10 BEST PLACES FOR FLY FISHING IN FRANCE

France, located in Western Europe, covers a diverse geography ranging from the majestic Alps and Pyrenees to the vast plains of the Champagne region. This varied geography and the presence of large mountain ranges make it a privileged destination for fans of wild and native trout fishing. If you are looking for information on Fly Fishing in France, these 10 places will interest you:

 

 

 

1- HAUTES ALPES DEPARTMENT

The Hautes Alpes, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France, are renowned for their breathtaking mountainous landscapes and national parks such as Ecrins and Queyras. Its capital, Gap, not only possesses a prominent historical and cultural heritage but also serves as the perfect focal point for a fishing vacation in the region.

In this department, you can pursue brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, Arctic char, and grayling. The diversity of watercourses in the Hautes Alpes, encompassing 1700 km of first-category waters, 300 km of second-category waters, 3200 hectares of lakes and reservoirs, and 48 high-altitude lakes, allows for diverse fishing experiences. Standout fishing areas include the Clarée Valley, near Briançon and Montgenèvre, a natural site classified for its exceptional landscapes and preserved heritage. The 32 km-long Clarée River offers abundant fly fishing opportunities, including two “No Kill” stretches. Other notable rivers include the Guisane, with its robust flow suitable for various techniques, the Guil, ideal for fly fishing, and the Durance, the department’s main river with a length of 324 km and “NO KILL” sections in Briançon. The Cerveyrette, a 23 km mountain torrent, is conducive to dry fly fishing in the summer.

  • Season: The fly fishing season in the Hautes-Alpes typically spans from the third week of March until the end of September, with the prime months being from June to September.
  • Fishing license: Fishing in the public rivers of the Hautes-Alpes requires a fishing license, which grants access to regulated fishing areas. To obtain the fishing license for the Hautes-Alpes, you can conveniently make a purchase through the website of the Fédération de pêche des Hautes-Alpes or via the website of the carte de pêche.
  • Best rivers: The waters housing trout in the Hautes-Alpes are classified as first-class waters, divided into mountain lakes and rivers – streams.                                             
  • Fishing in mountain lakes of the Hautes-Alpes: The Hautes-Alpes department presents an incredible opportunity for mountain and hiking anglers, boasting around fifty lakes that are perfect for fishing. Situated between 1800 m and 2800 m above sea level, these lakes are classified under the 1st fish category, ensuring an exceptional fishing experience. These high-altitude lakes are scattered across various geographical areas within the department, including Champsaur, Valgaudemar, Embrumais, Queyras, Vallouise, Freissinnière, Roche de Rame, Ecrins, and Briançonnais. Among the must-visit lakes, we highly recommend Grand Laus, Mézan, and Petit Laus.   
  • Fly fishing rivers in the Hautes-Alps: The rivers of the Hautes-Alpes, such as Champsaur, Queyras, Durance, Guil, and Buëch, offer excellent opportunities for fly fishing, making it one of the premier destinations for this activity in France. In these glacial meltwater rivers and springs of pristine and untamed waters, the wild Zebra trout thrives, providing a unique and captivating fishing experience. The Durance, one of Provence’s most significant rivers, is home to wild brown trout of medium to large sizes. On the other hand, the Guil boasts impressive trout and char, with its distinctive environment characterized by strong currents and rocky gorges. As for the Buëch, surrounded by pine trees and lavender fields, it is particularly ideal for early-season fly fishing, providing anglers with an unforgettable experience amidst breathtaking natural beauty.
  • Species: Brown trout, zebra trout, rainbow trout, and char.
  • Size of trout: Generally, the trout in these mountain rivers tend to be of small and medium sizes. Due to the alpine nature of the rivers, larger trout are not commonly found. However, there are exceptions, and certain medium-sized rivers and lakes offer opportunities to catch larger trout.
  • Type of fishing: During the best months of the season, anglers can enjoy daily fishing with dry flies, providing an exciting experience. Additionally, nymph fishing remains highly effective throughout the year.
  • Contact with the fishing federation: We highly recommend visiting the website https://peche-hautes-alpes.com/. On this page, you will discover essential information such as fishing regulations, fishing areas, fishing courses, season opening and closing dates, and even webcams showcasing the rivers for an enhanced fishing experience.

