French Riviera

A-list adventure

From St Tropez to the Italian border, where the Alps Mountain Range meets the Mediterranean Sea, Europe’s most exclusive charter destination remains one of the most alluring yachting venues in the world.

In this famous corner of southern France, shopping is an art form, eating out is high-end seduction and the streets are catwalks for the wealthy and well heeled. Its heritage is defined by glamorous personalities like Grace Kelly and Sofia Loren and its calendar is spiced with events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix on Monaco’s street circuit and the Cannes International Film Festival. As the birthplace of yacht charter holidays, the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera) remains the spiritual home of the superyacht and the world’s most indulgent A-list playground.

Monaco might be the world’s second smallest country but it fully warrants its reputation as the wealthiest and most glamorous place on earth. Ignore the beaches and head for the old town with its royal palace, luxury boutiques and beautiful urbanites. The Café de Paris is great for people watching, the internationally acclaimed Louis XV restaurant is a memorable gastronomic adventure and the beguiling Casino de Monte Carlo is a thrilling distillation of what makes Monaco so special.

The sheltered natural yacht harbour of Villefranche-sur-Mer makes a fine anchorage for watersports against the backdrop of the 14th century citadel and port. Nearby St Jean Cap Ferrat, with its white sandy beaches, verdant hillsides and enviable peninsula setting, is home to some of the most expensive residential properties in the world. The Rothschild Villa Ephrussi Gardens and the Reserve de Beaulieu restaurant are particular highlights.

Eze

Eze is an impossibly picturesque Provencal village. Perching precariously on the edge of a steep cliff, it offers some of the best views on the whole Riviera. The ancient zigzag streets are great for a stroll and there are plenty of art galleries, shops and restaurants to entertain. An alfresco meal at Michellin-starred Chateau Eza, overlooking your yacht on the azure waters of the Riviera, is a truly memorable experience.

If Antibes is the quintessential Mediterranean port, the exclusive outcrop known as Cap d’Antibes is a place of enduring legend. In addition to the expansive Juan-les-Pins beach resort, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, with its private beach, spa and restaurant, is a well-established hotspot for touring glitterati. A short distance inland lies Vence, one of the best preserved medieval settlements in the region, a deeply romantic setting and a famed source of artistic inspiration.

Cannes is a lively, cosmopolitan city with a vibrant events calendar spearheaded by the International Film Festival in May and the Yachting Festival in September. It offers everything from fine dining and luxury shopping to sparkling beaches and a lively nightlife. Across the bay, Ile Saint-Marguerite’s translucent creeks are great for a leisurely swim and the nearby Ile Saint-Honorat is owned and run by Cistercian monks, who make and sell award-winning wines.

St Tropez is notorious for its hedonistic lifestyle and nearby Pampelonne Beach is an intoxicating exponent of that ethos. This legendary social hotspot has been fuelling the riotous reputation of the town since the 1950s when it achieved infamy through the patronage of seductive superstars like Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Greco. Today, the town’s old port is a great place for superyacht cocktails and St Tropez itself is full of fabled bars and nightclubs. The star-studded Caves du Roy is not to be missed.

Just west of St Tropez, Porquerolles is a tranquil chain of islands and a protected nature reserve with ravishing white beaches and elegant coves. Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write ‘Treasure Island’ here so if the French Riviera’s high-octane entertainments become a bit much, the modest serenity of Porquerolles will prove the perfect tonic.

TOP TEN FRENCH RIVIERA ATTRACTIONS

  1. Visit Monte Carlo’s glamorous Casino, star of no fewer than three 007 films.
  2. Sample the beauty, wealth and hedonism of the infamous Pampelonne Beach.
  3. Cruise Cap D'Ail, a fashionable Monaco superyacht resort with fine beaches.
  4. View the Monaco F1 Grand Prix from the upper deck of your superyacht.
  5. Soak in the atmosphere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
  6. Sample Alain Ducasse’s three-starred Louis XV restaurant in Monaco.
  7. Join the throng at St Tropez’s raucous Place de Lices market.
  8. Take a swim among the pristine, dive-friendly coves at Ile de Porquerolles.
  9. Enjoy high-end couture at the famous palm-lined ‘La Croisette’ in Cannes.
  10. Visit Ile Saint-Honorat to sample its award-winning organic wines.

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