Often unfairly seen as nothing more than a path to the warmer climes of the Mediterranean, the inshore waters of the Bay of Biscay actually have a lot to offer for curious seafarers.
There are many great places to stop along this route, but here we’ll check out some key anchorages and marinas along the western French and Northern Spanish coasts.
At the north of the Bay of Biscay you’ll find the commune of Concarneau, which is well worth a visit for its medieval walled citadel, with delightful narrow streets to explore. There are also several museums celebrating the heritage of the area, including the Musée de la pêche (fishing museum)
Find out more on the tourist information site here.
There’s also a well equipped marina, which you can get more information on here.
At the north end of the Bay south of the Brittany town of Vannes you’ll find the Gulf of Morbihan. Several charming islands and archipelagos sit within the gulf, of which Île-d’Arz features a popular anchorage.
This quaint and peaceful little isle is the ideal spot to recharge after several days at sea, with beautiful beaches and a small community complete with guest house and several eateries.
There is an anchorage on the east side and to the north near to the guest house.
3. La Rochelle.
France’s gateway to the Atlantic, La Rochelle is a beautiful historic city with a fascinating old port punctuated by the historic Chaine and Saint-Nicholas towers, and a charming old town with over 400 restaurants to choose from.
The city boasts one of the largest, if not the largest marinas in Europe, with berths for over 1200 vessels, making it the ideal halfway point on your journey across the Bay of Biscay.
Check out the website here for more information.
Once berthed, if you fancy sleeping ashore for a night or two, La Rochelle isn’t short of places to stay:
Located right in the corner of the bay (usually an overlooked area) this charming little fishing village is certainly well worth a day of your time. If nothing else, you should visit one of the many restaurants for the seafood, which is as fresh as it comes!
There is a pontoon available for visitors to moor up, further information on the port can be found here.
Most famous for its Guggenheim contemporary art museum, Bilbao also boasts many other museums, striking contemporary architecture, vibrant nightlife, sandy beaches and even a great hiking spot in the form of Artxanda hill.
In exchange for this varied cultural offering, Bilbao does have one of the more expensive marinas in the bay of Biscay region (Puerto Deportivo El Abra Getxo), where you can expect to pay upwards of 50 Euros per night to berth.
An hour along the coast west of Bilbao, Santander is an equally impressive city that boasts the stunning Magdelena Palace, once a residence of the Spanish royal family. Other highlights include the sprawling golden sands of El Sardinero and the reclaimed natural landscape of Cabarceno Natural Park, traversable by cable car, this park is home to all manner of impressive wildlife from white rhinos to European bison.
The website for the marina can be found here.
Located within a spectacular inlet towards the western extent of the bay, the shallow waters of Ortigueira are inaccessible to large ships, but a real treat for those visiting by boat. The beaches are immaculate and the views are sublime.
Best of all, at the time of writing berthing in the marina is free of charge.