 

 

2- ALPES-MARITIMES DEPARTMENT

Alpes-Maritimes is a French department located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the southeast of France. Renowned for its spectacular mountainous landscape and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, it offers a unique blend of Alpine charm and Mediterranean climate. The region is home to cities such as Nice and Cannes, famous for their beauty, beaches, and cultural events.

The four most famous rivers for fly fishing in this department are:

    • La Siagne river: La Siagne, a coastal river in France, partially marks the border between the Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments. Classified as a first-category river up to the Tanneron bridge, this karstic river is exceptional for trout fishing, featuring rapids and deep pools along its course. The high Siagne Gorges offer a wild landscape, while the Siagne bridge area is accessible and has an interdepartmental fishing route.

    • Le Loup river: The Loup River spans 35 km in the first category, with an excellent population of wild brown trout in its upper part. Originating from karstic springs in the Audibergue massif, it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Various fishing techniques are practiced, including nymph fishing at the beginning of the season and fly fishing as temperatures drop. In the upper Loup, you’ll find populations of brown trout and southern barbel, while downstream, common trout, chubs, and other cyprinid species are added. Key access points include Pont de Cipière and Gorges du Loup.

    • Le Var river: The Var River in Alpes-Maritimes, spanning 114 km from Estenc to the Mediterranean, is classified as the first category up to Carros. It offers diverse fishing, from trout to chub. The Daluis Gorges are notable, and the “moyen Var” is suitable for fishing in rapids and deep pools. The lower stretch has various species, but fishing is prohibited in a birdwatching area. Managed by several associations, the river hosts brown trout and southern barbel.

    • La Gordolasque river: The Gordolasque, the main tributary of the Vésubie, is an exceptionally beautiful river in Alpes-Maritimes known for being an excellent setting for dry fly fishing and its fish density. Following the storm Alex in 2020, fishing remained closed until 2023, especially in the Gordolasque. The upper area presents an Alpine landscape, while the lower, separated by the Ray waterfall, offers waterfalls and varied fishing. Managed by the AAPPMA “La Gordolasque,” this river is home to brown trout and some brook trout in its tributaries.

It’s also important to note that in this department, there are excellent mountain lakes for fly fishing, located above 1,800 meters in altitude. Among all the lakes, those in Vésubie or Tinée in the Mercantour stand out.

 

 

 

 

3- GUADELOUPE DEPARTMENT

Guadeloupe, an overseas French department in the Caribbean archipelago, stands out for its extensive protected spaces and marine nature reserves. Comprising two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, along with several smaller islands, Guadeloupe boasts white sandy beaches, tropical rainforests, and coral reefs, providing a unique blend of natural and cultural diversity.

In this country with a rich Creole culture, it is a paradise for saltwater fishing enthusiasts, offering the opportunity to catch a wide variety of predatory fish such as barracudas, jacks, snappers, tarpons, snooks, mackerels, tunas, and sharks. For those not inclined towards fishing, Guadeloupe provides a wide range of sports and cultural activities.

For fly fishing enthusiasts, it is a haven with shallow mangrove waters and numerous flats. Here, anglers can pursue mythical species like Bonefish, snook, tarpon, and permit, presenting the chance to achieve the coveted Grand Slam. This destination has nothing to envy from other well-known locations such as Mexico, the Bahamas, or Cuba.

 

 

4- VOSGES DEPARTMENT

The Vosges is a French department located in the northeastern part of the country. It takes its name from the Vosges mountain range, which serves as a natural border between the Alsace and Lorraine regions.

