Fishing in France

Besides being the "mecca for carp anglers", France is known for many more fish species.

France so special for anglers is that within driving distance from the Netherlands, you can catch fish in a pleasant climate. Both carp in freshwater and sea bass along the coast. This means that during one fishing vacation, you could catch many different species, depending on the area you are in.

France is known as a true paradise for carp anglers, with numerous fishing opportunities in various types of waters. From vast inland seas to picturesque narrow rivers and canals. I’d like to give you fishing tips for the popular fish species in France and the must-visit fishing locations.

Since 2005, I’ve been to France several times a year:

  • 2005 – Small canals in Northern France
  • 2011 – Lac du Salagou
  • 2013 – Meuse
  • 2014 – Morvan
  • 2016 – Alpine waters
  • 2017 – Lac du Salagou, Tarn, Canal du Bourgogne
  • 2018 – Jura
  • 2019 – Seine
  • 2019 – Domaine de Bouxier/Livardiere
  • 2023 – Lac les Freaux/Livardiere

My favorite fishing countries (besides the Netherlands) are:

  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • France

Based on these trips, I’ve been able to talk to local anglers and gather information about the fishing world of France.

Fishing in France, everything you want to know

Popular fish species in France

France has a rich fish population, making it a great destination for any fishing enthusiast. Particularly carp fishing is popular in France. You can see this reflected in fishing stores, which are filled with boilies, rigs, and gear for night fishing. Some of the most popular fish species you can catch here are in saltwater:

  • Sea bass
  • Cod
  • Mackerel
  • Whiting
  • Plaice
  • Dab
  • Sole


  • Bream
  • Roach
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Perch
  • Blackbass
  • Zander
  • Carp
  • Catfish

Practical guide for fishing in France

I’ll give you all the information you need for a successful fishing day in France. From licenses and regulations to fishing equipment and supplies.

The fishing techniques and popularity among the local population vary by region, in my opinion, this is the most realistic distribution in popularity.

Of course, here is the text with detailed information per region:

Northern France: Since 2005, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the diverse fishing opportunities in Northern France. In this region, I explored the small canals and waterways, such as the Canal du Nord and Canal Grand Gabarit, where I fished for various fish species, including pike, perch, and zander. Northern France offers a picturesque environment for fishing, and the Seine River is particularly popular among pike anglers. Don’t forget to obtain the necessary permits before fishing in Northern France.

Southern France: In 2011, I headed to Southern France, where I visited Lac du Salagou, a beautiful lake that you MUST visit. Southern France is known for its Mediterranean coastline, allowing you to fish in both freshwater and saltwater. It’s a paradise for sea anglers and offers opportunities to catch species such as sea bream, mullet, and sea bass.

Central France: In 2013, I traveled to Central France, where I had the opportunity to explore the enchanting waters of the Morvan region. Here I found excellent fishing opportunities and discovered the richness of the French fishing world. The lakes and rivers in Central France are ideal for catching trout, perch, zander, and more.

Eastern France: In 2016, I chose to travel to Eastern France and explore the Alpine waters, a region known for its beautiful lakes and rivers, perfect for catching trout, perch, and other species. Alsace and Lorraine in eastern France also offer great fishing opportunities, especially for catching carp, trout, perch, and pike.

Western France: The year 2017 took me to southern and western France, where I visited Lac du Salagou, explored the Tarn River, and eventually fished the Canal du Bourgogne in Northern France. The western region of France, including Brittany and the Loire Valley, offers diverse fishing opportunities, from freshwater lakes and rivers to coastal areas. You can catch a variety of fish species here, including carp, pike, perch, sea bass, and more.

Best fishing spots and locations in France

rance is full of beautiful fishing spots that will surprise you with their experiences. In my opinion, these are the most interesting places to fish in France:

  1. Metz
  2. Perpignan
  3. Alps/Jura
  4. Morvan
  5. Arleux

If you go to France more often, you will naturally discover places that appeal to you more or less. I have also noticed this with various friends and colleagues; depending on your fishing style and enthusiasm, there is a difference in preferred spots.


France is home to numerous excellent fishing spots, offering diverse environments and fish species. Here are some of the best fishing locations in France:

Lac du Salagou (Southern France): Lac du Salagou is a stunning reservoir located in Southern France, offering excellent fishing opportunities for carp, pike, perch, and more. With its picturesque surroundings and diverse fish population, Lac du Salagou is a must-visit destination for any angler.

Morvan (Central France): The Morvan region in Central France is known for its beautiful lakes and rivers, providing ample opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re targeting trout, perch, zander, or carp, Morvan has something for everyone.

