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Sometimes overshadowed by the popularity of Greece and Croatia, France has much to offer sailors with its diverse sailing ground. Whether you want to embrace sophisticated cafe culture in the south of France, sail Brittany’s magnificent bays or enjoy Poitou-Charentes’ islands with wide, sandy beaches, the west and south coast is a sailor’s paradise.
Brittany sits on the north west French coast into the Atlantic. It’s known as the Côte de Granit Rose, the pink granite coast, for good reason as the rocky coastline is a deep pink, which offsets the deep blue-green sea.
- St Malo – Navigate the Emerald coast up to Cancale and try local oysters. Or you can reach the Channel Islands, Cézembre, Le Grand Bay, Chausey Islands and the little Ebihens archipelago
- Bréhat – This archipelago of two islands is separated at high tide. Anchor at La Chambre cove and look out for colonies of seabirds, from gulls to cormorants, as well as puffins
- Quiberon Bay – In the heart of the bay is La Trinite sur Mer, a fishing village well known for its fresh seafood. Sail to the deep water port of Crouesty, at the end of the Rhys peninsula, before heading to Palais, Belle Île en Mer. Sail past the local landmark rock called Le Cochon and take in the beaches, rock stacks and coves galore before a stop at Ster Ouen cove. If you have time, sail to Hoëdic and the port of La Croix
- Gulf of Morbihan – Meander from Locmariaquer, with its megalithic sites, and explore 42 islands, including Île aux Moines and Île d’Arz. Go ashore for hiking trails or sail the coasts for quiet swimming in coves and creeks
Poitou Charentes and Pays de Loire Islands
Charter from these two special regions to experience large bays and hopping between peaceful islands with sweeping sandy beaches that stretch for miles.
- Île d’Yeu – Off the Vendée coast, this island has an impressive fishing history including tuna, sardines and lobster. Anchor at Port Joinville and relax on long, sandy beaches, surrounded by dunes
- Île de Ré – Stop by nearby La Rochelle, with its medieval fortifications, and sail to the White Island. Discover a traditional way of life, from salt production to the famous donkeys in trousers. Climb the steps of the Phare des Baleines lighthouse or Saint. Martin’s bell tower
- Ile d’Oléron – France’s second largest island boasts 25 sandy beaches and thrilling surf at La Grande Plage. Take a walk in pine forests and food lovers need to visit the local oyster farm, as it is produces most of the country’s oysters
- Ile d’Aix – A tiny island with a big history – you can visit the house where Napoleon surrendered to the English. Or you can soak up the coastal views without traffic noise as the island is car-free
Elegant Côte d’Azur
For the ultimate in glamorous European sailing, book a charter in the French Riviera and mix with the most famous Hollywood stars and business brains on the planet. Dine at Michelin star ‘ocean to plate’ restaurants, try your luck at glossy casinos or spot amazing super yachts in the marinas.
- Marseille – Visit in June for the popular Fête de la Musique, a free music festival, or stroll around the old port of Marseille, flanked by Fort Saint-Jean and Saint-Laurent Church. The impressive Notre-Dame de la Garde overlooks the port and Pointe Rouge beach is popular for sunbathing
- Nice – the region’s largest city with its renowned museums, arts and entertainment. Head out east along the coast to Monaco via the brightly painted fishing village, Villefranche-sur-Mer, with its Italian-influenced gourmet treats in the old town. Sail to the tiny, but unspoilt seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and relax in its olive tree-fringed main square, Place Marinoni. For upmarket, boutique shopping, make for the port town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
- Toulon – An important military base, surprisingly, the harbour was built from a tax on olive oil hundreds of years ago. This is the perfect gateway to explore the nearby Golden Isles of Porquerolles, Port Cros with its national park and Le Levant
- St Raphael – A renowned watersports destination, it is also popular for its wonderful coastline and sandy beaches at Veilat, Boulouris and Agay. You’ll also see the backdrop of the Massif de l’Esterel mountain range
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