Between the Rhine basin and the Vosges mountain range lies the Alsace region, whose foothills are a paradise for fly fishing, especially for trout and grayling. The region offers diverse fishing opportunities, whether with dry flies, nymphs, streamers, or wet flies. Dry fly fishing is possible almost throughout the season, from March to October, thanks to regular insect hatches. The best fishing opportunities include fly fishing for trout in the Fecht, Vologne, or Bruche rivers from March to September, and grayling fishing in the Bruche, Moselle, and Moselotte rivers from June to November.

 

 

5- SAVOY DEPARTMENT

The Savoy department, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is in southeastern France, sharing its borders with Italy. Renowned for its breathtaking Alpine landscapes featuring majestic peaks and crystal-clear lakes such as Lake Bourget, Savoy is home to famous ski resorts and mountain villages like Chambery.

Season: The fishing season typically commences on March 11 and concludes on October 8. The prime fishing months are from mid-March to early June, late July to early September, mid-October, and late October.

Fishing license: To partake in recreational fishing in the open waters of France, it is necessary to join a fishing association (AAPPMA) and obtain a fishing license from them. One-day licenses are priced at €15, one-week licenses at €34, and year-round licenses at €95. These licenses can be purchased on the website savoiepeche.com.

Species: In this Alpine department, you can fish for brown trout, brook trout, grayling, and rainbow trout.

The top 5 fly fishing rivers:

River Guiers in St. Béron:

    • Management: AAPPMA de Pont-de-Beauvoisin / La Bridoire – Guiers / Tier.

    • Features: First-category stretch with fast-flowing areas and pools. Wooded banks and unpredictable results.

    • Species: Brown trout, common grayling, rainbow trout, chub, and barbel.

    • Tips: Recommended for experienced anglers. Use of flies, especially in late August. Pay attention to spring flow due to thawing.

River Arly in Flumet:

    • Management: AAPPMA de Flumet – Val d’Arly.

    • Features: First-category stretch, “catch and release.” Suitable for experienced anglers with rapids, pools, and plains.

    • Species: Brown and rainbow trout.

    • Tips: Practicable with various techniques. The river reveals its maximum potential after thaw, typically from July onward.

Doron de Chavière:

    • Management: AAPPMA de Pralognan La Vanoise.

    • Features: First-category course on a plateau at 1,725 meters. “Catch and release” with brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout.

Doron de Bozel sous Brides-les-Bains:

    • Management: AAPPMA de Moutiers – La Gaule Tarine.

    • Features: First-category stretch, rugged and wild. Presence of brown and rainbow trout.

    • Tips: Requires constant adaptability. Flow is affected by spring thaw.

Parcours Pêche de Savoie “Prendre et Relâcher” in l’Arc à Sollières-Sardières:

    • Management: Fédération de Savoie pour la Pêche et la Protection des Milieux Aquatiques and the Société de pêche privée de Termignon.

    • Features: 2.5 km catch-and-release stretch in Haute Maurienne.

    • Species: Brown trout, common ombre, and rainbow trout.

    • Tips: Accessible for beginners. Regulation prohibits natural baits. Use of nymphs and artificial larvae recommended. Best time: late August until closure, with considerations for flow in spring and early summer.

Species: Brown trout, zebra trout, rainbow trout, and grayling.

Size of trout: In the Savoie region, there is a great variety of rivers and abundant possibilities for fishing. In the medium-sized rivers, it is common to catch medium and large trout.

Contact with the fishing federation: We recommend visiting the website www.savoiepeche.com/. On this page, you will find essential information, including fishing regulations, fishing zones, fishing courses, season opening and closing dates, and even webcams showcasing the rivers for an enhanced fishing experience.

 

6- ARDECHE DEPARTMENT

Located between Marseille and Lyon, the Ardèche department is situated in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. This department is renowned for its stunning landscapes, including the Ardèche Gorges and the Regional Natural Park of Monts d’Ardèche. Home to charming medieval villages like Balazuc and Vogüé, as well as cave art sites such as the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, the region offers a unique blend of history, nature, and fly fishing.

