A Guide to Experiencing the Best of the French Coastline
France's accessible coastal paths offer ramblers and cyclists the chance to discover its authentic natural spaces. What surprised me the most from my time on the coast in France was how there is so much more to this country's coastline than just natural beauty - stunning though it is. There is an abundance of cultural and entertainment activities that allow for an eclectic holiday experience to suit all tastes and ages, and although there is much to do at the seaside in France all year round, the summer and autumn seasons really do see the coastline get more lively than ever.
Where to go in...
If you're planning to go to France in the summer I recommend starting any coastal trip in the fishing town of Dunkerque (otherwise known as Dunkirk), not far from the Belgian border. It's here that you can witness the departure of the action packed annual countrywide sailing race known as the Tour de France à la Voile. In the Animation Village in particular, you'll be able to experience the Tour de France as though you're there every step of the way, hosting games, entertainment and recreational activities. There is also a lively party scene in the tents each night and opportunities on the nearby beaches to Windsurf and Stand Up Paddle. Aside from this though, Dunkerque's position on the Channel coast makes it a convenient first stop, and its famous wartime history provides a cultural significance to your trip that you won't forget.
The Corsican coast is where you will find the true revellers. For young travellers looking to experience more of a music festival atmosphere, I recommend going northwest of the island to Calvi on the Rocks from 3 to 8 July. With bands such as Hot Chip, Caribou and De La Soul playing, the 13th edition of this festival is going to be a highlight of the French summer.
Alternatively, if rock, pop and electro are more your thing, don't miss out on Porto Vecchio Festival, also in Corsica. It takes place from 28 to 31 August, with DJ sets and concerts happening right on Santa Giulia beach. In its 4th year, the party rumbles from noon until sunset with a daytime DJ set, before turning into a live music stage well into the evening.
Last but not least, Planet Beach at Saint-Jean-de-Monts on the Atlantic coast offers the perfect active summer fun for families and people of all ages – hosting everything from sporting events to environmental awareness activities. Running from 6 July to 28 August, you can take part in beach volleyball, rugby and football, alongside park walks, morning fitness workouts and yoga, amongst other things. If you want to keep active this summer while on holiday, this is the place to do it.
One of the top Autumn activities to experience in France has got to be the Roxy Pro ASP World Championships, commencing this year on 6th Oct and finishing on 17th Oct. Situated in the area of Hosseger on the south-western Atlantic coast, this epic surfing competition plays host to world-class longboard, shortboard and tandem surfers. There is also after-hours Hawaii-themed fun with music and dancing for those looking to watch the surfing by day and party by night.
Alternatively, if culture is more your thing and you are planning on staying closer to the Channel coast, check out 'Planche(s) Contact' Festival of Contemporary Photography in Deauville. The town plays host to the works of a variety of contemporary photographers in the fashion, press and humanist fields.
For me, France is the ultimate seaside destination for the more active and curious of travellers because it offers a mix of coastal landscapes, culture, adventure and relaxation - I genuinely can't think of any other country in Europe that can offer this variety of activities along its coastline. For this reason, a seaside tour of France is one of my most memorable and top recommended trips. So, what festivals and activities will you be joining this year?