Sailing in France: Cote d´Azur or Brittany?

France is one of the most diversified sailing regions in Europe, if not the world. With more than 3,000 km of varied coastline along two different bodies of water, it may be difficult to decide where to go sailing in France. To help you decide where to spend your next boat holiday in France, we’re featuring two very different, yet alluring coastal regions: Brittany and Côte d’Azur. 

sailing in france
The French coast in the Mediterranean is an ever more popular destination for a yacht holiday.

Sailing in France: Where to start?

Choosing where to go sailing in France often depends on your sailing experience and what kind of holiday you are looking for. The calm waters of the Mediterranean in the south are great for beginners or for anyone looking to relax and discover the charm and glamour of the colourful seafront villages of the Côte d’Azur. For more experienced sailors, the rugged coastline of Brittany on the Atlantic Ocean may be an appealing destination for those that have a taste for adventure and for those who may be looking for a bit of a challenge. Both regions offer excellent sailing conditions and a diverse range of historic sites, charming villages and lovely beaches so whichever region you decide, you will be sure to have an amazing holiday sailing in France.

Sailing in Côte d’Azur

If you want to experience a leisurely sailing trip, head to the Côte d’Azur. Explore the gorgeous coast as you sail from one chic city to the next. Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez are just a few of the top destinations in the region to visit during your boat trip in Côte d’Azur. Some popular marinas in southern France include Grimaud, Le Lavandou, Saint-Raphael or if you are looking for a bit more glamour, of course, there’s always St. Tropez.

Le Lavandou is an enchanting harbour town that still retains its typical Provencal charm. From here it is not far to the islands Ile du Levant and Ile de Port-Cros. If sailing around Le Lavandou be sure not to miss the long sandy beaches of Cavaliere and Saint Clair.

If you start in Grimaud, you should take a small trip with the dinghy through Port Grimaud. The water based village of Port Grimaud was built by architect François Spoerry and can only be accessed by boat. At Saint-Raphael we recommend a visit to the ancient harbour in the nearby Frejus.

sailing in france
Port Grimaud – the “Venice of Provence”

Just around the corner of Grimaud is the chic town of St. Tropez. Home to super yachts and exclusive night clubs, the seafront town has been welcoming jet-setters from the 1960s onwards. Take a walk in town before jumping back on board your yacht to explore more of the coast. From the Gulf of St. Tropez you can visit the Hyenian islands, famed for their golden shimmering cliffs.

Want to see some of the most beautiful yachts in the world?

Further up the coast not far from Cannes, lies the Massif de l’Estérel: an intriguing coastal mountain range, which is a particularly impressive sight from your own private yacht. The park also offers some great activities on land including hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.

sailing in france
The red rocks of the Massif de l’Estérel on the coast. Photo by Pascal Blachier.

All in all, the Côte d’Azur is a rather quiet sailing retreat. It is recommended to plan your sailing trip here anytime between May and September.

Sailing in Brittany

If you are looking for an exciting sailing trip with rugged coastlines and varied tides, you should definitely spend your sailing holiday in Brittany. Brittany is divided into two distinct areas. The northern region of Brittany includes the area of St. Malo on the English Channel, the Channel islands Jersey and Guernsey and as far as the Ile d’Ouessant, where the famous lighthouse photo by the French photographer Philippe Plisson was taken.

sailing in france

If choosing to sail in the western region of Brittany, Arzon is an excellent place to explore the Atlantic coast of France. The two major marinas in this area include Port du Crouesty and the famous, La Trinité-sur-Mer, which lie in the bay of Quiberon.

sailing in france

Southern Brittany is calmer than the north coast. It begins at the Pointe du Raz and extends to the mouth of the Loire. Here, the islands of Ile de Groix and Bel Ile are ideal for an excursion on your private yacht.

sailing in france
Coast of Brittany

It should be noted that sailing in Brittany, especially in the north is more demanding than a holiday on the southern coast and requires more preparation. Tides and wind conditions should be kept in mind. If you do not have enough sailing experience, we recommend a skipper, which you can easily take to your boat in Brittany.

Ready to set sail? Take a look at our selection of boats in France available both in the Mediterranean and Adriatic.