Wind-powered cargo ships, electric outboards with no propellers, boats with retractable tracks: countless companies in the maritime and freight industry are confident they will find the right ecosystem in Normandy to develop their projects. With its 640km of coastline, port facilities, industrial plants and position on the Seine Axis (Axe Seine), Normandy is seen as a leader in the blue economy in France. 

Water powers Normandy’s economy

Normandy is a major French seaboard with 34 ports, two of which are the biggest in France: Le Havre and Rouen. Its economy is directly linked to the sea with traditional trades (fishing, fish farming, shipbuilding, tourism, marine energy) and innovative companies that have moved here (Siemens Gamesa, Ayro, Towt etc.).The Seine connects the region to Paris. It’s an important route that already accounts for 50% of river freight and should continue to grow over the next few years with road freight decarbonising…

Networks to structure the industry

  • Normandie maritime unites and promotes companies in the maritime and freight industry. The association has 150 members and focuses on developing businesses (raising their profiles around the world), promoting Normandy’s expertise, training and employment. 
  • Normandie Fraîcheur Mer is the group for fishermen, fish market traders and fishmongers in Normandy. The association is here to train fishermen, provide quality advice, promote fishing products and by-products, encourage restaurants to work with local suppliers etc.

Maritime industry: Normandy is ready to raise anchor

  • 640km of coastline 
  • 34 ports
    inc. 9 commercial ports
  • Biggest French port for international trade
    Le Havre
  • Biggest French port for grain exports
    Rouen
  • Biggest French marine energy potential
  • 2nd biggest French sea fishing region
    Biggest shellfish catching region
  • 13,000 marina floating docks
    accounting for 10% nationwide

Every aspect of the maritime and freight industry in Normandy

Port activities

Logistique Seine Normandie

The ports are the bedrocks for the maritime and freight industry in Normandy. HAROPA PORT (Le Havre, Rouen and Paris ports) is the biggest port group in France. Le Havre is the biggest French port for international trade, container traffic, energy supply, imports/exports of new vehicles, wine and spirits. Meanwhile, Rouen is the biggest grain export port (2700 boats, 8.6 million tons of grain loaded in 2022).

The ports in Cherbourg, Caen-Ouistreham and Dieppe (Ports de Normandie)  see 2 million passengers, 6.5 million tons of goods and 200,000 HGVs pass through their terminals every year. The SPL des Ports de la Manche manages the commercial and fishing ports in Granville as well as several marinas and mooring ports in the département. 

These infrastructures are surrounded by several businesses involved in maintenance (AMC, SOGEMAR), port operations (Benjamin Bon Travaux Maritimes) and services (line boat cooperative at Rouen and Dieppe ports, Soget, world leader in digital solutions for improved port logistics). 

River activities

2.2 million tons of goods were transported in the Seine area in 2020! These figures are bound to soar in the next few years and could make Rouen a river freight hotspot in France. Normandy has fifty industry establishments in the area, mainly involved in freight. Some river cruise companies are also based here: CroisiEurope and Normandie Croisière. 

Oural

Shipbuilding and maintenance

Teddy Verneuil

Normandy has set the benchmark in shipbuilding  The Naval Group (submarine design), CMN (military buildings) and Effior Allais (aluminium vessels) are among the best-known companies in Cherbourg. Normandy also attracts game-changing SMEs. The Ayro start-up chose to set up its factory in Caen to make wingsails (Oceanwings®) that reduce how much fuel ships use. They have equipped the likes of the Canopée which will take Ariane 6 parts to French Guiana…

Fishing

With 2200 fishermen, 600 boats and 61,000 tons of fish every year (150 M€ in turnover), Normandy is the 2nd biggest fishing region in France. It ranks top for fishing shellfish (15,000 tons of scallops, 8000 tons of whelks, 4100 tons of mussels), oyster breeding and salmon farming. Saumon de France in Cherbourg is the only salmon farm in the open sea in the harbour. People love the signature product for its firm and melt-in-the-mouth texture!

Teddy Verneuil – Calvados Attractivité

Pleasure boating

Adobe Stock – guitou60 – Normandie Tourisme

We do like to be beside the seaside! Normandy has 24 ports for pleasure crafts including in Ouistreham, Cherbourg, Dieppe and Le Havre (the only deep water pleasure boating port in Normandy, open 24 hours). The region has 13,000 mooring rings (8% of the total in France) and over 10,000 registered boats (10% of the total in France). The popularity of pleasure boating has brought with it equipment manufacturers (Shoreteam, Karver, AEK, Voilerie Granvillaise etc.), brokers (Nauti Plaisance, SNIP Yachting), services (Kerboat Services, North Boat), dealers (IDEAL Yacht) and tourism (Esprit grand Large, Multihull) etc. 

