So, what’s so special about about sailing in France?

France is one of the preferred countries by tourists from all over the world. It has a rich culture, an impressive history, exquisite cuisine and a large variety of natural attractions. Paris is the most visited city in the world. Other popular destinations include the Alpes mountains in the southeast and the vineyards in the southwest. All of these destinations are inland.

However, France also offers some of the most impressive coasts in the world, visited by thousands of boats and yachts visiting every year. From north to south, France offers numerous ports and marinas with the most exclusive services and repair facilities, so that you can enjoy your boat holiday without having to worry about anything other than your planned route.

Whether you are attracted by the raw coastline of the Atlantic, the glamorous beaches of the Mediterranean, or the remote beauty of Corsica, France is the perfect destination for a sailing holiday.

French flag on the back of a motorboat

France offers some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. From the crystal clear water of the French Riviera to tidal creeks in Brittany, this sailing territory provides a great deal of cruising diversity. Acting like a magnet, France attracts sailors from all levels of expertise and all nationalities.

Historically, this country has always been a land of a sailor and is still a leading nation regarding the nautical world. Famous sailors are equally famous as movie stars and some of the world’s biggest boat manufacturers are France-based. Regarding both its geolocation and its culture, it is hardly a surprise to say that France is a sailing hub and one of the most receptive countries for leisure yachtsmen.

Sailing region speaking, France can be divided into three mains area. Each one has its special attraction, tradition and cuisine.

The Mediterranean coast is outstanding for anyone looking for the nicest weather and those who find their pleasure ashore. Places like Antibes or Saint-Tropez cannot be beaten when it comes to luxurious yachts from all over the world. It is worth the detour.

Going clockwise, the Atlantic coast, from the French Basque ports to Brittany offer natural estuaries and many lovely harbours. This is the yachting center in France as regular winds make it a true paradise for sailors.

Looking for a more challenging area? Then the English Channel is perfect for you. This is a lightly popular destination whereas the Mediterranean coast can be busy as a sailing region during July and August, the English Channel area is very quiet.

Marinas and ports can be found all along the coastline. Most of them provide repair facilities and chandlery.

Finally, cruising visitors in France will surely meet some of the friendliest and welcoming people in Europe. And for two reasons. First, the sailing community is a worldwide family.

It doesn’t matter what kind of boat you’re in or your level of experience, there will always be someone willing to help you. Planning to stay in a marina for days? Most of them have vibrant liveaboard communities.

Back to France, the second reason is that the French care a lot about courtesy.

We’re sure you’ve heard stories of rude French people, but despite received ideas about it, the French will happily help you or share a glass of wine with you.

But here is the deal.

French people like to see a reciprocated smile and if by any chance you took the trouble to learn some basic words, you’re in.

Follow this and you’ll always receive a warmer welcome at the harbours than those who speak  English and lack a friendly smile.


  • Explore the Marseille surrounding and Calanques
  • Visit Corsica, nothing else to add.
  • Discover Brittany’s breathtaking landscape.
  • Sail around the famous Fort Boyard
  • Take a relaxing break at the French Riviera
  • Navigate among centuries of seafood cultivation and wine producing at the shallow bay of Arcachon

a photo of boats in bretagne

Best Time To Sail

The best time to sail vary according to the sailing area. Without surprise, July and August are the perfect months however it’s also peak tourists period. During those two months, it can look like the entire nation own a boat.

On the Atlantic side, the climate is temperate and the sailing season starts from early June to late September. The coast has a temperate climate and the winds mainly come from the south-west.

The English Channel has the same weather than the UK, a few degrees warmer but as just variable.

On the Mediterranean side, you can sail all year in warm weather but the coldest month are between late november to march. If you are planning to sail during this period, better have a heater in cabin.

Local Forecast is in French but are quite easy to understand from non-French speakers.


France is part of the European Union, hence EU regulation applies in this country.

If you own a boat and want to enter in France

  • From another EU country, there is no need for customs clearance. Just report to the immigration. Moreover, if you come from a country under the Schengen Agreement, no need to clear immigration
  • For the non-EU country, the skipper must report to the port of entry with the boat’s document and passport. In some cases, the Customs may inspect boats up to 12 miles off the coast.

Many countries do not need a visa for a stayed up to three months. The countries concerned are

  • European Union nationalities
  • Argentina
  • Australia,
  • Brunei,
  • Canada,
  • Chile,
  • Iceland,
  • Israel
  • South Korea,
  • Mexico,
  • New Zealand,
  • Norway,
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore,
  • Uruguay
  • United States

All other nationalities have to obtain a visa in advance. You’ll find all the information needed here:

Concerning people who want to rent a boat based in France, worry not! All you need is a passport and your boating licence if needed.

Calanques of Marseille France Boat trip


  • Time Zone : UTC +1
  • (UTC +2 during summer time, from the last sunday of march until the last sunday of October)
  • Emergencies number
  • Medical emergencies : 15
  • European medical emergencie : 112
  • Police : 17
  • Fire service : 18
  • Calling code : +33
  • Currency : Euro


Many events worth participating are taking places all over France’s coast. Whether they are directly linked with the nautical world or not, here are some of our favourite events.

  • vendée globe
  • festival interceltique
  • Solitaire du Figaro
  • more to come…

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