On this page we at Carp-Lakes hope to be able to give you some good advice about Carp Lakes in France and the different types of French Carp Lakes and trips you can book. We are the experts on the subject, and we have been carp fishing in France several times before. We do therefore have a great deal of experience and it is our aim to provide a step-by-step guide for those thinking of Carp Fishing in France for the first time, and to provide a reminder to the more 'seasoned' travellers - for we are all capable of forgetting things occasionally!
There are a number of options open to you and many of these are advertised within our French Carp Lakes Section. In recent years many Lake owners and Businesses have come onto the scene who can provide you with the following:
Organised Trips - French Carp Lakes
These are ideal for those with limited time on their hands to do the organising themselves. These usually fall into two separate categories: Guided Trips and All-inclusive deals.
The former offers you the benefits of having your own experienced guide who will help you attempt a water you may be wary of tackling on your own, and at the same time you could improve your angling skills. A Guide will do as much or as little as you want them to, but will be on hand to help if need be, and can even help you choose a swim.
The latter usually means you will be picked up in the UK at previously agreed pick-up points, or maybe at the chosen ferry port, such as Dover or perhaps Portsmouth, and then transported to the Lake. Tackle is usually supplied as is bait and food for the time you are there. Another option with regards the all-inclusive deals is to fly there and be picked up at the airport.
These are the easiest options open to you, but because others are doing the donkey-work for you, it will also cost you a lot more!
Drive and Survive to French Carp Lakes
By far the best option - for me at least with this option you will choose the venue you want to fish and book it - either directly with the lake owner or through a UK based booking agent like www.carp-lakes.co.uk . You can book your own ferry crossing; drive yourself there; and feed yourself whilst you are there. This can all be very exciting and adds so much more to the whole adventure.
The same can be done if there are a group of you and plan to use a mini-bus and trailer, but realise from the start - the more people involved, the more of a logistical nightmare it can become - be warned, I've been there! But a fantastic time can be had by all - especially if you are able to book the whole lake to yourselves.
Choice of Carp Venue:
Where the heck do you begin? Well, why not look at what some of the the lakes on this site have to offer? There are a number of companies that advertise on Carp-Lakes that you could consider. Most have excellent websites of their own and have detailed descriptions of their lakes, including size, swims available, on-site facilities, distance to shops, size and head of fish, lake depths, you name it and the information is there - if it isn't, email or ring them and ask, they want your business so will always be accommodating!
Consider what type of venue you want to fish?
Do you have a bit of the old pioneering spirit? If so, get yourself a Map of France and choose from the wonderful rivers, such as the Rhone, Seine or Saone. Or choose from one of the public waters, these are not so heavily fished but contain some real monsters, as do the rivers. If you do choose this option, remember you will need a permit.
National and Regional permits are available locally - often from Café's, Bars,the Post Offices (look for La Poste or Bureau de Poste) and of course, tackle shops. These permits are known as 'Carte de peche' and their cost for most departments (counties) is around 50-70 euros. However, for an extra 25 euros the departments south of Paris have a reciprocal agreement which basically means you get two thirds of the country for the equivalent of around £70 for a year - this is known as 'Entent Haliautique et Grand Ouest'. What you need to ask for is "une Carte de Peche pour la carpe uniquement, s'il vous plait." By stating this you will make it clear you only wish to fish for carp. If you don't you may end up paying a lot more. Unfortunately, a number of the waters you may want to fish will not be covered by the Entent Haliautique et Grand Ouest, so check to make sure first! Once you have decided on an area, email the local tourist info board, you will find them very helpful.
The permit you can get for the Paris area is called the UPIF (Union des Pêcheurs de l'Ile de France). It covers you for Paris 75, Les Yvelines 78, Les Hauts de Seine 92, Essonne 91; Seine-Saint-Denis 93, Val-de-Marne 94, Val-d'Oise 95 plus some most other departments in France too. There are two sorts of Carte the 'Reduite', which covers all coarse fish except predators and the 'Complete' which lets you fish for predators and is necessary for night fishing on the legal areas. Obviously the Complete is more expensive. This year you'll pay 67 Euros for the Reduite and 87 for the Complete, the UPIF is 11 euros extra. (Thanks to Gareth Watkins for that info).
You should now be thinking of what you hope to achieve from your week! Do you want to catch lots of carp and are not too bothered about size? Or do you want the fish of a lifetime? With either there are obvious drawbacks. With the first option, bear in mind you will be on the bank for a long time - perhaps the longest you have bivvied up for previously has been two or three days, and after catching 'smaller' carp for a few days are you going to be satisfied? With the second option, how will you cope if you draw a blank for the first 3 or 4 days? Can you stick it out, or would you begin to regret not opting for more of a 'runs water'? All these different possibilities need to be understood! If you are not sure, go for somewhere that offers you a bit of a challenge but at the same time is well stocked with plenty of larger fish too. It's a case of finding the right balance.
Before you decide, ask around; for example, you could post your questions on Carp-Lakes Forum to see if anyone has been to the French Carp Lake or venue you are considering. if they have then first-hand experience is a great recommendation!
Once you have chosen you venue and booked it, you then need to decide how you are going to get across the English Channel, which brings me to:
Choice of Transportation
Some venues will only take weekly bookings from Saturday to Saturday, but if you can, try to book mid week to mid week as you will find the prices for the crossing come down considerably and the same applies for travelling at off-peak times, for example in the early hours of the morning.
Whatever transportation method you choose another tip is to book plenty of time in advance. Often you get cheaper deals this way as they are guaranteed 'bums on seats'. Also, try joining the mailing lists of some on the online ferry booking agents you find as soon as you become interested in fishing in France, that way you get regular updates from them regarding any special offers that are around.
Personally, I prefer using the regular ferries. I enjoy the 1 hr, 30 minute average journey time as it gives me a little time to relax between driving to the Ferry Terminal and driving the other side of the Channel. It also gives me time to have a meal and a coffee or beer if I'm not doing the driving.
There are some good deals to be had if you take the time to look. There are plenty of on-line companies found via a quick search on the likes of 'Google', and though it may appear tedious at first with very little to choose between the prices quoted, you will suddenly come across one that is very good. Snap it up, it won't be there for long!
Long established ferry companies such as P&O and Sea-France sail very regularly from Dover to Calais, and now SpeedFerries have set up in competition offering crossings on their Fast Ferry Service to Boulogne at very reasonable prices and very fast too - just 50 minutes. P&O currently run 30 crossing per day, Sea-France, 18 crossings per day, and SpeedFerries, 5 crossings per day.
Calais from the air
Calais offers very easy access to the French motorway network with the A16 running adjacent to the Ferry Terminal and this links very quickly to the A26 which is only 3 kilometres away. If you choose to go to Boulogne then you have to drive a little further to link up with the motorway network, but it's easy enough.
An alternative to the above ferries is Hoverspeed which operates a good service from Dover to Calais with their fleet of Seacat and Super-seacat fast ferries; they are competitively priced and the crossing takes only 60 minutes.
If you prefer not to be rocked by the sea and also get there a little quicker then you would probably prefer going by train. Eurostar can be boarded at Ashford in Kent from where these fast trains complete their journey through the Channel Tunnel in around 30 minutes. On the downside, the prices seem to average out at around double that of the ferry operators.
It is always vitally important to make sure you contact your car insurance company to obtain your insurance green card which provides cover whilst you are in a foriegn country.
It's also worth checking whether you have breakdown cover, unless you take your own mechanic.