Imagine yourself on a majestic yacht surrounded by movie stars enjoying a sublime dinner next to a picturesque port. Where would your charter be? France of course!
France is a leading nation in the yachting world
The most extravagant luxury yachts are found on the Cote d'Azur
Popular ports and harbors are fully booked in season
Wild and unspoiled Corsica contrasts sharply with the French Riviera
Crowds in the summer months are overwhelming
Explore the Mediterranean from the French coastline and Corsica
France is very proud of its long sailing history and maritime traditions. As one of the leading nations in the yachting world, France has one of the most developed yachting industries and yacht charter opportunities. The leading worldwide boat builders are French. Many of the boats in the charter industry are produced by French Companies. Nautical yacht charter bases throughout the world are French-owned or run, even where you least expect them. A yacht charter in France offers a beautiful coastline, fabulous food and wine, history, and non-stop opportunities to enjoy art, architecture, and monuments.
THE FRENCH RIVIERA & THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
The French Riviera is the playground of the world's rich and famous for a reason. The 100 miles of Mediterranean coastline offers a unique blend of sophisticated cities mixed with quaint ports. The climate is balmy with long, dry summers, and plenty of sunshine. The sea is generally quiet with moderate breezes and the tides and currents are easily negotiated. Generally, the wind blows northwest at 5-15 knots, which makes for pleasant sailing conditions and calm anchorages.
An integral part of the French Riviera is the yacht charter industry. Some of the most fabulous luxury yachts in the world are based here. The elegance and the extravagance of these luxury yachts are complemented by the French lifestyle. There are 30 harbors, 25 miles of beach, and over 3,000 restaurants from which to design a fabulous itinerary. Be aware that the most popular harbors will be booked well in advance. Oftentimes, the whole world will want to be in the same place at the same time. Berths in Cannes, for example, are booked at least a year in advance for the Film Festival. If you are flexible, you will certainly find other ports and perhaps make use of local taxis that will get to the center of such hot spots as St Tropez or Nice.
The ultimate yacht charter experience in the French Riviera, whether it be on a bareboat or a luxury yacht, will surely include a fair amount of people watching along with an exploration of architecture, museums, and history. Be sure to be well-rested to take advantage of the nightlife, which is in itself an attraction. Certainly, the French Riviera is a very vibrant sailing region. With short sails between destinations, it is tempting to explore a new place every day. Highlights of this region include the following destinations.
Officially known as the Principality of Monaco and is its sovereign state. Monte Carlo offers a beautiful natural harbor and sophisticated casinos. An evening stroll along the docks will allow you to marvel at the many mega yachts that call Monaco their home.
Brigitte Bardot made this quaint village a hot spot for celebrities from all over the world in the 1950s. Still, the place to be seen, St Tropez draws crowds to its harbor, beach, restaurants, and clubs. With its sensual lifestyle, swimsuits are optional at many beaches.
This important city offers a variety of things to do in addition to sunbathing on its pebbly beaches. There are churches, art museums, markets, and fabulous architecture to be explored. Nice is easily accessible from its international airport.
Famous for its International Film Festival, Cannes is particularly glamorous. The beaches, boutiques, and restaurants are very exclusive.
As the largest marina in the region, Antibes has a plethora of yachts from which to choose. In particular, Antibes has become a capital for luxury yachts. The old town is a lovely place to visit.
These three islands provide an escape from the crowds with their unspoiled terrain. Eighty percent of the largest island, Porquerolles, is a protected park.
South of France
Choosing a yacht charter further south will be a less expensive approach to sailing in France than the French Riviera. Another plus is that there won't be hordes of tourists. From Toulon, one can choose to sail up the Cote d'Azur or down towards Marseilles. Although the charter industry has made the French Riviera hugely attractive, there is a very special Provencal appeal that awaits discovery. At the hub of this region is Marseilles, the second-largest city in France and home to one of the largest and oldest ports in France dating back 2600 years. The city and nearby coastline are fascinating. Be sure to visit the old fishing town of Cassis and seaside Bandol with its fabulous wines. While cruising this region be sure to indulge in its local gastronomical specialty, the famous Bouillabaisse (fish stew).
The French island of Corsica is an exceptional place for a yacht charter vacation. Known for its rugged mountains and towering cliffs, Corsica contains many fishing villages and unspoiled places for yachts to anchor. The island contrasts sharply with the highly developed French Riviera. However, some ambitious sailors do attempt to navigate both. With six hundred miles of coastline to discover, there is a lot to explore on Corsica alone. A two-week itinerary is necessary if you aim to sail completely around Corsica, a trip of 330 nautical miles. A one-way itinerary might be a good idea if you don't have that sort of time. We know many satisfied sailors who chose to combine Corsica and Sardinia in their itinerary.
Many consider the south of Corsica to be the most beautiful with its main harbor in Bonifacio. The characteristic of Bonifacio is its setting, high on the cliffs overlooking the sea. The location is an ideal point of departure for the Bonifacio channel and Lavezzi Islands. Also, in the South, Porto-Vecchio hosts hundreds of luxury yachts in its new harbor. On the west coast lies Ajaccio, from which you can explore unspoiled bays not accessible from land. Ajaccio is of historical importance as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. On the northeast shore of Corsica lies Calvi with its fortress and the beautiful beaches of l'Ile Rousse.
General Tips on Sailing France
Wherever you are in France, chartering a private yacht is the best way to enjoy wonderful scenery and distance yourself from the hordes of tourists. However, be prepared that in season, this reprieve can also make access to popular destinations complicated as ports and berths are often fully booked. The months of May, September, and October are the best time for a sailing vacation as the weather is warm and the region less crowded.
As France is extremely crowded at the height of the summer season, hiring a skipper may be useful even for the seasoned sailor. Having a local skipper on board will ensure that your charter experience will be more carefree. A local skipper will know how to negotiate the often overcrowded, small, and tricky harbors. He will also know the best beaches and the best restaurants and markets. A skipper will not be able to get you into the trendy hot spots on the French coastline.
With endless opportunities to eat in France, from three-star restaurants to the local café, a hostess/chef may or may not be necessary. Provisioning may be an enjoyable part of your French experience, stocking up at local markets or taking out pre-prepared local delicacies from caterers.
Millions of tourists from all over the world continue to visit and enjoy all that France has to offer. The elegance and indulgence of a yacht charter are in complete harmony with the lifestyle of France.
The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with cool winters and mild summers characterized by exceptional sunshine almost 300 days a year.
Strong winds, known as la Mistral, can occur in the Cote d'Azur, Provence, and in the Rhone valley particularly over the winter and during the spring.
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