Fishing in France: Rules, Types of fishing, Tips & Tricks


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Fishing in France is not just a sport or a pastime; it’s an age-old tradition that weaves its way through the tapestry of French culture. From the high-altitude lakes of the Alps, teeming with trout, to the vast expanses of the Atlantic and its rich bounty, France beckons anglers from all corners of the world.

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But what makes fishing in France truly special isn’t just the variety of fish or the scenic spots. It’s the adventure that awaits at every turn—the promise of new stories, the thrill of the chase, and the age-old dance between human and nature. As the line casts and the wait begins, you’ll find that fishing here is more than just about the catch; it’s about immersing oneself in a world of wonder and discovery.

So, tighten your reels and ready your bait as you go through this detailed guide to fishing in France.


  • France offers a diverse array of fishing opportunities, from freshwater streams to the vast ocean.
  • Knowing and adhering to French fishing regulations ensures a legal and respectful angling experience.
  • Proper gear enhances the fishing experience while ensuring safety and efficiency.
  • France boasts numerous renowned fishing spots, each with its own unique charm and challenges.
  • French fishing etiquette intertwines respect for nature, fish, and fellow anglers.

Dive into the Waters: Different Fishing Opportunities

As you stand at the threshold of these aquatic wonders, you’ll be greeted with choices, each as tempting as the next. Let’s plunge into the depths and explore what lies beneath.

Freshwater Fishing: Rivers, Lakes, and Ponds

The heart of France is crisscrossed by a mesh of freshwater sources. The majestic rivers like the Dordogne, the Lot, and the iconic Seine are more than just picturesque—they are thriving ecosystems where species like pike, zander, and the famed French carp dwell. Every cast here feels like a surprise, for you never truly know what treasure you might reel in.

Then, there are the serene lakes and ponds, nestled amidst rolling hills and sprawling forests. They are the stuff of angler dreams, where time seems to pause and where the mirror-like waters are home to perch, roach, and tench. If tranquility had a middle name, it would undoubtedly be freshwater fishing in France.

Saltwater Fishing: The French Coastline and Deep-Sea Experiences

From the rugged coastlines of Brittany to the sun-kissed beaches of the Riviera, France’s shoreline offers an expansive playground for saltwater enthusiasts. The salty air, the roaring waves, and the vastness of the horizon set the stage for an entirely different fishing escapade. Sea bass, mackerel, and even the mighty tuna are but a few of the species that lurk beneath the crashing waves, ready to test your skills and determination.

For those craving an even deeper connection with the ocean, France’s deep-sea fishing charters are your gateway to the mysteries of the deep. Venturing far from the shore, in the company of seasoned skippers, you’ll be in with a chance to wrestle with the monsters of the deep, such as sharks and giant rays.

The Excitement of Fly Fishing in Mountain Streams

High in the French mountains, where the air is crisp, and the waters are crystal clear, fly fishing enthusiasts will find their paradise. It’s a game of patience and finesse, trying to outwit trout with just a flick of the wrist and a hand-tied fly. Every stream and every ripple presents a challenge, a riddle waiting to be solved. It’s not just fishing; it’s an art, a dance between the angler and the aquatic world.

Regulations and Necessities: What Every Angler Must Know

Before you cast your line into the blue yonder, let’s acquaint ourselves with the rules of the game, ensuring that our fishing tales are not only thrilling but also responsible.

Licensing: When and Where to Get a Fishing License

In France, as with many global destinations, a fishing license, commonly known as a “carte de pêche,” is a must-have for anglers. These licenses serve a dual purpose: they grant you the rights to fish and play a pivotal role in conserving and maintaining the aquatic environments.

Daily or Temporary Licenses: Perfect for the occasional angler or a visitor, these licenses give you the flexibility to fish for a specific duration without committing to a longer period.

Annual Licenses: For those who find themselves continually drawn to France’s waters, the annual license offers unlimited access throughout the year.

Acquiring a license is a straightforward affair. Local fishing associations, known as “AAPPMA,” dot the country, and they are your go-to spots for licensing. Additionally, in this digital age, licenses can be conveniently purchased online, ensuring that you’re ready to fish whenever the urge strikes.

