Le High Life - why sail in the French Riviera?

What's so special about the French Riviera (Cote d'Azur), and what is it like to sail there?

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The Cote d'Azur or 'French Riviera' is a collection of rustic villages which dot along the Mediterranean coastline on the Southern French border, including big hitting names like Saint Tropez, Nice, Antibes, Cannes and Monte Carlo - which is why it is one of the favourite holiday playgrounds for the world’s glitterati - the rich and famous head there for the glamour, the romance, the beaches, the scenery, the atmosphere of bonhomie, the beauty, and so many other reasons. Our experts explain why:

View from beach What's so special about the French Riviera? 

It's a majestic place to spend time. The hotels are all five star (or more), the restaurants are all exceptional, the beaches are always immaculate, the sun is always shining, the beach-side champagne-bars are superb, and the cocktails – oh, don’t get me started on the cocktails!

But it’s more than that – there’s some of the finest art galleries in the world, so much culture (including, obviously the Cannes International Film Festival), but also castles, cathedrals and literally stunning architecture, old and new. There’s the glamour of the high-rolling casinos in Monte Carlo, where you can imagine that you’re James Bond. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s elegant, it’s, as they say, fantastique, and I recommend you stroll through the various old towns, in the sunshine, and take it all in.

Port Hercule, Monaco When did it become popular? 

It became famous in the early 1900’s, when the presence of the likes of Picasso (there's a museum dedicated to him in Antibes) and Matisse helped it to cultivate an arty, bohemian vibe, and its popularity has grown since then to become the most popular tourist region in France – and that is saying a lot, because France welcomes 89 million visitors a year (pre-Covid).

 What's it like to sail around? 

Cote d'Azur coastI think you’ve already guessed that it’s epic, and in so many ways. Charter from our base in Cote d'Azur and there’s a strong chance that you’ll rub fenders with a few SuperYachts along the way – they’re there because it is genuinely one of the most beautiful places to spend time.

It’s a dream to wake up in Saint Tropez and sail yourself over to Cannes. Maybe stop at one of the amazing beaches to dive into the crystal clear waters on the way? Then when you’ve seen everything there is to see in Cannes, hop back on board and head off to Nice, or any of the other stunning destination towns on the Cote d’Azur.

It’s a place where stories and memories are made: imagine being able to tell your mates that you sailed your way into Monte Carlo one night, moored up (effortlessly, obviously), then sat quaffing champagne on deck whilst watching the sun gently drift beyond the horizon.

Rooftops of Nice What the land-tourists get - and MORE! 

But it’s so much more than just the picture-postcard towns (which are each a land-lubbing tourist destination in their own right) – there’s so many great beaches to relax and enjoy, there’s also a remote marine national park with islands which offer a remote and quiet place to enjoy nature (and the sunshine).

History lovers will get their interest piqued by buildings, boats, artists and stories dating back to the Romans, through Napoleon, to Hemingway and pals, right up to Leonardo di Caprio, Lewis Hamilton, Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Elton John, Kate Moss, and more.

Cap Taillat Not as expensive as you think (or as busy) 

And actually, it’s not as expensive as you might think – search in the pink box to see what we mean. Many of the ports are municipal owned and have reasonable prices for smaller yachts (see our blog on this later this week), and you can spend as much or as little as you like on eating and drinking (you have your own galley) – but if you’re only here once…

One other plus is that most of the yachts in the marinas are for prestige or for hosting parties, so they’re seldom sailed and there’s plenty of space for cruising around, particularly outside of August or the Monaco Grand Prix week (usually in late May each year).

So do it, go sail there, tick off another cruising ground, and live the high life for one week: you’re worth it!

 Sold it you yet? 

Be sure to check out our destination guides to find out a LOT more about sailing in France, or search in the pink box for yachts and catamarans in the French Riviera / Cote d'Azur with live pricing and availability, or contact our award-winning Customer team through LiveChat, UK Freephone or email!

 Want more like this? 

This is part of our 'Destination Highlights' week of blogs focussing on sailing in France - including What's so special about sailing the French Riviera, Moor up in Monaco for less than you think, Champagne moments in the French Riviera, and Top 3 anchorages in the French Riviera. You might also be interested in checking out our similar Destination Highlights: Croatia, Destination Highlights: Italy, Destination Highlights: Malta, Destination Highlights: Scotland, Destination Highlights: Bahamas and Destination Highlights: Spain blog series from previous months!