I am frequently asked questions regarding the regulations for paddling on the sea in France. Unfortunately it is not always clear, often completely unknown, and occasionally when known completely ignored.
I have created a page “Paddling French Waters ” that lays out in simple terms how you can comply with the French regulations, and concentrate on paddling without concern that you may be doing something wrong. A couple of sample declarations are available at the end of the text, use them/ modify them as suits your personal circumstances.
Most visitors will find the information given sufficient, however, if you paddle something other than a typically modern, professionally constructed sea kayak then other restrictions come into force. At a future time I’ll add to this document to include information relative to home built Ceder Strip/ Skin on Frame kayaks.
In the meantime please read the disclaimer, interpretation of the law is not always the same from one Region to another, indeed I have been refused registration of my boat in St Nazaire because of incorrect paperwork but later approved for Registration at Vannes using exactly the same papers.
As a foreign visitor in France you should always carry identification, (Passport or National ID card) it is a requirement for the French also, and the requirement is the same whilst on the water ! ( I carry a photocopy of my passport )
I will of course be interested in your experiences, particularly when stopped by Gendarmes Maritimes. If you discover any discrepancies with the text please let me know, it will help make paddling in France easier for all.
Finally, regulated quite separately from these Registration rules is the ban on Night paddling. This ban is not aimed solely at kayakers, but at ALL craft propelled by human power (it also includes Jet Skis in the definition)