Sailing and Yachting
Novice and experienced sailors alike will find ideal conditions in the Pays de la Loire for sailing adventures. The sailing instruction is of the highest quality, and from La Baule to Les Sables-d’Olonne, the wide bays, creeks, and islands are excellent places to practice your sailing techniques.
Yachting in the Pays de la Loire is superb, as it should be considering it’s the home to some of the most famous names in yacht building (Beneteau, Jeanneau).
Should you wish to anchor your boat, there are many lovely ports that become lively during the summer season. Les Sables-d’Olonne, home of The Vendee Globe race, is a world-class sailing centre and the marina is home to over a thousand vessels.
Best spots for Boardsports
Enthusiasts of surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing will want to visit Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Bretignolles-sur-Mer, Les Sables-d’Olonne, and the southern Vendee. The 7km of coastline at Jard-sur-Mer appeals to boardsports fans and you’ll see windsurfers from all over Europe. Surfing is popular on the Pays de la Loire coast and a stage of the international surfing circuit is held every year at La Sauzaie, Bretignolles-sur-Mer.
Deep sea fishing excursions are offered at both small and large ports such as La Turballe, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, and Les Sables-d’Olonne, giving you a chance to reel in that big one. The harbours also offer guided coastline tours, catamaran rides, and sailing on a tall ship.
More Sea Sports
Your nautical wishes can be fulfilled on our coast, including sea-kayaking near the rocky creeks of Piriac and Pornic, wave skiing at Les Sables-d’Olonne, kitesurfing at La Baule, diving off the Ile d’Yeu, waterskiing at Noirmoutier, or jetskiing at Pornichet.
Home to the rulers of France for centuries, this area was known as the Valley of the Kings and the Loire referred to as the ‘royal river’. The Loire is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides a wealth of leisure activities, from discovering the natural and historic treasures of the area by canoe or kayak, enjoying a dinner or sightseeing cruise, or renting your own boat and floating past the fairytale chateaux at your own pace.
Renting a Boat
Discover the 375 km of navigable waterways in the Pays de la Loire region by hiring your own boat. There is no requirement for a licence to drive these boats; you just have to keep the speed under 6 mph. The boats have all of the comforts: lovely cabins, bathrooms with WC and shower, fitted corner kitchen, and a sundeck to make the most of the sunshine and countryside. You can explore the Mayenne, the Sarthe, the Oudon, the Erdre rivers, and the Nantes-Brest canal. Or, if you prefer the sea, you may wish to hire a boat, with or without a skipper, at one of the ports on the Loire Atlantique and Vendee coasts. Set sail and see the country from a different point of view.
The Vendee Globe Yacht Race
Every four years, the world’s top yachtsmen meet at Les Sables-d’Olonne for the only non-stop round-the-world yacht race without assistance. Single-handedly, the competitors will sail from East to West via three capes, before returning to the port of Sables-d’Olonne four months later.
Travelling by Canoe and Kayak
The Pays de la Loire is a perfect place to travel by canoe and kayak, with plenty of rivers and white-water courses. On the Loire, the Sarthe, the Mayenne, the Don, the Sèvre, and the Loir rivers, and in the Poitevin, Breton, and Vendeen marshes, the canoe is ideal for experiencing the area from the water’s surface. Look for the 14 bases with the ‘Point Canoë Nature’ label to assist you on your travels.