It is really difficult to decide which port or marina is better than the other. It is even more difficult to make a list of ‘best’ ports. Task becomes extremely tough when I need to make a list of best tourist ports in France. There are so many and almost all of them are just great. So, what I did today? I made a list, but one that expresses this week’s feeling and affinity. Doing like this, I’m still sure I won’t make a mistake or lead you in a wrong direction. Because marinas on this short and sweet list are beautiful and extraordinary. Visiting at least one of them is an excellent move for having a great sailing in France.
Marina of Nice
If you want to get to your marina fast and still be able to visit all main tourist attractions in the city, marina of Nice is just the place for you. It is located in the heart of the old town and only 4 km from the airport. Almost completely surrounded by the old town, this marina is one of the most unusual ports in France. Great place to start your sailing around Côte d’Azur. If you just feel lazy, you can always get NGV, a high speed ferry. It is the only port in France that has it, and with its services trip to Corsica lasts only from 2.5 to 3 hours. Great thing for day trips to Corsica. But, you know, you can get to the island with your sailboat, it’s the better way.
If the city of Nice is just too big or crowded for your taste, you can sail just a little bit to the east. There you’ll find picturesque little town of Villefranche-sur-Mer with its marina. It is located only 10 km southwest of Monaco, so if you want to drop by to one of Monte Carlo casinos and spin a wheel for a few times, Villefranche is a nice place to start. Villefranche has the deepest natural harbor comparing to all ports in France. Moreover, it is one of the deepest in the Mediterranean. If you want to make splendid photos, you can always anchor in Villefranche bay. From there you can climb up at Mont – Leuze (520 m) above the town and enjoy the view. Marina itself has capacity of 420 berths, with all services one can need.
Port de plaisance de La Rochelle
And from Mediterranean, we go to Atlantic coast. This one is intended for those who like to fight the waves of Atlantic and then come to safe harbor. Port de plaisance de La Rochelle is a new port, formed between 1970 and 1972 in front of the old port of La Rochelle. Creators of new marina project, guided with concepts ‘sail for pleasure’ and ‘yachting for all’, created huge marina, with almost 5000 berths. If you think it is such a drag to travel all the way from Paris for jump in a sailboat on windy Atlantic, think twice. You can reach La Rochelle with a train within 3 hours. And although Brighton marina is the biggest in Europe by surface, Port de plaisance de La Rochelle is the proof that ports in France have their ace in the sleeve. La Rochelle outstrips Brighton by 3500 berths!
Camargue and Canet
Still, if you think that places I mentioned are just not your cup of tea, you can visit magical southern France. There are two great marinas there – Camargue and Canet. These places are located on the opposite sides of Gulf de Lion. Camargue is closer to Montpellier and Canet is very close to the Spanish border. With its size, port Camargue is now what La Rochelle was in the seventies. It has 5000 berths for boats up to 30 meters in length and impressive technical area of 4.5 hectares. Canet on the other hand, takes pride in its well equipped docks and excellent dry dock area. It has capacity for 977 boats, up to 24 meters length.
In the end, quality of these ports is very close to each other. You can only choose by your affinity. If you feel you need a dash of luxury and a little bit of luck, you’ll choose Côte d’Azur – Nice and Villefranche. If you want to try Atlantic like sailors of old, you’ll go to historical La Rochelle. And if you like southern winds, there are Camargue and Canet for you. Ports in France are amazing, it’s your choice where to go for this vacation!