Picture a sailing charter in the South of France and what comes most likely to mind is a cruise among the super yachts along the Côte d’Azur. That is where you find the glitz and glamour of Monaco, St Tropez, Nice and Cannes. Nevertheless, there is more to the French Mediterranean coast than the section that stretches from Spanish border to the eastward up to Italian border.
The south of France has a relatively short coastline, around 400 nautical miles (640km) depending how many bumps and bays you measure. It also has a roll call of familiar names, along with a sense of the exotic resorts ‘discovered’ by writers and artists in the early 20th Century.
Close to the Spanish border and on the edge of the Pyrenees lies Collioure. It became an artists’ colony and the list of names who came here reads like a who’s who of modernism and other leading art movements; Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Salvadore Dali…
Nowadays Marseille is the new cultural capital of the south. The Fort St-Jean dominates the north side of the harbour and is a useful landmark. Head into one of the yacht clubs’ pontoons on the south side of the Vieux Port and you are right in the heart of the old city.
Marseille is the home of the Provençal fish stew bouillabaisse, and Chez Madie les Galinettes on the north side of the harbour is as good a place as any to sample the local speciality, paired with a crisp glass of Provence rosé. You are also just a short sail from the Iles du Frioul and the Château d’If, setting of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
South East France
Heading east of the French coastline, Nice is the capital of the coast and considered by many to be the queen of the coast – the classiest resort of them all. This is where the Alps run down to the sea and shelter the coast from the worst effects of winter, giving it a mild climate all year round without extremes of hot or cold.
Again, you will moor up in the centre of the city and again you will need to book ahead. Le Marlin, just across the road from the pontoons, is a small family-run restaurant where you can keep an eye on your pride and joy as you people-watch and enjoy beautifully presented seafood dishes paired with regional French wines.
On a sailing holiday, you can discover unspoilt islands, rugged inlets, and sandy beaches – side by side with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. Moreover, do not miss St Tropez with its famous clock tower, picturesque cobbled streets and collection of designer boutiques. The qualities of light and scented landscapes that have attracted so many artists, combined with warm velvety nights, are all ingredients of the intangible, eternal appeal of the French Riviera.
Explore the glamorous coast of the French Riviera and enjoy the chic lifestyle.