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RSYC Editor Michael Ford in Cherbourg

Welcome to Port Chantereyne, possibly the handiest marina on the French coast for yachtsmen heading across the Channel from the UK's sailing waters of the Solent.

It is the closest marina in France to Solent waters, and in the centre of the northern coast of the La Manche peninsular at Cherbourg, is a handy kicking off point for intrepid cross Channel sailors to explore all of the Normandy or Brittany coast.

To the east the charming yachting and fishing ports of Barfleur or St Vaast La Hougue, famous for their fresh seafood, or the World War 2 landing beaches are within easy sailing distance, or west there's the attraction of the Channel Islands or St Malo.

Or do as I recommend, simply stay in Cherbourg itself, with excellent facilities at the marina, and a host of intriguing places within the town of around 80,000 population.

Port Chantereyne is already the largest marina on the French Normandy coast with 1,600 moorings, and it's still growing. At least 250 of those moorings are for the exclusive use of visitors.

The Royal Southampton has a special relationship with Port Chantereyne. The club’s Cherbourg Double, a near 100 mile double handed race across the Channel heads there on the late May Bank Holiday, and for cruisers it’s a handy watering hole on the way to St Vaast and Beyond that same weekend.

Through the links with the marina port, Royal Southampton Club members benefit from a 20 percent discount on mooring fees.

The prizegiving for competitiors in the Cherbourg Double handed race is at the Yacht Club.
Recent developments within the port complex have introduced facilities, like showers, washing up facilities and of course, wi-fi, as well as fresh water and electricity supplies on the pontoons.
“We’ve thought of everything to make a stay as enjoyable as possible,” said one member of staff.

The marina itself is a deep water facility which means you can sail in or out at anytime round the clock.

It's also a handy place to leave a boat, say for several weeks or months during the summer, and use it as your French base, simply hopping across the Channel whenever you can by the FastCat catamaran ferry, a three-hour journey between Portsmouth and Cherbourg.

That way you've got plenty of opportunity to savour some of the gastronomy on the Normandy region at leisure. Like me, you'll probably want to keep coming back, if only for that reason.

I've been doing it for more than 40 years, and I never tire of what I find. For a start you can never completely take in the cuisine all in one go. Well, the chef's lunchtime choices at the Yacht Club in the heart of Port Chantereyne when I was there were eye-watering so I will simply have to go back again to try more of the offerings I couldn't manage last time.

But, the town is like that, and I've been saying something like that since my first visit all those years ago.

Bon appetit.