Sail with us to Brittany
Always Superb Value for Money on a Classic Sailing Holiday
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Seafaring and a love of the sea runs deep in the coastal communities of Brittany. In winter the Atlantic pounds the lonely lighthouses but in summer who could fail to feel the magnetism of dazzling blue seas, rugged coastal scenery and tide swept beaches. In August the French seem to live a life of al fresco eating, long summer days collecting seafood from the beach and evenings on waterfronts watching the boats go by…..
The French adore wooden boats with bowsprits so we aim to keep them happy. All the Classic Sailing vessels have working boat origins from pilot cutters to sailing trawlers, privateers, revenue luggers or cargo carrying sailing ships. Sail the best of Britain’s maritime heritage fleet to meet the French each summer.
We do have voyages in Normandy but by far the most of our holiday adventure voyages are exploring the incredibly long Brittany Coast from St Malo all along the Channel coast past L’Aber wrach to Ushant and round the corner to the North Biscay Coast and offshore islands.
This bi annual music festival celebrating wooden boats, and traditional music from around the world is one of our favourites and few of our skippers can resist adding it to their sailing programme. We usually have a variety of voyage options so you can sail there and back from a UK port, or choose a voyage with a bit of summer cruising along the French coast on the way to the festival, or join the colourful melee in Paimpol and sail home.
See our latest photo gallery about Paimpol and sailing the Brittant coast
Whilst you may only experience one cross channel passage by joining or leaving in France - these voyages can be quite tiring as you will be expected to stand watches. The North Brittany coast has strong tides and interesting pilotage. These are sailing expeditions in the sense that there will be some challenging long days sailing and possibly night sailing, so that when we reach a lovely destination we can stay a while and enjoy the land too.
Our Brittany and Normandy holidays are ideal voyages if you want to gain lots of sea miles, pilotage practice or 60 mile qualifying passages towards RYA Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster.
Vessels sailing to Brittany typically include Eve of St Mawes, Agnes, Grayhound, Leader, Provident, Eda Frandsen and Bessie Ellen. Step aboard one of these beautiful traditional vessels to enjoy the delights of the french hospitality, cuisine and sailing waters. Voyages start from the Westcountry or in the Solent involving some great cross channel sailing.
Treburden is a welcoming destination with its large sheltered marina which fits remarkably well into the landscape of granite crags, pine trees and gorgeous beaches. After a long passage it is always nice to swim in the sea, enjoy a refreshing shower and head into town for a glass or two of wine or beer on 'French soil' that doesn't move after all that rock and roll accross the English Channel. If the winds are from more from the South West our first destination may be Guernsey, or we may head for the Granite Rose coast of France, sailing deep up a French River like Lezardrieux, Tregieur or into the tiny harbour of Ploumanach. Both the Channel Islands and Brittany are renowned for their fresh seafood, so no doubt we will be sampling a local restaurant as a reward for our channel crossing. If we sail first to North Brittany we may re visit favourites like the granite archipelago Isles de Brehat, or the National Bird Reserve of Les Sept Isles.
Isle de Brehat is a bit like a French Isles of Scilly. An amazing rock garden with pink sand beaches, low stone farmhouses, hidden sheltered villages and a distinctive local community. To live on Brehat locals and holiday visitors have to plan their days to fit the tides and weather. The landscape changes drastically between high and low water and you will be amazed how we manage to wiggle into some of the deep pool anchorages when the water disappears !
Likewise Paimpol has a huge tidal range and this histoic port once famous for its Newfoundland fishing fleet looks distinctly landlocked when the tide goes out.
Luke Powell has built 8 pilot cutters, but he has also worked in France as an artist, carpenter, boat builder and still speaks passable French. He has spent many years showcasing his boats at festivals but now prefers to seek out the quieter anchorages and small ports that British few yachts visit with his favourite pilot cutter Agnes.
Grayhound is the first three masted lugger built in Britain for 200 years, but the French have two similar sized ships La Cancalaise and the Bisquine de La Grandvillaise. We expect to confuse the 'Old Enemy' on Grayhound's first season in France.
19th century trawlers like Leader went far out to sea for their fishing catch. likewise big fleets of French ships sailed as far as Newfoundland looking for cod....and not all came back. Listen to the shanties at Paimpol Festival to realise the bonds that tie our celtic fishing communities.
At 119ft long and an authentic pedigree as an original cargo sailing ship, Bessie Ellen is enough of a crowd puller that she is often hired to attend French Festivals like Morbihan, Paimpol, Brest and Douarnenez. She frequently has good value voyages to and from festivals with B&B options to stay on board during the event.
With a home base in the Solent the sleek 67ft pilot cutter Annabel J has made Normandy and the Channel Isles her offshore playground. She sails there and back from the Hamble early season and has voyages in late Autumn and Septmber where you can squeeze in a French foray with style in just 5-6 days.
photo: Grayhound showing how a ship visit can be the main attraction in a small port.
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