Alpine Waters (Eastern France): Eastern France is home to the breathtaking Alpine waters, where you can fish in crystal-clear lakes and rivers surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. This region offers fantastic fishing for trout, perch, and other species, making it a popular destination for anglers.

Seine River (Northern France): The Seine River in Northern France is renowned for its excellent pike fishing. With its picturesque landscapes and abundant fish population, the Seine River offers an unforgettable fishing experience for anglers of all levels.

Canal du Bourgogne (Western France): The Canal du Bourgogne in Western France is a popular destination for coarse fishing, offering plenty of opportunities to catch carp, bream, roach, and more. With its tranquil waters and scenic surroundings, the Canal du Bourgogne is a great place to relax and enjoy a day of fishing.

These are just a few examples of the best fishing spots in France. Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fishing, France has something to offer for every angler.

Carp fishing in France

France is known as one of the top destinations in Europe for carp anglers. With its vast lakes, rivers, and canals, the country offers an abundance of opportunities for carp anglers of all levels. From the French lakes to the tranquil canals and rivers, France has something to offer every carp angler. The carp population in France is healthy and diverse, with specimens often reaching considerable sizes. Whether you choose a fishing holiday by a picturesque lake in the French countryside or by a scenic canal in a charming village, carp fishing in France provides an unforgettable experience for enthusiasts of this magnificent fish species. Just make sure to check the night fishing zones, as you cannot night fish everywhere in France.

Be sure to look for confirmation at the water’s edge; this is often indicated by signs reading “Pêche du Nuit Autorisee”. “Interdit” means “prohibited”, so night fishing is not allowed there.

Trout fishing in France

France is a paradise for trout anglers, with a varied range of fishing locations perfect for catching trout. Whether you prefer fishing in mountain streams, tranquil rivers, or scenic lakes, France has it all. The French rivers, such as the Tarn and the Loire, are known for their healthy trout populations, making them ideal destinations for those who enjoy fishing for this species. Additionally, there are numerous mountain lakes and flowing streams in the French Alps and the Jura where trout is abundant. Trout fishing in France is not only a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the country, but it also offers an opportunity to catch some of the most sought-after trout species. Make sure to obtain the proper permits and follow the rules to have an unforgettable trout fishing experience in France.

Coarse fishing in France

For lovers of coarse fishing, France is a true paradise. The country offers an abundance of fishing locations where you can catch various types of coarse fish, including roach, bream, bleak, and many more. The picturesque lakes and tranquil rivers in France are perfect for coarse fishing. Whether you opt for a relaxing day of fishing by the shore of a lake or prefer the challenge of fishing in a babbling river, France has something for everyone.

The regions of Central France and the Loire Valley are known for their excellent coarse fishing opportunities. The Loire River itself offers anglers the chance to catch roach, bream, and bleak, while the many lakes in the region create an ideal environment for coarse fishing. Brittany also offers numerous fishing locations, especially around the many lakes and canals in this region.

Another popular destination for coarse anglers is the Burgundy region, with its tranquil canals and rivers perfect for fishing for various types of coarse fish. Whether you are an experienced coarse angler or simply looking for relaxation by the water, the coarse fishing opportunities in France will not disappoint you. Don’t forget to obtain the proper permits and be aware of the applicable rules for coarse fishing in the specific region where you intend to fish. Enjoy your coarse fishing adventures in beautiful France!

Predator fishing in France

For lovers of predator fishing, France is a true paradise. The country offers a wide range of fishing locations where you can hunt for various predator species, including pike, zander, catfish, and black bass. Whether you are an experienced predator angler or new to this type of fishing, France has something for everyone.

In Northern France, with waterways such as the Canal du Nord and Canal Grand Gabarit, you can search for pike and zander. These canals are known for their excellent fishing opportunities and provide a great chance to catch these predator fish.

In Southern France, some of the most prestigious fishing locations, such as Lac de Cassien and Lac du Salagou, await avid predator anglers. Here, you can not only enjoy fishing for pike and zander but also catch catfish, one of the largest freshwater fish species in Europe.

Eastern France offers beautiful fishing opportunities in the Alpine waters, Jura, and along the Moselle and Saône rivers. This region is known for its diverse predator species, including pike and perch, and offers a picturesque setting for your fishing adventures.

In Western France, you can take on the challenge of fishing for pike and black bass in areas such as Brittany and around the Seine. The Fort Boyard area also offers great fishing opportunities for predator anglers.

Central France, with its beautiful Loire River and lakes such as Lac de Vassivière, is an ideal destination for catching pike, zander, and black bass.

Whether you choose to fish for a day at one of the well-known fishing locations or prefer to explore less visited areas, predator fishing in France offers adventure and excitement for every angler. Make sure to obtain the proper permits and follow the applicable rules for predator fishing in the specific region where you intend to fish. Enjoy your predator fishing adventures in beautiful France!

