The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is internationally famous as one of the most prestigious yachting destinations in the world. From the Casino of Monte Carlo and luxury megayachts of Monaco, to the festivals and promenade of Cannes, to the Old Town and museums of Antibes, to the beaches and shops of St Tropez, the French Riviera beckons with infinite allure.
In the summer months, nearly every coastal town on the French Riviera has a harbor with shoulder to shoulder, head turning superyachts whose owners and guests represent international wealth, celebrity and privilege. These amazing ports of call are available whether you and your charter party require a superb megayacht, luxury crewed catamaran, performance sailing yacht, Sunreef charter experts will find the ideal charter yacht for you to explore these fascinating destinations.
The French Riviera encompasses the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, including the sovereign state of Monaco, from the Italian border in the east to Saint-Tropez and Hyères in the west. Whether clients opt to board their luxury superyacht in Cannes, a chic power catamaran in Saint-Tropez, or a classic sailing yacht in Monaco, an itinerary can easily reach all of these storied coastal towns.
The region, which has been populated since paleolithic times, began to flourish during the 18th century as an exceedingly fashionable, elite vacation destination. The mild, dry climate lured members of the British upper class in the late 18th century as a winter health resort. The arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century gave easy access to this international playground of royalty and aristocrats. In the first half of the 20th century, the Côte d’Azur became a mecca for artists and writers as well; Picasso, Matisse, Maughm and Huxley, to name a few.
In the 1950s, villages and towns along the picturesque Mediterranean coast became must-have locations for the second estates of foreign celebrities and privileged others. To this day, offering some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, wealthy foreigners continue to purchase property and to play a vital role, indelibly interwoven into the Riviera’s economy and social fabric.
Hyères, the oldest resort on the French Riviera, has attracted a significant British aristocratic presence dating back to the mid 18th century, including stays by Queen Victoria. Today this vibrant town is the site of the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival, a huge fashion and art photography event that has taken place annually at the end of April since 1985. The prestigious festival attracts cutting-edge artists worldwide and was among the first venues to recognize the talents of the Amsterdam-based fashion house Viktor & Rolf. The city also plays host to the annual MIDI French Riviera Festival in July, a music festival now into its sixth episode.
There are many event charter yachts that are ideal for these festivals, as well as the many other important events that take place on the French Riviera each year. A luxury charter yacht is perfect as a hospitality suite for static charters, for corporate entertaining and as a sophisticated means to mix business with pleasure.
Legend has it that when Napoleon arrived here he heaved a sigh and dubbed the town the beautiful-place-by-the-sea, and so named this enchanting village that is situated between Nice and Monaco. Toward the end of the 19th century, as the Côte d’Azur developed into a world class destination for the wealthy, Beaulieu-sur-Mer became a favorite residence for European royalty and rich Americans. Isaac Singer, founder of the Singer sewing machine company, and eccentric James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald, are just two of many well to do families that chose this location to build fabulous estates, still in evidence today.
Plan to disembark from your deluxe sailing catamaran or sporty power yacht to stroll around Beaulieu-sur-Mer, a real thrill to history buffs and enthusiasts of period residential architecture. The Port de Beaulieu is always dotted with luxury superyachts and the convenient marina offers general yachting services.
Villefranche-sur-Mer adjoins the city of Nice to the east along Mont Boron, Mont Alban and Mont Vinaigrier, and lies about six miles south west of Monaco. The bay of Villefranche is one of the deepest natural harbors of any port in the Mediterranean Sea providing superb passage and anchorage for deep draft megayachts. The port, which was created in 1295 by Charles d’Anjou, is a charming place for the crew to dock your beautiful sailing yacht or power catamaran for the afternoon or overnight.
Popular with writers such as Katherine Mansfield and Aldous Huxley, Villefranche continues as a haven for creative artists who occupy quaint little houses reached by narrow alleyways that climb the hillside. Two of the more recent celebrities who have bought villas in the area are Tina Turner and Bono, and local venues accrue an eclectic mix of interesting personalities.
This picturesque medieval setting of red tile roofs and narrow cobblestone streets has also been the backdrop to many movies including; Captain Horatio Hornblower, Adventures of Captain Fabian, To Catch a Thief , The Count of Monte Cristo, An Affair to Remember, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Never Say Never Again, The Jewel of the Nile, The Bourne Identity, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and countless video clips and commercials.
Cap d’Ail is a modern, thriving seaside resort with a lively shopping district on the Basse Corniche and quiet, fashionable residential quarters popular with commuters from Monaco. Plage la Mala is a glamorous beach inaugurated in 1933 in memory of the dancer Mala Kchessinska. Legend has it that here she strolled arm in arm with her lover, Tzar Nicolas II, the last Russian Tzar.
Ranked one of the best beaches on the Côte d’Azur, Mala is the perfect spot to dock your charter superyacht or sublime power catamaran for a leisurely afternoon swim. Venture into town for evening cocktails in a delightfully friendly party atmosphere after sundown. Although you are unlikely to rub shoulder’s with Cap d’Ail’s cherished noble lineage who have passed, the ancient line is carried on today by Le Haut Duc Vincent Mondiot.
Antibes is a favorite destination for luxury charter yachts. Located between Cannes and Nice, there are no less than 48 beaches along the 25 km of coastline that surround Antibes and Juan les Pins. This is a delightful area for the crew of your beautiful sailing yacht to take you exploring by tender.
