The youngest Vendee finisher
The fastest woman around the globe
The second solo sailor to go round the world in less than 100 days
MacArthur thrust her fist into the air, after what has been a gruelling three months, and was joined on board by her father Ken who embraced her.
Problems had dogged the 24-year-old right up to the last. On
Saturday she was forced to fix a faulty navigation light.
Clearly delighted to be reunited with her family and friends, she said: "I started the race on 9 November with one objective - finishing.
"I still can't believe that I managed to get second place, but my thoughts and prayers go out to those competitors who are still at sea.
"It is extremely tough, and I am relieved that I won't have to make any tactical decisions for a while."
MacArthur heads for port on Sunday
She added: "I'm amazed at the encouragement and support that I've received from the public - and I can't ever begin to tell you how much difference it made to receive all their e-mails."
There was a surprise in store for MacArthur upon her arrival in France.
The boat Iduna, in which she sailed around Britain in at the age of 17, had been re-launched at Les Sables-d'Olonne after being laid up at her home in Derbyshire.
MacArthur came second behind French winner Michel Desjoyeaux, who received a hero's welcome when he completed the 25,000-nautical mile journey on Saturday.
This is a fantastic achievement for Ellen and a huge boost for British sport
His time of 93 days three hours 57 minutes 32 seconds was a new record.
A Royal Navy helicopter took MacArthur's parents, Avril and Ken, and brother Fergus to fly over Kingfisher in a trip arranged by the British embassy in Paris.
Sports Minister Kate Hoey added: "This is a fantastic achievement for Ellen and a huge boost for British sport. The whole country salutes her bravery and her skill."
During the race, MacArthur captured hearts around the world with her courage and determination to succeed in sailing a boat that would normally have a crew of 12.
MacArthur was unfancied even to finish the tough race - but at one point she briefly led the eventual winner Michel Desjoyeaux for one day, before damage to her 60 ft vessel saw her
challenge fade in the final 1,500 miles.
She will collect £40,000 in prize money for her achievement.