This area is highly mountainous and features numerous rivers, as it is located in the Massif Central. The French Massif Central is an extensive mountain range in the center of France, characterized by mountainous landscapes, plateaus, and valleys. The rivers of the Massif Central flow into the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the queen of its rivers is the Mediterranean striped trout, also known as zebra trout.

The best places for fly fishing in this department are the catch-and-release stretches of rivers, including L’Ardeche Amont, L’Ay, La Beaume, La Haute Canc, La Cance et la Deume, La Dorne, Le Doux, La dobre, and more. If you are interested in exploring all the “no-kill” stretches in the department, I recommend checking the following link: https://www.peche-ardeche.com/parcours-de-peche-sans-tuer.html

 

 

7- HAUTE-SAVOIE DEPARTMENT

Haute-Savoie, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France, presents exceptional fly fishing opportunities, making it an idyllic destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the French Alps while indulging in a unique fishing experience.

Season: The fly fishing season in Haute-Savoie extends from the end of March to the beginning of October. The prime months for fly fishing are March, April, and from mid-June to the end of September.

Fishing license: To fish in Haute-Savoie, acquiring a suitable fishing license is essential. You can opt for either an annual or tourist card available through various fishing associations in the region. The license, known as “Carte de Pêche” in France, can conveniently be purchased on the website http://www.cartedepeche.fr.

Best rivers: While the rivers in Haute-Savoie are public, access to some areas may be private. The most sought-after rivers in Haute-Savoie are the ones teeming with trout, earning them the prestigious label of “first class” waters. Among these top-tier rivers, the finest ones include:

 

  • The Fier, a renowned river in Haute-Savoie, stretches 71 km long, originating from Mont Charvin and coursing through awe-inspiring valleys and gorges. It is primarily fed by rainwater and snowmelt in Thônes, Annecy, and Rumilly. The Thônes sector stands out as an enticing location for brown and rainbow trout fishing, boasting abundant fish density within accessible rapids and pools, notably between the Tronchine and Chamossière bridges.
  • The Fillière, a first-class river and tributary of the Fier, spans 24 km in length. Historically abundant in insect hatches, the river’s insect population has diminished over time, impacting the density of brown trout. Upstream of Usillion, the pristine environment supports a healthy population of modest-sized fish. As the river flows downstream to Groisy, larger brown trout can be found. From Charvonnex to the river’s mouth, anglers may also encounter trout, along with a respectable population of barbel and chubs.
  • The Chéran, a 54 km long river originating from the Bauges massif in Savoie and joining the Fier in Haute-Savoie, has earned a place among France’s ten most beautiful rivers. This stunning waterway features breathtaking landscapes and is home to a thriving population of zebra trout. For fly fishing enthusiasts, we highly recommend exploring the Boussy run, situated near Rumilly, which has a NO-KILL policy, ensuring sustainable fishing practices.
  • Other famous rivers in the region are: Arve river, Borne river, La Diosaz ravine, L’Eau Noire, Le Maleve, Le Bon Nant.
  • Among the mountain lakes recommended for fly fishing, the following are worth mentioning: Lake Pormenaz, Lake d’Anterne, Lake Brevent, Lake Vert, Lake Fontaine and Lake Darbon.

Species: The Haute-Savoie waters boast a diverse range of species that appeal to fishing enthusiasts. Among them, you can find Brown trout, Zebra trout, brook trout, Rainbow trout, Cristivomer trout, grayling, chub, and pike.

Size of trout: Generally, the trout in these mountain rivers tend to be of small to medium sizes. While large trout are not common, there are exceptions, and certain medium-sized rivers and lakes offer opportunities to catch larger trout.