For knowledge seekers, there are five museums in Antibes. Pablo Picasso spent six months here visiting a friend in 1946 and donated several works to the municipality that are kept in the Picasso Museum located in the restored Chateau Grimaldi. Of a more exotic bent, the Absinthe Museum is dedicated to the appreciation of this infamous liqueur. Follow up with a visit to the Absinthe Bar La Balade, a unique opportunity for those who dare to try this mysterious green liqueur, illegal in most places for its reputation to cause insanity.
Antibes offers excellent shopping in trendy boutiques, and in the old town a number of galleries include paintings of local scenes. If your charter power catamaran is docked in the harbor, a covered market nearby offers an enticing selection of meat, fish, cheese and vegetables. Here, gourmet restaurants feature traditional French cuisine as well as local specials focusing on fresh seafood and produce from Provence.
In April, the annual Antibes Yacht Show is dedicated to the brokerage and charter of larger yachts and in June, the Voiles d’Antibes is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of old teak and brass sailing vessels that converge on the port for one of the most regal regattas in the Mediterranean.
Nice is the second most popular tourist destination after Paris and the largest city in the French Riviera. The town changed hands many times, contributing to an architecturally and culturally rich heritage. Its strategic location and port gave the town great maritime strength throughout its history and today provide superb facilities for many magnificent charter megayachts, crewed catamaran, elegant sailing yachts and performance power yachts.
For visitors interested in archeology and history, one of the oldest human settlements in the world, Terra-Amata, is situated near Nice and dates from the Lower Paleolithic period. Since the 2nd century AD, the splendor of the city has attracted many famous painters and sculptors including Chagall and Matisse, and inspired composers and intellectuals such as Berloz, Rossini and Nietzche. Nice has numerous museums of all kinds, including an interesting Naval Museum.
Being a vacation resort, Nice hosts many festivals throughout the year, such as the colorful Carnaval de Nice, scheduled for February 15-March 6, 2013, and the 8-day long Nice Jazz Festival, attracting legendary jazz performers, it is regarded as one of Europe’s major jazz events.
Just across the gulf from glittering Saint Tropez, plan to dock your luxury charter yacht in the harbor of Sainte Maxime, a captivating city to explore.The old town is lined with shops, markets, restaurants, bars and cafés just opposite the harbor. Stretch your sea legs along the charming shoreline promenade that passes manicured parks where locals compete at the popular French ball game of pétanque.
If your charter yacht is near the pier, head ashore to browse the interesting shops that include several marine shops and an upscale restaurant. Or anchor your stylish charter catamaran off of the city’s sparkling, white sand beaches to enjoy swimming or a visit to the beachfront casino. For lovers of nature, the Botanical Garden has walkways with plaques identifying regional plants and trees. Also, a bit of an excursion will lead you to the forested hills of the Maures mountain range with picturesque walking and hiking trails.
Saint-Tropez is well known today for its famous celebrities and extremely wealthy summertime guests. The playground of jetsetters, fashion models, and millionaires, it is renowned as the city where the iconic Bridgitte Bardot was “discovered”. Saint Tropez is considered a world capital of yachting and in the crowded harbor storied superyachts are docked side by side throughout the summer season.
This trendy town is more than glorious sandy beaches and magnificent yachts. Down historic cobbled streets, concealed by rows of cafes and gift shops, are the boutiques of some of the world’s greatest fashion designers. In the history of modern art Saint-Tropez also plays a major role, as the location where Pointillism and Fauvism emerged, Saint-Tropez has served as inspiration to legendary painters as well as fine artists of today.
Each September yachting enthusiasts anticipate Les Voiles de St. Tropez, a world-famous regatta held at the end of the month. All types of sailing boats, from traditional to modern, compete with each other in this very popular, international event.
The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city state bordered by France on three sides and by the Mediterranean Sea. In 2011, Monaco maintained its status as the world’s most expensive real estate market, at $56,300 per square meter, with the highest rate of millionaires and billionaires per capita.
The architecture of the glamorous Belle Èpoque building and gardens of the Monte Carlo Casino have provided an inspired setting for several James Bond films and should not to be missed by visitors to the city. The beaux arts building was designed by the architect Charles Garnier, who also created the Paris Opera House.
Since 1911, Monaco has attracted crowds of spectators to the Monte Carlo Rally, and since 1955 to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. The Monte Carlo Rally was originally held at the behest of Prince Albert I and is, like the principality’s Grand Prix, organized by the Automobile Club de Monaco. It has long been considered to be one of the toughest and most highly regarded events in rallying. The Formula One Monaco Grand Prix is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. Magnificent charter yachts available for both of these events provide a superlative platform for spectators.
Nineteenth-century Cannes is still present in the grand villas, built to reflect the wealth and standing of their owners and inspired by anything from medieval castles to Roman villas. In additional to palatial architecture, Cannes is famous for its luxury shops, restaurants and posh hotels. The city hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival, MIDEM, the foremost trade show for the music industry, MIPIM, the worlds largest property-related trade show, and MIPCOM and MIPTV, held in October and April respectively, the world’s most important trade markets for the television industry. In September, the Festival de la Plaisance is a popular event for yachting enthusiasts and is held held in both the Vieux Port and the Port Pierre Canto. The prestigious show brings together key players in pleasure boating and international luxury yachting.
There are many charter yachts available that specialize in event charters and offer a superb option to charter clients to act as hosts during these prestigious events. Highly professional, meticulously trained crews are as adept at catering to large scale affairs as to intimate parties. A luxury charter yacht is perfect as a hospitality suite for static charters, for corporate entertaining and as a sophisticated means to mix business with pleasure.