The marine industry in France

What does your industry look like in France? Today: the leisure marine sector

Put simply, France’s leisure marine industry is Europe’s market leader and the second largest in the world. French boat builders have the know-how and the traditional approach required to back up a robust international reputation, allowing them to launch modern and innovative designs and to remain at the forefront of the marine sector.

Three years snap-shot

2018 was the year which finally saw the French marine industry recover from 10 years of global recession. In September last year, after a good summer season, the Fédération des Industries Nautiques cheerfully reported 1% of growth the national market. Nothing to call home about, I hear you say, but following the whooping 23% growth recorded in 2016 and the steady 13% in 2017, it seemed the French marine industry was finally back to its pre-recession state.

Whilst just under 60% of new boats purchased in 2017 were sailing yachts, 2018 saw the trend switch, with a neat preference for power boats last year. Finally, the influx of new boats from the early 2000s which had long been carrying the second-hand market is wearing thin and boat builders were rubbing their hands last September when the Fédération des Industries Nautiques announced that the brokerage market had mostly be stagnating whilst new boat sales were up by 40 %.

The whole marine sector, including stake-holders involved in the production, distribution, accessories and servicing of boats, is currently made out of some 5.000 large businesses employing around 40.000 workers, and circa 60.000 sole-traders and sub-contractors.

The superyachts

La grande plaisance is defined as all boats over 25m in length. Oblivious to trivial considerations such as economic crisis or Trump or Brexit related uncertainty, the superyacht industry is thriving in France, not only in the gorgeous and mostly sunny Côte d’Azur where the owners of luxurious vessels from Monaco and overseas are prepared to sell their soul (or at least to apply for French citizenship) in order to enjoy the glamour of the riviera, but also along the Atlantic coast, famous for hosting world-famous regatta such as the Transat Jacques Vabres or the Vendée-Globe which attract a large audience of rich and passionate, superyacht-based aficionados.  In short, if you are a supplier to the French superyacht industry, you have nothing to fear.

How to target the French boating market?

Get a French presence – Find a marine-minded French translator to work on the main pages of your website, your blog content or your marketing literature.

Work with French dealers – A French branch is perhaps the easiest way to get started, even if it means communicating via a French translator or interpreter or budgeting for the translation of your contractual documents.

Attend French events – The Salon Nautique de Paris normally takes place in December. La Rochelle’s outdoor event, the Grand Pavois, makes the most of the September sunshine, whilst the Monaco Superyacht Show draws all the superyacht builders to its rather large pontoons every September. Find yourself a fluent French speaker or translator before you go!