Fishing Seasons and Periods: The Best Times for Various Species

Nature has its rhythm, a time for growth, a period of rest. To respect this cycle, France has specific fishing seasons that every angler must be aware of:

  • Trout: The season typically begins in March and extends until September, offering ample time for anglers to try their luck.
  • Carp (night fishing): The warm months, usually from June to January, are ideal for those nocturnal carp adventures.
  • Saltwater Species: While many saltwater fish can be caught year-round, certain regulations limit specific species’ fishing at particular times to ensure sustainable populations.

Restricted Zones and Catch Limits: Preserving Nature’s Bounty

It’s a privilege to fish in France’s bountiful waters, and with that privilege comes the duty to ensure that future generations can share the same joy.

Protected Zones: Areas like breeding grounds or sensitive habitats might be off-limits for fishing. Always check local regulations before setting up.

Catch and Release: Some regions and species require a catch and release approach, ensuring the fish’s survival and contributing to a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Size and Bag Limits: For many species, there’s a minimum size requirement to keep the fish, ensuring young fish get a chance to mature and reproduce.

Tackling the Essentials: Gear Up for the Catch

Let’s dive into the toolbox of an angler and uncover the essentials that promise to enhance your French fishing escapade.

Basics of a Fishing Kit: Rods, Reels, and Baits

To the uninitiated, the array of fishing gear might seem overwhelming, but at its core, the basic toolkit remains consistent.

  • Rods: Depending on the type of fishing, the rods vary in length, material, and flexibility. From the lightweight fly fishing rods that respond to the faintest of tugs to the sturdy saltwater rods built to battle the titans of the deep, choose according to your adventure.
  • Reels: The counterpart to the rod, reels come in spinning, baitcasting, and fly fishing variants. Their primary job? To smoothly let out or retrieve the line, ensuring you remain in control of the fight.
  • Baits and Lures: A realm of endless variety, baits can be live like worms and insects or artificial lures mimicking the look and movement of prey. While live baits are classic crowd-pleasers for fish, lures allow for creativity and experimentation.

Specialty Equipment for Specific Types of Fishing

Sometimes, the usual suspects won’t do, and you’ll need specialized gear.

Fly Fishing: This art form demands specific lightweight rods, reels, and intricately crafted flies. The gear is designed to imitate the darting insects upon which freshwater fish like trout feed.

Deep Sea Fishing: When battling the behemoths of the ocean, specialized sturdy rods, high-capacity reels, and strong lines are the order of the day.

Night Fishing for Carp: Luminous floats, bite alarms, and bivvies (small tents) are part of the nocturnal angler’s repertoire, ensuring they don’t miss a nibble in the dark.

Where to Purchase or Rent Equipment Locally

While many seasoned anglers prefer to travel with their trusted gear, France’s welcoming fishing community ensures that visitors aren’t left in a lurch.

Local Tackle Shops: Scattered across towns and even in some villages, these are treasure troves of equipment and, often, local knowledge. The shopkeepers, usually anglers themselves, are fonts of wisdom on what works best in their region.

Fishing Resorts and Lodges: Many establishments, especially those in popular fishing destinations, offer rental gear tailored to the local aquatic environment. It’s a fuss-free option for those looking to travel light.

Guide to Fishing in France: Discover the Popular Spots

guide to fishing in france

Join us as we embark on a journey through France’s most iconic fishing destinations, where the waters whisper tales of old and the fish play a game as ancient as time itself.

The Majestic Loire Valley

Often called the ‘Garden of France’, the Loire Valley, with its sprawling vineyards and grand chateaux, is also a haven for anglers. Its network of serene rivers and lakes, teeming with pike, zander, and perch, makes every fishing session here feel like a royal rendezvous. As you cast your line amidst the backdrop of historic castles, it’s easy to feel the weight of centuries of history and the timelessness of nature’s bounty.

