The Côte d’Azur is a summer playground for yachtsmen. Artists and aristocrats have flocked to the azure coast since the nineteenth century, and this route will take you to glamorous hotspots and tranquil islands off the coast.
Antibes is a wonderful starting point for a sailing holiday in the French Riviera. It is an alluring city and an old haunt of Fitzgerald and Hemingway that visitors are bound to fall in love with. A walk through the cobbled streets to the morning Marché Provençal that sells fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers is a must do. There is also the Musée Picasso that has a nice collection of work including pieces that Picasso created whilst staying in Antibes in 1946. Grasse, the world’s perfume capital is also accessible from Antibes, and it is possible to tour the famous perfumeries. The Iles de Lérins island group lies Southwest of the coast of Cannes. Ile Saint Marguerite is the largest island and is covered by beautiful pine and eucalyptus forests. Ile Saint Honorat is an extraordinary little island that has been inhabited by monks since the fifth century. You can visit the Cisterian Abbey, and it is possible to purchase wines, lavender oils, honey and liquors made by the monks here. Note that guests are required to act in accordance with the quiet and peaceful atmosphere on the island. Cannes is one of the most glamorous towns on the Cote d’Azur and is renowned for the annual film festival during May. Vieux Port (the old port) is the most picturesque part of the town and hosts a lovely flower market. Sailing west you will reach Saint-Raphael. The main beach extends all the way from Saint-Raphael to Frejus and is perfect for sunbathing and swimming. There are also some fantastic scuba diving spots in the area. Next Saint-Tropez, where sailing into the harbor you will see the sun shining on the warm colored townhouses. St. Tropez is where A-listers go to see and be seen, and stars can be spotted on the beaches and in the exclusive nightclubs and restaurants all summer. Porquerolles in the Îles d'Hyères is a bit of a change of scenery. Motor vehicles are banned on this calm island, and it is necessary to explore by bike or foot. Visitors can cycle through the woods, and explore the rocky and sandy shores. Toulon is the southernmost point of the Riviera and a nice final stop. Sailors may find the Musée de la Marine of interest, that pays homage to the maritime tradition in the Mediterranean. Before returning to Antibes, drive up the Corniche du Mont-Faron (the road leading up to Mount Faron) during sunset and take in the views.
The Cote d’Azur is a well-established sailing area and some of the best marinas in the world can be found here. Sunshine and light winds can be expected from May through to September, however the area becomes incredibly busy during July and August. Sailors should watch out for the ever-changing sand bars and bad weather coming from the East. We recommend the route to travelers with previous sailing experience.