Security

Details?

Regions

Mediterranean

This region could be divided into following subregions:

  • Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Provence
  • Côte d'Azur
  • Corsica

See Mediterranean coast of France for further details.

Atlantic Coast

Bay of Biscay (Golfe de Gascogne)

Ports
Aber-wrac'h Aber-wrac'h /wiki/Aber-wrac%27h Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Arcachon Arcachon /wiki/Arcachon Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Audierne Audierne /wiki/Audierne Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Bayonne Bayonne /wiki/Bayonne Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
Benodet Benodet /wiki/Benodet Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Bordeaux-Bassens Bordeaux-Bassens /wiki/Bordeaux-Bassens Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
Brest Brest /wiki/Brest Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Camaret-sur-mer Camaret-sur-mer /wiki/Camaret-sur-mer Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Concarneau Concarneau /wiki/Concarneau Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Douarnenez Douarnenez /wiki/Douarnenez Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Hendaye-Behobie Hendaye-Behobie /wiki/Hendaye-Behobie Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
La Boule (Pornichet) La Boule (Pornichet) /wiki/La_Boule_(Pornichet) Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
La Rochelle La Rochelle /wiki/La_Rochelle Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
La Trinite-sur-Mer La Trinite-sur-Mer /wiki/La_Trinite-sur-Mer Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Les Sables d'Olonne Les Sables d'Olonne /wiki/Les_Sables_d%27Olonne Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Lorient Lorient /wiki/Lorient Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Nantes Nantes /wiki/Nantes Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Pauillac-Trompeloup Pauillac-Trompeloup /wiki/Pauillac-Trompeloup Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Port Crouesty Port Crouesty /wiki/Port_Crouesty Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Port-La-Foret Port-La-Foret /wiki/Port-La-Foret Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Quiberon Bay Quiberon Bay /wiki/Quiberon_Bay Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Quimper Quimper /wiki/Quimper Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Rochefort Rochefort /wiki/Rochefort Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Royan Royan /wiki/Royan Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Saint-Jean-de-Luz Saint-Jean-de-Luz /wiki/Saint-Jean-de-Luz Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
St Nazaire St Nazaire /wiki/St_Nazaire Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Vannes Vannes /wiki/Vannes Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Islands
Belle Ile Belle Ile /wiki/Belle_Ile Harbour icon – harbour |
Ile de Groix Ile de Groix /wiki/Ile_de_Groix Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Ile de Re Ile de Re /wiki/Ile_de_Re Harbour icon – harbour |
Ile d'Oleron Ile d'Oleron /wiki/Ile_d%27Oleron Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Ile d'Yeu Ile d'Yeu /wiki/Ile_d%27Yeu Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage |

English Channel (La Manche)

Ports
Boulogne Boulogne /wiki/Boulogne Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Caen-Ouistreham Caen-Ouistreham /wiki/Caen-Ouistreham Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Calais Calais /wiki/Calais Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Dieppe Dieppe /wiki/Dieppe Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Dunkirk Dunkirk /wiki/Dunkirk Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Fecamp Fecamp /wiki/Fecamp Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Granville Granville /wiki/Granville Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Gravelines Gravelines /wiki/Gravelines Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Honfleur Honfleur /wiki/Honfleur Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Le Havre Le Havre /wiki/Le_Havre Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Le Touquet-Etaples Le Touquet-Etaples /wiki/Le_Touquet-Etaples Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Le Treport Le Treport /wiki/Le_Treport Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Lezardrieux Lezardrieux /wiki/Lezardrieux Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Morlaix Morlaix /wiki/Morlaix Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Paimpol Paimpol /wiki/Paimpol Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Roscoff Roscoff /wiki/Roscoff Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
St Malo St Malo /wiki/St_Malo Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
St Quay-Portrieux St Quay-Portrieux /wiki/St_Quay-Portrieux Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Islands
Chausey Islands Chausey Islands /wiki/Chausey_Islands Needs data icon – needs data |

Overseas Departments and Territories

Departments Territories and islands
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe /wiki/Guadeloupe Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Martinique Martinique /wiki/Martinique Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
French Guiana French Guiana /wiki/French_Guiana Needs data icon – needs data |
Reunion Reunion /wiki/Reunion Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Mayotte Mayotte /wiki/Mayotte Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
St Martin St Martin /wiki/St_Martin Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |
French Polynesia (Tahiti)French Polynesia (Tahiti)/wiki/French_Polynesia Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie)New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie)/wiki/New_Caledonia Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (Saint Pierre et Miquelon)Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (Saint Pierre et Miquelon)/wiki/Saint-Pierre_and_Miquelon Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Wallis and FutunaWallis and Futuna/wiki/Wallis Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Terres Antarctiques et Australes Françaises, TAAFTerres Antarctiques et Australes Françaises, TAAF/wiki/TAAF
(French Southern and Antarctic Lands,
consisting of Terre Adélie in Antarctica
and some islands in the Indian Ocean)
Iles Eparses
(scattered islands of the Indian Ocean):
Kerguelen Islands Kerguelen Islands /wiki/Kerguelen_Islands Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Europa Island Europa Island /wiki/Europa_Island Island icon – island |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Bassas da India Bassas da India /wiki/Bassas_da_India Island icon – island |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Juan de Nova Juan de Nova /wiki/Juan_de_Nova Island icon – island |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Glorieuses Islands Glorieuses Islands /wiki/Glorieuses_Islands Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Clipperton Clipperton/wiki/Clipperton Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |

Inland waterways

  • Caudebec-en-Caux Caudebec-en-Caux /wiki/Caudebec-en-Caux Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Metz Metz /wiki/Metz Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Rouen - Seine Rouen - Seine /wiki/Rouen_-_Seine Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Strasbourg Strasbourg /wiki/Strasbourg Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |

Transportation

List transportation to other countries, etc.

Friends

Submit details/contacts of cruiser's "friends" that can be contacted in advance or on arrival - who can offer information and assistance to our cruising "family".

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

Atlantic

Mediterranean

Inland Waterways

Websites that List Available Guides & Books

  • RCC Pilotage Foundation, Passage Planning Map based index to RCC Crusing Guide Books & Passage Planning Guides.
  • Imray produce many Cruising Guides for Many areas of the world.
  • Conference of Yacht Cruising Clubs (UK), Sailing Directions published by CYCC members has many guides for the UK and a few that cover over areas of Europe.
  • Ocean Cruising Club, Cruising Areas This website contains information for a large number of cruing areas including brief information about each area and a list of guide books as well as a Google map of the locations in the reports.
  • Cruising Association, Publications Books and Cruising Guides.
  • Adlard Coles Nautical Publisher, Cruising & Chartering Produce a number of Cruising Guides and Passage Planning Books as well as many other nautical books.
  • Bookharbour.com (Kelvin Hughes Limited) On Line Book Shop Has many Pilot books covering many areas of the world.
  • Kathy Parsons, French for Cruisers (French language instructional book), Aventuras Publishing Company, ISBN 0-9675905-1-5

Comments

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