'A beautiful France, seen from the sea' — such is the motto of the new series Ponant Cruises plans for six of its yachts.

Still subject to national, prefectorial and port authorizations, they are currently offered only for pre-reservation, until the French government gives its approval.

If that happens, ‘We should resume our cruises as soon as July 4,’ said Hervé Bellaiche, chief sales and marketing officer for Ponant.

Five itineraries along the French coasts

Cruising off the beaten track, exploring natural jewels and combining cultural enrichment with time to unwind, the routes reflect Ponant’s philosophy and are detailed on the company’s website under ‘Eté 2020’ (French for ‘the time being’). Weeklong departures are offered until September.

On 11 cruises from Saint-Malo, Le Champlain and Le Jacques Cartier will explore the Ponant Islands in a tribute to the places that inspired the company’s name 30 years ago. Highlights include Brehat, Scilly, the Morbihan Gulf and Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

From Le Havre (13 cruises), Le Dumont D’Urville focuses on Normandy and the pink granite coast (Etretat, Chausey and Batz Islands). Bordeaux (12 cruises) serves as the gateway for Le Bougainville, with the nature and famous gastronomy of New Aquitaine (Arcachon, Ré and Houedic islands, Fort Boyard).

From Marseille (14 cruises), L’Austral explores the Côte d’Azur (Camargue, Esterel coast, Hyères Islands and ‘secret’ sides of the Saint-Tropez peninsula). Nice (11 cruises) is the turnaround port for Le Lyrial, which heads to Corsica’s scenic sites like Bonifacio and the Maddalena Islands.

Not just for the French

‘These cruises are not only for French passengers. As usual, English will be also spoken on board our ships. And foreign guests are welcome as long as travel and sanitary conditions allow it,’ Bellaiche said.

Ponant is also negotiating parking at embarkation ports for those who drive their own cars. And if travelers don’t want to drive or take a train or plane, the line can organize a private transfer from home to the ship and back.

COVID-19 protocols

Before Ponant suspended sailing, it didn’t have any reported COVID-19 cases among passengers or crew.

In order to resume, ‘We have set a double protection principle which includes checking 100% of the persons and goods before embarking, then strict sanitary protocols applied on board,’ Bellaiche said. The measures are detailed on Ponant’s website.