Sea fishing in France

For enthusiastic sea anglers, France offers an unparalleled experience. With its extensive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the English Channel, the country is a top destination for sea fishing. Whether you fish from the shore or venture into deeper waters, France has something for everyone.

Along the Atlantic coast, you can search for sea species such as cod, ling, mackerel, and sea bass. The coastal towns, including Bordeaux and Brittany, offer excellent opportunities to enjoy the salty sea air while waiting for the big catch.

On the Mediterranean coast, you can go sea fishing in warmer waters. Here, you can catch species such as sea bream, tuna, and squid. The Mediterranean Sea is known for its diversity of marine life and offers a great opportunity to catch exotic fish species.

For adventurous sea anglers, the English Channel is an excellent destination. It offers challenging conditions and the chance to catch sea species such as cod, whiting, and flatfish.

Sea fishing in France can range from relaxing shore fishing to deep-sea fishing with a boat. There are plenty of fishing charter services available to guide you on your sea fishing adventure.

Make sure to be aware of the applicable rules and permits for sea fishing in the specific region where you intend to fish. With its beautiful coastline and variety of fish species, sea fishing in France is an unforgettable experience for every sea angler. Go out and enjoy the thrill of catching sea fish in this beautiful country!

Fishing license in France

It is important to know the structure of fishing waters in France. There is a difference between departments, validity of the license, but more importantly, a difference between category 1 and category 2 waters.

Category waters are freely fishable with your license regardless of department or fishing area (except for local rules). A category 2 water can only be fished within the department where your fishing license is from. If you change fishing waters outside the department during your fishing trip, you will need a new fishing license for the category 2 waters.

Always check the website of the AAPPMA of your department to see which fishing license is valid for your water. Interesting websites to find this out are:

If you plan to go fishing in France, it is important to be aware of the fishing license requirements. In France, there are various rules and licenses, depending on where and what you want to fish for. Here is an overview of some important points regarding fishing licenses in France:

  1. Freshwater licenses: If you want to fish in freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and canals, you need a fishing license. These licenses may vary from region to region, so it is advisable to check the specific rules for the area where you want to fish. Some regions have licenses for a day, a week, or even a whole year.
  2. Sea fishing: For sea fishing from the coast, you typically do not need a special license. You can simply go to the coast and cast your line. However, make sure to be aware of the applicable fishing limits for certain sea fish species.
  3. Special permits: In some waters in France, such as pay lakes and specific fish reserves, special permits may be required. These permits are intended to manage and protect fish populations.

Rules and restrictions In addition to licenses, there are also rules and restrictions regarding the type of bait you can use, fishing limits, and fishing seasons. Make sure to know these rules before you go fishing to avoid potential fines.

When you purchase a fishing license, you automatically become a member of an Association Agréée pour la Pêche et la Protection du Milieu Aquatique (AAPPMA) and simultaneously pay the Cotisation Pêche et Milieu Aquatique (CPMA).

  • They own and manage the fishing rights they acquire, negotiate, receive, or lease on public or private lands;
  • They help protect the aquatic environment and fish stocks and combat poaching, pollution, and the destruction of areas essential to the life of fish;
  • They carry out actions to improve fish stocks;
  • They promote information and conduct activities to educate the public about aquatic environments.
  • They are united by department, mainly to represent associations, coordinate activities, or provide technical support.
  • They contribute to maintaining social and intergenerational ties by organizing local events, which enable local authorities to better profile themselves within and outside the department.

Available fishing passes are:

The prices of the fishing license vary per department and depend on where and how long you want to fish. You can choose from the following licenses (prices vary between 15 and 100 euros):

  • Carte Journalière
  • Carte Hebdomadaire
  • Carte Personne Majeure
  • Carte Interfédérale Personne Majeure
  • Carte Annuelle Personne Mineure
  • Carte Annuelle Découverte moins de 12 ans
  • Carte Annuelle Découverte Femme
Vissen in Frankrijk BIV Outdoor

3 golden tips for a successful fishing day in France

As an experienced angler in France, I am happy to share some useful fishing tips and techniques that have helped me tremendously and will help you make your fishing day a success.

  1. Talk to the local population and fishing shops; the French are very helpful, especially if you speak their language.
  2. Definitely go carp fishing when in France; this fishing is unique in Europe.
  3. Do not fish for 1 week at 1 spot; explore the water and get to know the surroundings. Success in both fresh and saltwater in France can vary per fishing spot.

The ideal season for fishing in France

France offers great fishing opportunities year-round, but each season has its own highlights. Discover which fish species you can best catch during the different seasons.

