Cruising the French & Italian Riviera offers something for everyone: mix with the jet-set along the Côte d’Azur or relax among unspoilt views, enjoying wonderful local specialities.
Monte Carlo is a good starting point for casinos and culture, like the brilliant Oceanographic Museum. Don’t miss Jimmy’z nightclub and La Salle des Etoiles for summer concerts. Check out Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV and Joël Robuchon’s restaurants at the Hôtel de Paris and the Hôtel Metropole respectively. Heading west, Èze is all cobblestone alleys and quaint Provençal shops. For a great place to eat, try the Chèvre d’Or. The Riviera is art central: don’t miss the Picasso Museum in Antibes or the Fondation Maeght in Saint- Paul de Vence — with lunch at the Café Llorca.
Two of my favourite anchorages are on this stretch of coast. The deep-water bay at Villefranche is ideal for swimming and watersport,s with a relaxed waterfront ambience. For a more sophisticated anchorage, try Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Stop off in Cannes for luxury brands and golf, en route to Saint-Tropez, where Pampelonne Beach tops the Riviera A-list of beaches, home to the legendary Club 55 and Voile Rouge. Nikki Beach is an afternoon hot spot, while the ultimate nightlife venue is Les Caves du Roy. Try Spoon at the Hôtel Byblos or Villa Romana for dinner.
For the Italian Riviera, turn left instead of right out of Monte Carlo, or start your cruise at the new port in Genoa and head for Portofino, a favourite for charterers with its famous Hotel Splendido and Da Puny restaurant. The perfect Italian Riviera view must be looking down on Portofino with its beautiful bay and amazing backdrop of pastel buildings.
For authentic simplicity and spectacular views you can’t beat the Cinque Terre — a UNESCO world heritage site. Your itinerary should also include Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio — gateway to inland delights such as Florence, Lucca and Pisa.
Plan your charter carefully around events like the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival (both in May), and Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez (late September). Allow 7 to 10 days. Fly in to Nice, Cannes Mandelieu or Hyères for the South of France, or Genoa for the Italian Riviera.
Leslie Excoffon has been a yacht charter broker for 20 years, 16 of them in Monaco with Burgess Yachts, the world’s leading luxury yachts provider.