The French Riviera

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Discover a sun-drenched world of extravagance and coastal beauty.

The French Riviera is an opulent slice of south-eastern French coastline cooled by the Mediterranean. It stretches from Marseille to Menton and even includes the regal microstate of Monaco.

The region - ‘Côte d'Azur’ to the French - is ideal for cruising cliff-top roads, sunbathing on glorious beaches, flitting through quaint local markets and of course, yachting. Around 320 days of its year are blessed with glorious Mediterranean sunshine, providing ample time to enjoy the 115km of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and no less than 3,000 restaurants! In short, this part of the world is sun-drenched, seductive and oh-so French.

A Divine Location

The geography of this coastal belt is truly exceptional. The mountainous national parks of Verdon, Luberon and Préalpes d'Azur stand tall to the north, protective and breath-taking, while the endless blue of the Mediterranean Sea glistens to the south. If you were to flex your French tongue and ask a local, they would certainly direct you to any of the vantage points that provide astounding views of both.

With ancient olive groves and fields of native lavender, there’s plenty to fuel the produce sold at the weekly local markets. Almost every town in the region boasts a bustling square teeming with stalls offering the goods, as well as spices, soaps and various handmade crafts. And if you’re looking to get up close and personal with the spectacular landscape and rolling hills, you can take part in plenty of afternoon excursions including vineyard visits, hiking trails or cycling routes. Like the stunning Gorge du Verdon, the deepest canyon in Europe.

A colourful soap stall in Marseille
A colourful soap stall in Marseille.

Yachting Through the Years

But perhaps you’re looking to take advantage of the sea? The French Riviera does after all host 50% of the world’s superyacht fleet, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region’s coastline at least once in their lifetime. In 1872, the Prince of Wales at the time paid his first regal visit with his royal yacht, appropriately named, ‘Britannia’. He would frequent the French Riviera during its long summers until he became King Edward VII in 1901; presumably he was too busy from then on.

Other royalty and high-ranking aristocracy throughout history have also favoured the Côte d'Azur as a holiday destination. Queen Victoria visited many times as well as Napoleon III of France, Leopold II of Belgium and even Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Although it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th century that the first influx of upper class British tourists descended upon the Côte d'Azur, all eager to visit Europe’s latest fashionable health resort.

Unmissable Marinas

To really soak up the grandiose yachting culture, we recommend visiting the many marinas and ports across this beautiful stretch of coastline.

Cannes is another popular yacht charter destination with many ports, the most desirable of which is Vieux Port (650 yacht berths), which occupies a prime spot at the foot of the historical Le Suquet. Although very busy during the various festivals the city hosts throughout the year, the rather apt Cannes Yachting Festival is definitely worth experiencing.

Panoramic cityscape of Vieux Port, Marseille
Panoramic cityscape of Vieux Port, Marseille.

Nice is the fifth largest city in France and home to Port Lympia. The blue waters of the 500-berth port create an idyllic setting when paired with the red of the surrounding terracotta roofs. Nearby is the lively Old Town area (Vieux Nice) and splendid seafront promenade. Enjoy a plethora of restaurants and superb artistic and cultural attractions including the breath-taking opera house, Opéra de Nice and the grandiose Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

Blue waters of Port Lympia, Nice
Blue waters of Port Lympia, Nice.

Mandelieu-La Napoule is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes. Port La Napoule (917 yacht berths) and Port de la Rague (560 yacht berths) are the two ports you’ll find here. The local beaches of Plage du Sable d’Or and Plage Robinson provide a healthy untouched paradise, each having been awarded the Pavilion Blue (Blue Flag) label for environmental cleanliness. L’Oasis and La Palmea are two Michelin-starred restaurants nearby, both with stirring views of the harbour especially at sunset.

The province of Mandelieu-La Napoule
The province of Mandelieu-La Napoule.

Boat Tours

Although chartering a luxury yacht in the Côte d'Azur would indeed be the perfect way to spend a summer, popping from port to port in a privately-owned vessel is not quite a hobby that everyone can pursue. Luckily, there is plenty of opportunity for you to experience the thrill by taking part in an exciting locally-run tour. That’s right, you too can enjoy the same pleasures as Victorian aristocracy!

Prices really do vary when it comes to sailing along the French Riviera. You could pay under €20 to share a cruise for an hour, €100 to sail around in a private yacht with your own personal skipper, or over €40,000 to rent a superyacht for the day. Luckily, there are options to suit any budget, no matter how small or large.

A view of Cannes Bay
A view of Cannes Bay.

We’ve scoured the region to provide you with some of the boat tour businesses that operate in the area. Viator is a very handy TripAdvisor-owned company that lists plenty of the available excursions, while there are more options on the French Riviera tourism site. For those looking to really splash out, you can rent a luxury yacht or join a more lavish tour with Talamare.

Where you wish to visit in the French Riviera will affect the length of your drive from Calais. You can get to Marseille in less than 9hrs 30mins, or a trip to Monaco would take you around 11hr. The fastest route either way would see you pass through Lyon and soak up plenty of the delightful French countryside.

So, how about it? Throw caution to the wind and make the Côte d'Azur the destination of your next Eurotunnel road trip! Just remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best prices available.