Yacht Charter on the French Riviera
The Côte d'Azur, commonly known in English as the French Riviera is the
Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. It also
includes the sovereign state of Monaco. It has no officially recognised
boundries but is generally considered to extend from either the French
town Menton or the Italian border in the east to Saint Tropez, Hyères or
even Cassis in the west.
The French Riviera is a major yachting and cruising area with several marinas along its coast. The climate, cuisine and sophistication of the French River make it one of the most popular yachting destinations in the world. According to the Côte d'Azur Economic Development Agency, each year the Riviera hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region's coast at least once in their lifetime. Monaco, Antibes, Cannes and St Tropez are popular ports for these mega yachts.
The Côte d'Azur covers 560 miles of coastline and is home to a mix of sand and shingle beaches. Nice is the areas largest city and home to the Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. Popular yachting destinations and coastal resorts from W to E include; Cassis, La Ciotat, Bandol, Sanary-sur-Mer, Six-Fours-les-Plages, Toulon, Hyères, Îles d'Hyères - Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Île du Levant, Le Lavandou, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Saint-Tropez, Sainte-Maxime, Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Les Adrets-de-l'Estérel, Théoule-sur-Mer, Mandelieu and La Napoule, Îles de Lérins - Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat, Cannes, Golfe-Juan, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, Villeneuve-Loubet, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Tanneron, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Èze, Cap d'Ail, Monaco, Monte-Carlo, Beausoleil, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Menton.
What You Need – Experience & Qualifications - For bareboat charters the skipper of the boat is required to have an ICC certificate or equivilant.
Charter Season - The French Riviera charter season generally runs from April to the end of October. July and August are the hottest months and tend to have the lightest winds and also the largest crowds. This is also the high season for yacht charter. Other good times to charter your yacht are on either side of the high season, April-May and September-October, the temperatures are more comfortable and there is not the overcrowding that can be experienced during July and August.
History of the Area - The Côte d'Azur has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 7th century BC, Greek sailors began to visit and build trading posts along the Côte d'Azur. Roman towns, monuments and amphitheatres were built along the Côte d'Azur and many still survive, such as the amphitheatre and baths at Cimiez, above Nice, and the amphitheatre, Roman walls and other remains at Fréjus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the first half of the 5th century was followed by invasions of Provence by the Visigoths, the Burgundians and the Ostrogoths. There was then a long period of wars, which in turn led to further invasions by the Saracens and the Normans in the 9th century. Provence retained its formal independence until 1480 and became part of France in 1486.
Until the end of the 18th century, the area later known as the Côte d'Azur was a remote and impoverished region, known mostly for fishing, olive groves and the production of flowers for perfume (manufactured in Grasse). A new phase began when the coast became a fashionable health resort for the British upper class in the late 18th century.
Weather - The Côte d'Azur has a Mediterranean climate, with sunny, hot, dry summers and mild winters. Temperatures are moderated by the Mediterranean days of frost are rare in the winter and in summer the maximum rarely exceeds 30°C. Strong winds such as the Mistral, a cold dry wind from the northwest or from the east, are another characteristic, particularly in the winter.
Time Difference - UTC +1
How to Get There - Nice Cote d'Azur is the nearest airport. It is the third busiest airport in France and is used by numerous airlines offering a mix of year round and seasonal flights. Major carriers include; Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Air Berlin, Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, EasyJet, KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair and SAS Scandinavian Airlines. By rail the TGV Sud Est service takes 5.5 hours from Paris to Nice.
Currency - Euro
Language - French. English is spoken widely
Food & Drink - Provencal cusine is the result of the warm, dry Mediterranean climate. Basic ingredients are olives and olive oil, garlic, sardines, rockfish, sea urchins and octopus, lamb and goat, chickpeas and local fruits. The great majority of the wines produced in Provence are rosés. The most characteristic grape is mourvèdre, used most famously in the red wines of Bandol. Cassis is the only area in Provence known for its white wines.
Suggested 1 week Itinerary- Antibes - Îles de Lerins - La Napoule - Cannes - Nice - Monaco - Antibes
Day 1 - Join the boat at Antibes in Port Vauban, the largest yacht harbour in Europe. Visit; The Naval Museum of Napoleon, housed in a 17th century stone fort and tower, this museum presents a collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, paintings and naval models; The Exflora Park is a five hectare garden open to the public. Next to the large olive grove, there are different styles of Mediterranean gardens. Fountains and ponds stretch along the terrace, making a waterway 500m long; Garoupe Lighthouse provides one of the best views in the region from its lofty hilltop. To get here, you must walk about one kilometre up the Chemin de Calvaire from the Plage de la Salis. It makes for a nice half-day stroll.
Day 2 - Antibes - Îles de Lerins - 7miles. Firstly head West towards Cap d'Antibes. After a little sailing, anchor for lunch Anse de la Garoupe or at the end of the Cap, in Anse de l'argent faux which is sheltered from a westerly wind. In the afternoon head for the Îles de Lerins across from Cannes. Île de Saint Marguerite, the largest, has nice creeks to explore as well as its fort and museum to visit. There is a lovely promenade on the Île de Saint Honorat with a 4th century monastery. Overnight, depending on the wind direction, anchor between the two island, taking care to avoid any reefs that are to be found around these islands.
Day 3 - Îles de Lerins - La Napoule - 5 miles. Sail across the Golfe de la Napoule towards the harbour of La Napoule. It is known for the Château de la Napoule, a fortified castle of the 14th century on the edge of the harbour.
Day 4 - La Napoule - Cannes - 5 miles. Cannes is a short sail to the E. It has two harbours. One is the old port suggested for its charm and its proximity to the old town and all the shops and restaurants. Port Canto, at the extreme east of the town, is the second harbour. Although some distance from the town centre it is near the casino and offers the facilities of a modern marina. La Croisette is the waterfront avenue with palm trees, picturesque beaches, restaurants, cafés and boutiques. The fortified tower and Chapel of St Anne house the Musée de la Castre. Other museums include the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence, Musée de la Castre, Musée de la Marine, Musée de la Photographie and Musée International de la Parfumerie.
Day 5 - Cannes - Nice - 20 miles. A good sail the the east and the city of Nice. Good eating can be found in the old town or around the harbour of Nice. Or spend the night at anchor in the famous bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, protected from all winds except southerlies. Visit; The Château, Monument aux Morts, Cours Saleya is probably the most traditional square of the town, with its daily flower market. There are good restaurants serving typical Nicois cuisine, markets and many pubs. Jardin botanique de la Ville de Nice, a municipal botanical garden open daily without charge. Musee Massena, Marché aux Fleurs, Grand Hôtel Impérial, Fort of Mont Alban
Day 6 - Nice - Monaco - 7 miles. Head East towards Monaco. Smaller boats should go inside the harbour of Fontvieille, on the West side of the "Rock" of Monaco, as Monaco harbour does not accept yachts less than 20m. Monaco proposes several interesting places to visit such as the Oceanographic Museum and the Changing of the Guards in front of the Palace. The casino is of course a must see.
Day 7 - Monaco - Antibes - 16 miles. Head west and back to Antibes. Anchor for lunch at St Jean Cap Ferrat in one of its bays depending on the wind direction.
Day 8 - Disembark
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Jones runs a guide to Yacht Charter in France.
Follow this link for more info on Cote d'Azur Yacht Charters.
See our Cruising Guide for information on Marinas, Harbours and Anchorages on the French Riviera