Whether you are a beginner or an expert yachtsman, sailing in France is always a fun experience. With coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, France has more assortment to offer the cruising mariner than some other European nation. From the beautiful island of Corsica to the tidal streams and shallow estuaries of Brittany and the chic ports of the Côte d’Azur (the French Riviera), there several spots to choose from when you want to sail in France. The Mediterranean offers at least three spots for cruising, The Cote d’Azur, The Gulf of Lion, and around the island of Corsica. Although the Corsica and Cote d’Azur are more popular for sailing in France, there are also cooler areas on the Atlantic coast around the south Brittany and the English Channel.
The Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera, is among the popular sailing destinations in France. It has for quite some time been known as the spot of the rich and popular however it’s not all gambling clubs and superyachts. There are various satisfying holiday towns and a decent supply of sandy shorelines. The surrounding mountainous countryside is dominated by the Massif des Maures and the Maritime Alps. What’s more, sailors are better able to get to breathtakingly beautiful and calmer spots in among the off-lying islands. Sailing here is sometimes affected by the Marin and milder force of the dreaded Mistral winds. It is best to sail in this region in the months of May, June, September, and October.
The Island of Corsica offers more dramatic landscapes. With exceptionally rugged and substantial white precipices towering over the ocean, radiant medieval towns, green slopes and mountain ranges, the Corsica is a good place to sail in France. Cruising from the stunningly beautiful Corsican port town of Macinaggio to the historic beachfront town of Saint Florent is a great experience. Although the climate is usually good with light winds, there’s also the threat of being hit by the Mistral which blows from the NW, down the valley of Rhone and affects sailing in both areas.
In cases of strong winds affecting your cruise, there are several places to go along the French Riviera. There are a number of marinas and anchorages to help you take short cruises through the coast. Given its notoriety and popularity, you can choose to moor up in upscale places like Saint-Tropez or Monaco. But there are more budget-friendly options too. You can reach the Cote d’Azur via the Nice or Toulon airports with the latter having flights, including on Saturdays, from Stansted and London City. You can get better daily services from various UK airports at Nice. There are various routes to Corsica. Flights are available from Manchester and Gatwick to Bastia, and from Gatwick to Ajaccio. You could also sail the long distance from the Cote d’Azur.
The Gulf of Lion and the Mistral
Despite the fact that it can be fun for expert sailors to cruise the Gulf of Lion, one must exercise extreme caution as this is the territory of the feared chilly, stormy winds, the Mistral and the Tramontane. Even though there are less frequent occurrences in summer than in winter, these winds can suddenly show up at any time and may keep going for several days.
Have fun cruising safely!