Not all of us have the time to cruise all summer long. The Baie de Seine in northern France offers the ideal cruising ground for two to three weeks

A nice circuit can be made by sailing to France and heading east from Cherbourg following the coast of the Baie de Seine, ending up at the enchanting little port of Honfleur or else Fécamp before crossing back to England.

This is the coast of the D-Day landings and there are excellent museums along the way.

The harbours in the bay are predominantly drying with lock-in basins and best advice is to honour the cardinals as you go, owing to foul ground from the landings.

Travelling along the Baie de Seine eastabout has the merit of giving you a rising tide as you progress.

The Mulberry Harbourbeaches on the Baie de Seine

The Mulberry Harbour from the D-Day landings requires careful navigation. Credit: incamerastock/Alamy Stock Photo

Many of them would be dangerous in strong onshore winds with few diversion options.

St Vaast is a charming little place, with an amphibious ride on the ferry out to the ancient Vauban fort on the Île de Tatihou.

Beware countless flagged pots outside the harbour.

You can anchor at Les Îles Saint Marcouf in fair weather and explore its fortifications and then go down the nearby canal to Carentan, (beware the channel split for Isigny, which dries).

Sandstone and red houses in Honfleur

Honfleur appeals to artists with its chocolate box charm. Credit: travellinglight/Alamy Stock Photo

This takes you into rural France through water meadows and pastoral scenes until you reach the locks of the basin where you find an attractive town.

In fair weather you can anchor inside the caissons of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches.

It is a strange and haunting experience. Avoid the marked obstructions and stick to the charted anchorage for unfouled ground. It is prudent to buoy your anchor here.

Continues below…

Port-en-Bessin is a very busy fishing port, has D-Day museums and a panoramic view from the cliff tops.

Courseulles-sur-Mer has a small and congested marina, Juno beach nearby and a Canadian D-Day Museum.

Bayeux and the famous tapestry are not far away. There are extensive off-lying shoals to cross and submerged breakwaters which dry.

To the west there are oyster beds. Deauville and Trouville are highly fashionable, with a casino and a racecourse.

Honfleur has a wonderful setting and the town is full of artists.

Chart of the Baie de Seine

Credit: Maxine Heath

The Seine runs hard in the Chenal de Rouen and across the entry to the lock.

Once through there is a waiting pontoon for the road bridge into the Vieux Port.

Le Havre, opposite, has a large marina and ferries for crew changes.

Fécamp has a striking approach with high cliffs and a narrow and shallow entrance between breakwaters. Strong tides and winds can sweep a yacht past.

A yacht sailing past a fort

It’s worth a trip out to Vauban Fort near St Vaast. Credit: Arterra Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo

The handsome town is the home of the Benedictine monks and their delicious liqueur.

Grandcamp Maisy has a large covered fish market and nice walk across town to the ‘Angel of Peace’.

There is a bus to Bayeux. From Fécamp your obvious landfalls are either Brighton or Newhaven.

A direct line back to Brighton takes you across the TSS almost exactly at right angles, otherwise honour the Greenwich Light Vessel; for Newhaven you will have to shape your course for a 90-degree crossing.

An aerial view of the Fecamp harbour

Fécamp approach tests with its high cliffs and narrow entrance. Credit: Tuul and Bruno Morandi/Alamy Stock Photo

Ouistreham is rural and quiet, the harbour is surrounded by trees, and there is a large fish market.

St Valery en Caux has lovely walks to the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast.

You could leave for Newhaven from here but Dieppe would give you greater flexibility on timing your departure

For full details on the procedures for sailing to and from France from the UK. Click here

Sailing to Baie de Seine/the Seine Bay

Time taken: 2 weeks

Needles to Chantereyne Marina, Cherbourg – 61M
Cherbourg to St Vaast, outside route – 27M
St Vaast-Les Îles St Marcouf – 7M
Les Îles St Marcouf to Carentan SWM – 4.5M
Carentan Safe Water Mark to Carentan – 8M
Carenten to Port en Bessin – 15.5M
Carentan Safe Water Mark to Arromanches – 20M
Arromanches to Corseulles sur Mer Le Havre to Brighton – 78M
Fécamp to Brighton – 65M
Fécamp to Newhaven – 62M

Trains: from Morlaix

Ferries: Cherbourg from Poole and Portsmouth, Caen and Le Havre to Portsmouth, Dieppe to Newhaven

Airports: Caen, Deauville, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Rouen

Hazards in Baie de Seine

No ports of refuge with 24-hour access between Cherbourg and Le Havre.

Strong onshore winds can make them untenable.

Off-lying shoals and oyster beds.

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