Spring (March, April, May)

In spring, nature in France awakens from its winter sleep, and the waters come to life. This is the season when many fish species become active and start feeding. One of the popular fish species you can catch in this season is perch. They are bursting with energy and are often willing to bite on various types of artificial lures and bait.

Additionally, spring is also an excellent time for trout fishing. Trout are active in streams, rivers, and lakes and respond well to various fishing techniques, such as fly fishing, spinning, and float fishing.

Summer (June, July, August)

Summer is the peak season for fishing in France. The warmer weather causes many fish species to become more active and move to shallower waters. Zander is one of the most sought-after fish in the summer months and is often found near underwater structures such as bridges, dams, and rocks.

For lovers of carp fishing, summer is also an excellent time to practice their favorite activity. Carp, one of the most iconic freshwater fish in France, is active in the summer and responds well to various bait types and techniques.

Autumn (September, October, November)

Autumn in France, spanning the months of September, October, and November, is a beautiful time for anglers. The weather begins to cool down, and the nature changes color, making the landscape even more picturesque. This season also offers some specific fishing opportunities in France.

For lovers of carp fishing, autumn is an excellent period. The carp become more active as they prepare for winter, and they are often looking for food. This makes it a favorable time to catch carp, especially in lakes and rivers throughout France.

Pike fishing is also popular in the autumn. Pike are predatory fish that become more active as the water cools down. They can be found in lakes, rivers, and canals, especially near water plants and underwater structures.

For those who love trout fishing, autumn offers an ideal period. Trout often become more active as it gets colder, and they can be caught in rivers and streams in various regions of France.

Winter (December, January, February)

Winter in France, running from December to February, brings colder weather and changes in fishing conditions. While it may not be the most popular season for fishing, there are still opportunities for those willing to brave the cold.

One of the fish species that often become more active in the winter months is zander. These predatory fish can be found in deeper waters, especially near bridges, dams, and other underwater structures. Fishing for zander in winter can be challenging due to the lower water temperatures, but with the right equipment and techniques, anglers can still be successful.

For those who love carp fishing, winter offers a chance to search for winter carp. These carp can be found in deeper lakes and are often less active than in the warmer months. Patience and perseverance are essential when fishing for winter carp.

Fishing in France with the whole family

Even if you want to go fishing with the whole family, France offers great opportunities year-round. Even in winter, there are fun fishing adventures to be had, especially for pike and zander. While these predatory fish may lie a bit deeper during the colder months, they remain active and ready to bite. Make sure to use the right techniques and bait to be successful during the winter season.

France is a top destination in every season for anglers of all ages. Each season offers unique experiences and the opportunity to catch your favorite fish species.

Going on an adventure with the whole family and enjoying France’s beautiful fishing offerings together will surely create unforgettable memories. So, grab your fishing rods, prepare for fun, and experience fantastic fishing moments with your family in beautiful France.

Fishing equipment and supplies for fishing in France

To fully enjoy your fishing adventure in France, it is important to bring the right fishing equipment and supplies. Here is a list of essential items:

For us, two fishing setups are the best for fishing in France. One is the equipment to catch various types of fish, including carp and zander. This medium/light spinning rod can also be used to catch other fish species such as pike and perch.

And as a second setup, a specific carp set could be good; this allows you to focus on carp fishing, one of the popular fish species in France.

Please note that a specific rod choice for a specific fish species is always what we recommend. For specialized advice on this, you can always contact us.

With the right fishing equipment, you are well prepared to enjoy your fishing adventure in France.

Fishing holiday in France

If you really want to enjoy an unforgettable fishing experience in France, why not plan a fishing holiday? Here are some great options for a stay by the water:

Top 5 cottages by the water in France

  1. Holiday home by the Lot
  2. Holiday home, gite, ferienhaus Vezelay
  3. House south of France
  4. Gîte “Au Bord De L’eau”
  5. Les Cottages d’Orient

Top 5 camping spots by the water in France

  1. Camping du Lac de Panthier
  2. Camping La grand Lac
  3. Camping Marvilla Parks – Domaine de la Brèche
  4. Camping Au Bocage Du Lac
  5. Moselle Camping

With this comprehensive guide to fishing in France, you have everything you need to have a great fishing experience in this beautiful country. Whether you want to go carp fishing, trout fishing, white fishing, predator fishing, or sea fishing, France offers an unforgettable time for every angler.

Enjoy your fishing holiday in France and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Do you have tips or personal experiences with fishing in France that you would like to share? Reply to this message and let us know. I would love to learn from your tips and add to the text with new and additional information. Thanks in advance for your efforts and input!
Ivo Nijboer

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