French Beach Provincial Park is a 59 hectare (146 acre) camping and day-use provincial park, about 22 km from the centre of Sooke. It’s a scenic 15-20 minute drive along West Coast Road. Roughly triangular-shaped, the park fronts upon the Strait of Juan de Fuca and its sand-and-pebble beach is about a mile (1.6 km) long, so there is lots of shoreline to explore and places to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Named after James French, an early pioneer who pre-empted lands west of Sooke in 1885 after an arduous 2-year journey from New Brunswick, the park represents what was his home and favourite beach which was dedicated by his family in 1974. Consisting of the shoreline, marshes, several creek estuaries, and plenty of large second-growth Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock and western red cedar, this park truly has it all: Camping, picnic areas, trails, playgrounds, and more.
Camping in the park is a popular way to enjoy it – there are 69 year-round vehicle-accessible sites and one large group site. There is a sani-station for those with recreational vehicles. Camping is handled by the Ministry of Environment and can be reserved online, here.
There is a large day-use parking area and a short walk from the parking lot leads to the picnic grounds, playground, and of course, the beach. If you haven’t visited a provincial park in the last little while, remember that the government recently repealed the parking fees in provincial parks, so it’s now free. There are pit toilets at the top of the trail and at several other locations throughout the park.
Looking out from the beach, you might see grey whales, or even killer whales, depending on the season. The waves at French Beach can be very large, and there are also strong ocean currents, so swimming is not generally recommended.
Have a look at my Parks Map – you’ll notice there is a residential area that borders the park’s eastern edge. For a change, why not park at the end of Seaside Drive or Alderbrook Place and hike through the forest to get to the park? The Seaside Drive entrance has a path that leads to the far southern end of the beach and it is often very quiet and peaceful at this end of the park.
French Beach is one of my favourite spots to go in the evening. It faces west, so you can catch some amazing sunsets. It can be cool at French Beach, especially if the wind is blowing off the water, so bundle up. If you’re camping, even in the summer, it can get very cold at night and into the morning if the fog rolls in, so plan accordingly.
Enjoy our parks – get out and explore this summer. Here are a few more shots of French Beach.
What’s Your Favourite thing about French Beach Park?