Sailing in the South of France

#LoveProvence Blog

The South of France is an adventurer’s paradise, with Cotignac being very well located. It’s pretty much an hour or two to any kind of activity you’d like to take part in; skiing in the Alps, water sports on the Med, hiking, climbing and canyoning in the Verdon Gorge to name a few. Our next adventure involves a boat, some sails, a nest of ropes and lots of funny words to learn in French and English.

Marcel co-owned a HalCat catamaran in South Africa and has a fair amount of sailing experience, but I’m most definitely a rookie. So before we can help crew a friend’s sporty Melges 20 racing boat, we’ll be finding our sailing feet on a not-so-technical catamaran. Luckily we have a wonderful choice of École de voile (sailing schools) on the coast but also closer by. We were introduced to a fab sailing club at le Lac de Sainte Croix, Centre Nautique Bauduen run by Franck Morel, with the idea of rigging up the sportboat and learning how she sails. Franck’s son Thomas and professional sailing partner, Andrea, helped rig up the boat, along with fellow Cotignacien and sailing enthusiast, Renaud.

Unlike our fair-weather sailing experience in South Africa, folk here go out on catamarans even in January, simply wearing a wetsuit, waterproof jacket and aqua booties. When it’s colder, full sailing gear is a requirement, as Marcel and I learned the hard way whilst filming/photographing the maiden sail of the Melges. We weren’t wearing waterproof gear and it was freezing. Literally! Brrrrr. Luckily our Land Rover’s heater works perfectly! You know you’re a photographer when the shot makes it worth it! The next day we visited Decathlon for appropriate wear.

We also joined Franck in Cannes for the PACA regatta held at Cannes Jeunesse. It’s was a balmy 18 deg C, and seeing young kids running around outdoors, getting proper training and oodles of sailing experience was so exciting. One of Franck’s young crews even got top spot on the podium!

I’m very much looking forward to getting lessons after the regatta season, and in the mean time, Marcel is sailing with Renaud on Wednesday afternoons at Yacht Club Londais. Unable to join them because I’m happily manning the boutique at Mirabeau, I adore seeing the smiles on their faces! That’s what hobbies are all about.

If you’re up for a bit of sailing, feel free to contact one of the clubs here. Or choose your favourite spot along the coast … there’s bound to be a sailing school!

The author: Victoria Koning

Victoria enjoys travel, writing, photography and has oodles of IT experience (technical & software support, web design and online marketing). Born in Cape Town, she worked in Johannesburg, lived in the Netherlands and now calls Cotignac home (see Tours and Tales.com). Inspired by "following a dream" Victoria loves sharing the Mirabeau story and fab wines. Having Dutch as a second language is surprisingly useful.

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