Author: Mia Russell

A Background on French Beach Provincial Park

A Background on French Beach Provincial Park

French Beach Provincial Park is located on Juan de Fuca’s magnificent kyle on southern Vancouver Island. The park provides a pebble and sand beach where guests can enjoy a picnic, relax or explore what the surrounding ocean has to offer. French Beach Provincial Park also has spectacular hiking trails that pass through lush forests. In addition to the beautiful scenes of the Olympic Mountains and Juan de Fuca, the 1.6 Km beach on French Beach Provincial Park provides an excellent opportunity for whale watching and discovery. You may get the opportunity to see sea lions, seals, otters, and killer whales’ pods offshore. French Beach Provincial Park is also a fantastic site for bird watching. Some of the birds you can spot here include seabirds, Bald eagles, and ospreys. Camping, accessible by vehicle is available all year round in a spectacular natural setting. The facilities that you will be able to access during your visit to French Beach Provincial Park include pit toilets, freshwater taps, fire rings, picnic tables, and an adventure playground situated at the day-use/picnic area. The day-use area is situated near the gravel and sand beach. Right to the west of the Jordan River Community in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park is the China Beach Campground. The Sooke and Jordan River communities offer restaurants and other services for French Beach guests. French Beach Provincial Park is just 12 miles to the west of Sooke.

A Brief History of French Beach Provincial Park

The 1.6 km French Beach Provincial Park lies on what used to be the T’sou-ke First Nation territory. The T’Sou-ke people’s economy was based on hunting, gathering, and fishing. Traditionally, the land and resources on the beach were owned by extended families of the indigenous people, and were passed on from one generation to the next and couldn’t be sold. The southern Vancouver Island park derives its name from the adventurer James French who was reputed to be courageous and started traveling from New Brunswick in 1883 and settling in Victoria in 1885. Through the travels of James French, he brought exotic animals to zoos for public education and enjoyment. However, during French’s trip west, the adventure got more than he bargained for. As James French was making his way past the Northwest Territories, he suffered frostbite and lost his heel and many of his toes and almost died save for the help of the local Aboriginals. James French later passed away in the year 1952. French dreamt that one day the land would become a Provincial Park and years later his dream came true. Today the French Beach Provincial Park is accessible to the public and visitors can enjoy the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and endless ocean, as well as the vast grassy area ideal for picnics.

Activities at French Beach Provincial Park

Hiking

French Beach Provincial Park provides terrific hiking trails passing through Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, and Douglas-fir’s second-growth forest. You can also beach-comb on the wide swath of lawn that surrounds the gravel-pea beach. The shoreline covering hundreds of miles along the Juan de Fuca Strait provides a terrific opportunity for beachcombing. You’d be suppressed at how ridiculously easy it is to spot sea lions, otters, and seals roaming offshore, while the thermals overhead are glided by ospreys and bald eagles. So don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars during your trip to the French Beach Provincial Park.

Whale Watching

French Beach Provincial Park is a place ideal for whale watching. During a visit to the beach, you can watch the Gray Whales which migrate from Baja Mexico to Alaska’s northern feeding grounds in spring before going back to their breeding territory in the fall. You will often spot resident Killer Whales offshore.

Individual and Group Camping 

French Beach Provincial Park has a sixty-nine site spacious campsite with no hook-ups or showers. However, yurts are available and can be reserved by a telephone call through Discovery Camping. French Beach Provincial Park has a group campsite that can accommodate a group of up to 50 people. The group campsite is accessible throughout the main camping season. The amenities available to group camping include a wood stove, hot water, and a double sink in the private shelter. There is an electrical plug-in where you can use small appliances. There is also ample counter space and lots of tables available. A fire pit is available with group seating, as well as pit toilets that can accommodate wheelchairs. There is a vast grass tenting spot, and the gravel parking spot can accommodate several RVs. Another great thing about the group site is that it is serene and private which makes it the ideal camping site.

Cycling

Another fun activity to do during your stay at French Beach Provincial Park is cycling. However, it is important to note that you should wear your bicycle helmet at all times when you are cycling as required by law in British Columbia. Also, bicycles at French Beach Provincial Park are required to stay on roadways.

Fishing

Fancy a fishing expedition? You will be happy to know that there are a variety of opportunities for fishing at French Beach Provincial Park. As per the federal and provincial fishing regulations fishing is allowed on French Beach Provincial Park. However, before fishing, it is best to check out the current rules set up by Fisheries & Ocean Canada. Also, it’s worth noting that you need to have a suitable license for you to angle or fish in British Columbia.

Swimming & Windsurfing

Although there is no swimming designated region at French Beach Provincial Park, the park’s location on the Pacific Ocean presents lots of swimming opportunities. If you plan on swimming during your stay at French Beach Provincial Park, it’s worth remembering that the water can get quite cold and there are no lifeguards on duty at the park. It might also be a good idea to bring appropriate footwear if you would like to walk on the gravel and sand beach. The beach also presents a variety of opportunities for windsurfing.

Picnic

French Beach Provincial Park has a vast, grassy picnic/day-use spot that has pit toilets, freshwater taps, fire rings, and picnic tables. This spot is near the gravel and sand beach. 

The park can be accessed all year round. Full-service fees are collected from 15th March to 31st October. As from 1st November to 14th March there is a small winter fee, but the services are minimal during this time. One can make a reservation, and it’s worth noting that some sites are served on a first-come, first-served basis.

Amenities

There are various amenities available at French Beach Provincial Park. Pit toilets can be accessed throughout the park. However, flush toilets are not available. Depending on the freezing conditions, a Sani-station is also accessible at French Beach Provincial Park. Since the temperatures are extremely cold during winter, the Sani-dump is inaccessible during this time. The Sani-dump is situated west of the entrance to the park, along highway 14. The campsites are accessible by car and are situated about five to ten minutes from the beach by foot. There’s also nearby banking options. The camping fee for vehicles at the park is $26 for a night during other seasons and $13 during winter nights. If you plan on visiting French Beach Provincial Park, it is worth noting that during this time there are limited services available, and you will not be able to access Sani-sanitation, water, or firewood.

Longer stays are ideal if you want to explore more of what French Beach Provincial Park. You will be able to access a variety of activities mentioned above and many more. However, because of the strong ocean currents surrounding French Beach, canoeing, kayaking, and boat launching at the park are not recommended. On the brighter side, you get to enjoy the 1.6 km of well-maintained trails passing through the evergreen forest French Beach is known for. During your hike, keep an eye for salamanders, frogs, and small mammals like minks.

If you bring any domestic animals or pets during your visit to French Beach Provincial Park, you will be required to put them on leash throughout. Also, pets are not allowed to park in buildings or beach areas. You are fully responsible for your pet’s behavior and should ensure that their excrement is well disposed. Backcountry regions are not appropriate for dogs and other domestic animals due to the potential problems with bears and wildlife concerns.

If you are looking for the ideal place to relax and unwind while doing some fun activities in British Columbia, the spectacular and serene French Beach Provincial Park is for you. The park offers a serene and private environment suitable for individual and group camping, hiking, swimming, whale watching, picnics, and more. With so many fun activities to do and sites to see, you will be hard-pressed not to enjoy your stay at French Beach Provincial Park.