Type of fishing: At the beginning of the season, fishing primarily involves nymphs, except during the middle of the day. As summer arrives, fishing shifts to dry flies, nymphs, and tandems to yield successful results.

Contact with the fishing federation: We highly recommend visiting the website www.pechehautesavoie.com/. This comprehensive platform provides essential information such as fishing regulations, fishing areas, fishing courses, season opening and closing dates, and even webcams showcasing the rivers for an enhanced fishing experience.

 

8- ATLANTIC PYRENEES DEPARTMENT

The Atlantic Pyrenees Department is situated in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, located in southwestern France along the border with Spain. Renowned for its fusion of Basque-French traditions, stunning mountain landscapes, and notable peaks like Midi d’Ossau, this department offers a unique cultural and natural experience.

In addition to its cultural richness, the department boasts more than 5,200 kilometers of prime fishing grounds, encompassing a variety of rivers, streams, and mountain lakes. Key species include brown trout, Atlantic salmon, and eel.

Notable rivers for trout fishing include the Gave d’Ossau, Gave d’Aspe, and Le Saison. It’s noteworthy that the Gave d’Oloron is acclaimed as one of the country’s premier salmon fishing rivers.

A particularly favored area in the Atlantic Pyrenees is the no-kill section of Tardets. Established in 2006 through collaboration with the municipalities of Tardets-Sorholus and Alos-Sibas-Abense, this stretch extends from the confluence with Montory Creek to 50 meters upstream of the Trois Villes dam. Another appealing stretch is the Logibar no-kill section, initiated in 2013. These areas are overseen by the Basaburua Fishermen’s Association.

 

 

9- HAUTES-PYRÉNÉES DEPARTAMENT

The Hautes-Pyrénées is a department in Occitania, France, established in 1790. Covering an area of 4,464 km², it shares borders with Gers, Haute-Garonne, Huesca (Spain), and Atlantic Pyrenees. Its geography encompasses mountains, hills, and plains, featuring notable sites such as the Pic du Midi de Bigorre and the Cirque de Gavarnie.

The main rivers for fishing in this department include the Gave de Pau River, the Nestes River, the Garonne River, and the Adours River. Originating in the French Pyrenees National Park, these rivers harbor excellent populations of brown trout. Known as a fly-fishing paradise, this department boasts over 2,500 km of first-class rivers populated with wild trout and 220 mountain lakes. The rivers in this department have significant gradients, and trout fishing in the downstream rivers from the high peaks is highly popular.

The primary challenge in this department, as in other French rivers, is the limited adoption of catch-and-release fishing, with a prevalent use of bait such as worms, fly larvae, and cheese. Consequently, despite having excellent settings, trout populations are not as abundant as in the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, in Spain.

 

 

10- ALPES DE HAUTE-PROVENCE DEPARTMENT

The Alpes de Haute-Provence, situated in the southeastern region of France, constitute a department with an impressive mountain range known for its natural beauty, including the prominent Ecrins National Park. This department is particularly appealing for fly fishing enthusiasts due to its proximity to cities like Marseille, Cannes, or Monaco.

Highlighted rivers for fly fishing for trout include:

    • Verdon River: Originating in the Trois Evêchés massif, this river spans 170 km and is classified as a first-category fishing destination. From mountain torrents to tributaries like Bouchiers and Clignon, it is home to brown trout.

    • Durance River: This river, with various tributaries, offers abundant fishing for brown trout, barbel, and chub. Noteworthy tributaries of the Durance, such as the Asse River and the Ubaye River, stand out for their beauty and trout density.

    • Var River: To the southeast of the department, it features areas rich in first-category streams like Coulomp and Vaire.

This department is also characterized by excellent mountain lakes for fly fishing. Some of these lakes are accessible by car, while others require good physical condition, such as Lake d’Allos, the largest in Europe, or Lake del Marinet for more experienced hikers. In these lakes, one can fish for brown trout, brook trout, lake trout, and rainbow trout.