Whether fishing, commercial, or yachting, the ports offer a relaxing break. Do you like to stroll near the docks? Then discover the 12 most beautiful ports in France!
Ports, whether from France or elsewhere, always have a special place. For sailors, this is the beginning or end of the journey at sea.
It is a central place to live for locals, while it is a prime place for tourists to stroll, eat, and rest.
Some cities are even built around the latter, contributing to their reputation, whether for their commercial power, historical weight, or unparalleled beauty.
Do you like to go to the docks? Then head to the coasts of France and discover our 12 most beautiful ports in France!
The 12 Most Beautiful Ports In France You Should Visit
1. Port Grimaud
In France, it is customary to find its “regional Venice.” So often the comparison is more than doubtful, it must be admitted that Port-Grimaud is justifiable to speak of “Little Venice Provençal.”
Indeed, Port-Grimaud is much more than just a port. It is an actual city on the water, with architecture straddled between Venice and Provence. Colorful houses, arcades, typical Mediterranean vegetation… The place is enchanting.
For those who dream of taking a boat ride and throwing ink at the foot of their accommodation, Port-Grimaud will be a little paradise.
2. Port of Calvi
Corsica has, inevitably, many ports. All of them are also very beautiful and would have deserved a highlight. But the port of Calvi has that something extra.
It must be said that it concentrates the beauties that we find on the island: a citadel that dominates the quays, colorful houses, beautiful blue water. All are facing the mountains. What more could you ask for?
3. Old Port of Marseille
Here is one if not the best known of the ports of France. And this is no coincidence since the Old Port of Marseille is truly the heart of the Phocaean city. As proof, it is a few meters from the quays that the Town Hall is located.
The Old Port is also a perfect starting point to visit Marseille since the Panier district, the Canebière, Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the MuCEM are all around the port.
But before you leave, go around it. There is nothing better than having a coffee on the terrace or eating a Provencal dish, after mingling with the locals in the markets (fish or flowers), to discover the essence of the place.
4. Port of Paimpol
Let’s continue our selection of the most beautiful ports of France in Brittany. Here too, the ports have a crazy charm, as in Paimpol, for example. There are stone houses, color houses, and boats of many colors to create a natural holiday setting.
Also, it’s a quiet harbor, where you can sit down, close your eyes, and let the sun warm your face.
Finally, the port of Paimpol has a sacred history. Indeed, the port has existed since the beginning of the eighteenth century and was a high place for coastal fishing.
The Paimpolai fishermen were among the first Breton sailors to have fished in Newfoundland (and Iceland).
An initiative that will allow a navigator from Saint-Malo, Jacques Cartier, to discover Canada.
5. The Old Basin of Honfleur
Le Vieux Bassin is a marina nestled in the heart of the old town of Honfleur. When you disembark, you discover these splendid houses with slate roofs that will plunge you into the Normandy of yesteryear.
Then, the look turns to the Old Rigging, these vintage boats now registered on the list of Historical Monuments. They testify to the commercial and fluvial past of the city, also offering us a real leap in time.
But if Honfleur and its Old Basin have a prosperous past, you will see that the place is still lively. The activity has not disappeared, and demonstrations come to energize all this. This offers holidaymakers an enjoyable, colorful break.
6. Old Port of La Rochelle
The Old Port of La Rochelle is considered by many to be the most picturesque port in France. We can understand why, if only for the entrance to the port, between the mythical towers (Saint-Nicolas and de la Chaîne).
Once you have crossed the towers, it is the old town that is offered to you. The opportunity to see the Big Clock, then the promenade, where tourists and locals come to sunbathe. The sunny days are at their best when the sun is at its rendezvous.
And then, in the port, it is impossible not to feel the weight of history. La Rochelle and its Old Port have been the scene of historical moments, such as the Hundred Years War.
But also less glamorous moments, such as colonialism towards New France. The port has become a place of peace and pilgrimage for Francophones, Acadians, and Anglophones.
7. Port of Ciboure (Saint-Jean-de-Luz)
Ciboure is one of the most scenic ports in France, but it is also one of the most authentic. Located at the mouth of the Nivelle, this port has a real picturesque character. The reason for a fantastic setting that only the Basque Country can offer.
Indeed, facing the quays stands an alley of traditional Basque houses, which take up the architecture and colors typical of the eponymous farms. In the background, the Pyrenees bring height to this splendid setting.
And what about the ocean, which seems infinite when observed from the docks?
8. Port of Collioure
If the Côte Vermeille has many jewels, Collioure and its port are the jewels. This port can be used to fish and park 106 boats, so it is a popular and vital tourist attraction.
After a visit to the alleys of the village, nothing beats a passage along the seaside. The city’s most prominent monuments are located around the water, such as the Royal Castle, the lighthouse, the church of Our Lady of the Angels of Collioure, or the Chapel of Saint-Vincent.
Note: To bring back an unforgettable memory of the place, go to the panoramic cornice. Between the port, the old town, and the crystal clear waters, it is a natural postcard setting that awaits you.
9. Port of Menton
In addition to being one of the most beautiful ports in France, the port of Menton is the last port in France before Italy. 950 meters further, you are in the Boot!
But already at the port, you will have the impression of being with the transalpine neighbors. At the same time, if the port itself has a classic infrastructure, its décor is very Italian.
Not surprisingly, Menton has only been French since 1861. That’s why the colorful seaside houses and arcades are so reminiscent of the Ligurian coast.
10. Port of Barfleur
The Port of Barfleur is the very definition of picturesque. Located in one of the most beautiful French villages, it is an unmissable stop in this town, the smallest in the Manche department.
Stroll along the seafront, from where you can admire the typical granite houses, the Cracko lighthouse, and the Church of St. Nicholas.
Last but not least, head as close as possible to the water until you see the Mora commemorative plaque. The latter represents the famous boat with which William the Conqueror began his crazy epic, built-in Barfleur.
Barfleur is, therefore, a tiny village with a small port. But its role in history is significant.
11. The Bird Mirror of Martigues
Le Miroir aux Oiseaux is an old fishing port of Martigues, which is the end of the Canal St-Sébastien.
With its fishermen’s houses, the church of the Madeleine, and the stone quays, the port will enchant many artists such as Alexandre Dumas or Eugène Delacroix, who will describe and paint the place.
12. The Pointe Courte de Sète
Our selection of the most beautiful ports in France concludes with a special place. Indeed, Pointe Courte is not strictly speaking a port. It is a former fishing district of the city of Sète.
Thus, the neighborhood has its soul, shaped by these same fishermen and perpetuated over time.
It is a real break offered to you, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city center, the large port, and the halls (not to be missed either).