The Rugged Beauty of Brittany’s Coastline

Where the waves crash with fervor and the air tastes of salt, Brittany’s rugged coastline stands as a sentinel to France’s maritime legacy. The tidal waters here offer the promise of sea bass, mackerel, and even the occasional ray. Each cast here is a dance with the wild, untamed spirit of the Atlantic.

The Alpine Lakes of Savoie

High amidst the snowy peaks, where the air is a pure, heady mix and the waters are crystal clear, the Alpine lakes of Savoie are an angler’s dream. These high-altitude havens are home to brown and rainbow trout. Fishing here, against the backdrop of towering mountains and alpine meadows, feels less like a sport and more like a pilgrimage to nature’s temple.

The Mysterious Camargue in Provence

A land of salt flats, wild horses, and pink flamingos, the Camargue in Provence is where the Rhône River meets the Mediterranean Sea. This unique delta ecosystem boasts brackish lagoons that are a hotbed for sea bass, mullet, and eels. As you fish in these mystical waters, the spirit of the wild Camargue envelops you, making every moment an adventure.

The Verdant Dordogne River

Winding its way through the heart of France, the Dordogne River is an emblem of the country’s lush beauty. Its waters, shadowed by ancient cliffs and forests, are home to an impressive array of fish including carp, pike, and roach. Setting up along its banks, with the French countryside unfolding around, is an experience in serenity and anticipation.

Cultural Insight: The French Fishing Etiquette

Fishing, like many activities in this culturally rich nation, is steeped in unwritten rules, subtle nuances, and a deep sense of respect for both nature and fellow anglers. Understanding this etiquette isn’t merely a courtesy; it’s an immersion into the soul of French fishing culture. Let’s journey together into the heart of these traditions and decipher the silent codes that govern the French fishing realm.

Respect for the Environment: Nature First

The French have a profound connection with their landscapes, and this bond extends seamlessly into their fishing practices.

Leave No Trace: Whether it’s a remote mountain stream or a bustling coastal spot, the philosophy remains the same: take only memories, leave only footprints. Any litter, especially fishing lines or hooks, must be responsibly disposed of.

Tread Lightly: Disturbing the natural habitat, be it by trampling riverside vegetation or disrupting nesting birds, is frowned upon. The French approach is one of coexistence with nature, not domination over it.

A Nod to Fellow Anglers: Brotherhood of the Rod

Fishing in France is as much a social activity as it is a solitary pursuit. Recognizing and respecting fellow anglers’ space and experience is paramount.

Maintain Distance: If you spot another angler already casting their line in a serene spot, it’s considered polite to maintain a respectful distance. This ensures that both of you have a fair chance at the catch and can enjoy the tranquility of the environment.

Share Knowledge, Not Spots: While many French anglers are happy to share tips, bait preferences, or local fish behaviors, it’s essential to understand that some prized fishing spots are cherished secrets. It’s the angler’s prerogative whether they wish to share such intimate knowledge.

Celebrating the Catch, and Sometimes, Letting Go

While the thrill of the catch is universally celebrated, the French also have a profound respect for the fish and the ecosystem.

Mindful Harvesting: Taking only what one can consume and releasing undersized or spawning fish is a practice deeply ingrained in the ethos of many French anglers.

The Art of Release: If practicing catch and release, it’s done with care, ensuring minimal harm to the fish, often using barbless hooks and wet hands to handle the catch.

Local Delicacies: Turning Your Catch into a Culinary Delight

Every corner of this glorious country promises a gastronomic adventure, a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate. And what could be more exhilarating than transforming your fresh catch into a dish that celebrates the very essence of French cuisine? Come, let’s journey together into the kitchens of France, where the catch meets culinary magic, and every bite tells a tale of the waters and the wonders they hold.

Trout à la Meunière: The Alpine Elegance

Freshwater trout from the pristine alpine lakes deserve a dish that’s as pure and elegant as their habitat.


  • Fresh trout, cleaned and gutted
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Butter
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly dust the trout in flour. In a hot skillet, melt the butter until it turns a golden brown, then lay the trout in, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is crispy, then flip. Season with salt and pepper. Once done, drizzle with fresh lemon juice, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately. A dance of textures and flavors, this dish is the Alps on a plate.