Marine energy

Normandy is seen as the biggest marine energy deposit in France with offshore wind farms and tidal stream generators. The region is home to a third of the west shore’s offshore wind farms: Dieppe-Le Tréport (62 wind turbines, 500 MV, 2025), Fécamp (71 wind turbines, 500 MV, 2025), Courseulles-sur-Mer (64 wind turbines, 450 MV, 2025) plus Centre Manche 1 (1 GW) and 2 (1.5 GW) scheduled to launch in 2030. Investments have been made to adapt port facilities to meet the needs of the industry and maintenance sites have been opened on the Fécamp and Ouistreham ports. The biggest names in the industry have moved to Normandy, including LM WIND Power in Cherbourg and Siemens Gamesa in Le Havre. 

Top 3 innovations from Normandy

Iguana Yachts

01

Boats with retractable tracks

Can you picture a boat with retractable tracks like a tank that can launch in water easily without sacrificing performance or design? Antoine Brugidou made it happen! Iguana Yachts designed several models in a matter of years and made a name for itself in the luxury yacht sector. Its latest creation is the Iguana Foiler, the first electric amphibious foiler, launching in 2024.

Iguana Foiler

Voilier en mer
Andrew Neel – Unsplash

02

An electric outboard with no propeller

Le Havre-based FinX has designed innovative, electric, eco-designed, bio-inspired electric boat propulsion technology which replaces the propeller with a membrane that undulates like a fish. It provides an alternative to the combustion propeller and is designed for boats and vessels weighing up to 3 tons. 

FinX technology

Towt, voilier cargo en Normandie
Towt

03

Wind-powered cargo ships

TOWT is the first wind-powered shipping company and based in Le Havre. The SME began working on existing sailboats before building its own fleet of wind-powered cargo ships. The first will be delivered in 2024. The idea is for up to 20,000 tons of goods to sail all over the globe and save 3000 tons of CO2 a year.

Towt wind-powered cargo ships

Normandy flies the flag for industry events

Normandy’s maritime and freight industry makes a splash at several national trade fairs (Salon Nautique de Paris, Assises de l’économie de la mer, Riverdating the European B2B event dedicated to innovative inland waterway and multimodal transport solutions) as well as boat races organised or hosted in the region (Rolex Fastnet Race, Transat Jacques Vabres, Drheam Cup, Tour des Ports de la Manche). Normandie Maritime in particular hosts several professional events locally too (networking, conferences, round tables, orientation or job fairs).

Anne Soullez

The blue economy goes green

With climate change on everyone’s minds, the maritime industry (3% of CO2 emissions worldwide) is making radical changes and Normandy intends to get on board. The region’s Ambition portuaire pour 2021-2025 port manifesto details how it wants its ports’ energy transition to be a USP for the Seine Axis

Similarly, Ports de Normandie is investing in electrifying its port spaces. 3 years ahead of the legal requirement, ferry and cruise terminals will provide electrical hook-ups from 2027 to avoid having to use combustion engines. The same goes for HAROPA PORT where work has begun to electrify Rouen’s cruise terminals. VNF is also working on a project to install e-charging points along the Seine.

Le Havre
Séverine Frères – Normandie Tourisme

Le Havre Smart Port City

Another stand-out project for the industry’s decarbonisation is the Havre Smart Port City campaign to transform the land with several initiatives, including energy transition. Setting the benchmark for France.

Maritime and freight industry employment

Normandy’s maritime industry includes over 5800 businesses and 56,000 employees (accounting for 7% of paid employment in the region) with job opportunities in several fields: fishing, fish farming, shipbuilding, work at sea, maritime law, French Navy etc. Marine energy is also a hotbed for employment given how many projects and industries are in this area.

Skills worth their weight in gold

Teddy Verneuil

Generally speaking, all the businesses in the industry are looking to hire with over 5000 vacancies posted in 2022. Some skillsets are highly sought-after: manual welding, boilermaking, bodywork, electrical maintenance, pipework, carpentry, international goods circulation operations, industrial mechanical maintenance, fish farming, steel frame building etc.

Training in the industry

All kinds of qualifications to work in sea/river trades are available in Normandy, from vocational diplomas to Master’s degrees.

New facilities have appeared to meet the needs of marine energy: AFPA Ifs campus (wind turbine maintenance technician) and Hefaïs (metalwork and welding) in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. The region is also home to Campus des métiers et des qualifications d’excellence international normand des énergies – CEINE energy training centre outside Fécamp. 

Academic establishments

News in the maritime industry in Normandy

Sinay, an Industry 4.0 business 

Environmental impact assessment, port risk management, optimised fishing, modelling, simulation and experimentation, navigational risk assessment and more. SINAY was founded in 2008 and has designed the first multi-business big data platform. The Normandy SME provides unique digital and maritime expertise and won the first Index French Blue Tech, an award promoting maritime start-ups with 23…

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