France is not only the most visited country in the world but remains a top sailing destination in the Mediterranean thanks mostly to the famous resorts on a stretch of land known locally and worldwide as the Cote d'Azur. What draws so many yacht charter sailors to these shores is the beautiful landscape, a laidback lifestyle and a wonderful cuisine.
Unknown to many, France is actually the most popular tourist destination in the whole world, surpassing most other countries only because it has such a wide variety of attractions and different kinds of activities. So chances are that if you like something, the French probably have it already. From Paris to the Alps and from the Alps to the French Riviera, there’s a little bit for everyone to enjoy and it is a fantastic place for your sailing holiday too.
Paris is undoubtedly the best-known and most-loved city in the world, with a long history and a myriad of landmarks that appear on any tourist’s “to see” list. Millions of people come here every year, whether for work or for pleasure and sometimes both.
The next big crowd pleaser in France has to be the Riviera or Cote d’Azur as the French call it, a reference to the colour of the Mediterranean by the French shores. It runs from the town of Menton near the Italian border all the way to Hyéres in Western France. Its popularity grew constantly from the 18th century when British and Russian tourists turned it into their favourite health resort. Today, it’s not only a playground for the rich and famous but also a top destination for yacht charter.
There are lots of spots along the coast where you can vacation and one is more beautiful than the other. But this diversity does not diminish the coast's popularity, if anything it’s a bonus of which you can take full advantage on your boat rental. You’ll find glitz and glam in cities like Monte Carlo, Saint Tropez and Cannes while places like Nice, Marseille or Hyéres are more laid back and accessible.
When the beaches on the Riviera get too crowded during summer, some yacht charter holidaymakers venture out further in the Mediterranean, on the French island of Corsica. Here, the image and memory of the great man that was Napoleon Bonaparte still weighs heavily, but the rugged beauty of the Corsican landscape and the rustic atmosphere cannot be denied. Cities like Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi or Propriano cater to a wide assortment of tourists year in and year out.
Law & Order
Because sailing has such a long history in France and is so widely popular, there are a lot of boats sailing the French shores at any time. Pleasure boats in particular are numerous in this part of the Mediterranean as any yacht hire aficionado can see them moored in endless rows in various marinas. With so many vessels and so many skippers out there, both local and foreign, a set of rules and regulations is needed in order to keep things under control.
There are two types of yachting in France: Sailing on the open waters and sailing on inland waters (on one of France’s numerous canals and rivers which run the length of the country). Both require a specific type of license which can be obtained locally. When it comes to boats driven by an engine with a bigger output than 6 horsepower, French law dictates that you hold a license: La carte du mer (sea license), le permis mer cotier (coastal license) or le permis mer hauturier (deep sea license), depending on where the charter skipper will be sailing.
For those who use yacht charter services a temporary license (Carte Plaisance) can be issued for a predetermined period of time by the company hiring you the boat. If your family wants to get in on the action, there is even a Junior option to the Carte Plaisance given to young skippers between the ages of 14 and 16.
Traveling to France is easy, but there are a couple of things required of the tourist before entering the country. While a visa is not needed for EU nationals or for US and Australian citizens, all foreigners entering the country need a valid passport. If your sailing vacation should extend more than 90 days, you should apply for a temporary-stay visa.