Bouillabaisse: The Melody of the Mediterranean

Originally from the port city of Marseille, this rich stew sings of the sea, combining various fish and shellfish in a broth that’s both robust and aromatic.


  • A mix of rockfish, sea bass, and any other fresh catch
  • Tomatoes, onions, and leeks
  • White wine
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic, saffron, and a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs)
  • Orange zest and Pernod (anise-flavored liqueur)

In a large pot, sauté the onions, leeks, and tomatoes in olive oil. Add the fish and shellfish, followed by white wine, Pernod, and enough water to cover. Toss in the garlic, saffron, bouquet garni, and orange zest. Let it simmer until the fish is cooked through, absorbing all the flavors. Served with rouille, a garlicky mayonnaise, and crusty bread, this dish is a serenade to the soul of the Mediterranean.

Pike Quenelles with Nantua Sauce: The River’s Richness

Pike, a prized catch from France’s rivers, finds its match in this luxurious dish, where the delicate flavor of the fish is elevated by a creamy crayfish sauce.


  • Pike fillets, finely ground
  • Butter, flour, and milk for the roux
  • Eggs
  • Crayfish tails and shells
  • Cream and Cognac

Create a light roux using butter, flour, and milk, then mix in the ground pike and eggs to form a smooth paste. Shape them into quenelles (oval dumplings) and poach gently. For the sauce, simmer crayfish tails and shells in butter, then flame with Cognac. Add cream, let it thicken, and strain. Pour the luscious sauce over the quenelles and savor the rich embrace of river and refinement.

Safety First: Tips for a Secure Fishing Experience

With the spirit of adventure coursing through our veins, let’s embark on the essential journey of ensuring every fishing story has a happy ending.

Know Your Waters

The water bodies of France are as diverse as they are captivating. From the roaring Atlantic waves to the placid lakes of Savoie, each has its own rhythm and challenges.

Research Ahead: Familiarize yourself with the specific conditions of the fishing spot you intend to visit. Are there known currents? Is the water prone to sudden changes in tide or level?

Local Wisdom: Engage with local anglers or fishing shops. Their knowledge, amassed over years of experience, can provide invaluable insights into the quirks and temperaments of the waters.

Dress for Success… and Safety

Fishing isn’t just about the catch; it’s a dance with nature, and every dancer must be aptly attired.

Weather Watch: Keep a keen eye on the weather forecast. France’s climate can be as varied as its landscapes. Dress in layers to adjust to changing conditions.

Slip-Proof Footwear: The banks of rivers, lakes, or the coast can be slippery. Ensure your shoes provide good grip and, if fishing in colder waters, that they offer adequate insulation.

Gear Up with Care

Your fishing gear, while essential for the catch, can also be a source of potential hazards if not handled with care.

Regular Inspection: Before setting out, inspect your equipment. Check for any signs of wear or damage, especially in your fishing line, hooks, and rods.

Hook Caution: Always be aware of where your hook is. When casting, ensure no one is behind or around you. When not in use, secure hooks to avoid accidental injuries.

Stay Connected

The tranquil solitude of fishing is a treasured experience, but it’s essential to ensure you’re not completely cut off.

Inform Someone: Always let someone know where you’re going and the expected duration of your fishing expedition.

Keep Devices Charged: Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged. Consider carrying a portable charger, especially if you’re venturing into more remote areas.

Embrace the Buddy System

There’s truth in the age-old adage: There’s safety in numbers.

Fish with a Friend: Not only does it double the fun, but having someone with you also ensures there’s someone to assist or raise an alarm in case of unexpected situations.

Group Adventures: Especially for beginners or those trying out a new type of fishing, consider joining a local group or guided fishing trip.

ABOUT Amelie

Amélie, our devoted Relocation Expert at Born and raised in Lyon, Amélie possesses a profound grasp of French culture, traditions, and way of life, which she leverages to offer you unparalleled relocation guidance

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