Dear readers, after my anchorage tips around Les Sables d’Olonne, here are some suggestions for the south. For those who just found this post, you should go back to the top of the story here.
So for boats delivered in Bordeaux, you do not have much choice for your first cruise. You need to follow the river called “La Garonne” to get to the Atlantic Ocean. You then have the choice to go north towards “the island of Ré” and “the island of Aix” (so you will find some tips for this area here) or to head south toward the famous “Arcachon Bay”.
Estuary of the Garonne: Royan / Port Médoc
There is not really a great spot that I can talk about in this area. There are two harbours if you need some supplies: Royan and Port Medoc. But a beautiful thing to see in this area is the Cordouan lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of the most exceptional in France and so it is called the “Versailles castle of lighthouses”. In fact there is some beautiful wood work inside and a pretty chapel. So if you can make a stop at Royan why not visit the lighthouse? It’s worth it (some charter boats do the connection with Royan harbour because you cannot do it by yourself).
More info about the Cordouan lighthouse here.
This place is an amazing ecosystem, where a dune lives with a great pine forest surround by water and sand banks. But this area can be dangerous if a strong swell is announced. Indeed, the entrance of the Arcachon bay can be full of breaking waves. Have in your mind that it is not by chance that this area of the France and all the south west is a well known surf spot.
This fantastic area was chosen for several photo and video shootings. You can see this beautiful bay in this video of the Lagoon 620.
Arguin Sandbar and Cap Ferret
You have the choice: have a look at the foot of the famous Pyla dune and climb to its top to see one of the most beautiful seascapes in south-western France or to go to the bank of Arguin. This spot is over-packed during the summer but if you are lucky and if it is not overcrowded you could feel like in the middle of the ocean on a desert island. This sand bank is always modified by the current so ask the harbour office where they are when you decide to go.
Another great place is the Cap Ferret. This place is calm, far from the Arcachon busy city. There is also a kind of natural harbour with a sandbar which protects you from the current on the internal west coast of the Arcachon bay.
Island of Birds
In the middle of Arcachon Bay, a spot called “ile aux oiseaux”(“bird island”), due to migratory birds coming during the fall, is a place famous for its typical houses on stilts. This kind of house was once used by oyster farmers to keep an eye on their precious product. Nowadays, one of these houses is a holiday house without any power or water circuit and the other belong to the municipality of La Teste.
More info about the Arcachon bay here.
If you want to talk about some great sailing aeras or great anchorage spots in your own country, please just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before going to sail, you should check all the security equipments needed aboard. You should check the weather conditions and prepare your cruise with nautical maps and all the nautical documents needed for the sailing area where you want to go to, so as to know all its details and specificities. This article is only aimed at giving you just some touristic indications and cannot be used as a nautical guide.
The best way to go to these places is to choose a day with low tide at midday. So you can spend all day anchor with an arrival and a departure at high tide. It is a safer approach for those of you who are not used to the French tidal range.