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Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel and the North Sea, France is perfectly placed for access to and from Western Europe and beyond. With its dedicated army of employees, the French ports can be relied upon to move 250 MT of goods and resources a year. Inland waterways and extensive road and rail logistics networks make certain everything gets to where it needs to go.

The ports

In France, Port Authorities are in charge of monitoring and policing maritime traffic and access to the ports. They also oversee the development and maintenance of the port infrastructure including quays, locks, break walls and road and rail access. Loading and unloading equipment such as container gantries and cranes however have been transferred to the private sector since the port reform of 2008.

There are ten major sea ports to be found in France: Dunkirk, Rouen, Le Havre, Nantes/Saint Nazaire, La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Marseille, the largest port to border the Mediterranean Sea. With 40,000 people employed to keep things moving, these ports are responsible for approximately 80% of the total sea port traffic in France. The turnover in 2012 reached 264.30 MT. While the majority of this was comprised of liquid bulk, such as crude oil, liquid natural gas and refined oil products, there was also place for dry bulk like coal, iron ore, cereals, cements and aggregates. The cargo in the general sector is predominantly in containers, with the exception of materials such as steel, paper, wood and sugar.

Port rankings based on million tons of goods in 2012

PORT

TOTAL IN MT

LIQUID WASTE COLLECTED IN M³ *

SOLID WASTE in M³ *

MARSEILLE

85.6

29000

21500

LE HAVRE

63.5

3033

2350

DUNKIRK

47.6

1040

459

NANTES/SAINT NAZAIRE

29.9

2202

400t

ROUEN

21.2

NA*

1259

LA ROCHELLE

8.3

NA*

NA*

BORDEAUX

8.2

NA*

150t

TOTAL

264.3

35275

 

Based on figures collected by SWC (ships’ waste collector)

Always in reach

As well as these major sea ports, ports of national importance in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Brest, Caen, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Lorient, Saint-Malo and Toulon ensure easy access points are never far away, while the Canal du Midi provides a convenient route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the French system does not stop here. It is always possible to head inland, with 12,261 kilometres of waterways criss-crossing the country and key river ports in Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg providing top-quality services.

On the road

France keeps cargo on the move with more than 1,000,000 kilometres of serviceable roads. The road network in France is the most extensive on the European continent. It stretches out to virtually every corner of the country and links to cities in all neighbouring countries, including, thanks to the Channel Tunnel, the UK. There are no annual registration fees or road taxes, but tolls always make their presence known.

The iron highway

Almost 30,000 kilometres of railways complement the road network. Operators SNCF had a simple aim: the fastest railway network in the world. Their high-speed passenger trains and constant innovation made this a reality. Freight transportation and logistics trains may not reach the same velocities, but they still benefit from the domestic and international connections.

It is this infrastructure that makes France not just a gateway to Europe, but a major hub filled with excellent and reliable resources that are sure to fulfil any and every need.