Spending a day on a boat off the coast of the French Riviera and Monaco can be a magical experience for all. Here are some great spots to visit.
A hot summer’s day is perfect for getting out on the water. Seeing the Côte d’Azur from the sea gives a wonderfully different perspective to the region, and allows people to enjoy aspects of the area that are just not possible in a car, on a bike or on foot.
ÎLES DES LERINS
Just 15 minutes off the coast of Cannes, this island grouping packs a lot of punch. The two main islands, Île Sainte Marguerite and Île Saint Honorat are a natural wonderland with beautiful flora and fauna in a surprisingly unspoilt setting.
Île Sainte Marguerite is known for its fort, now the Museum of the Sea, and as the site of the cell that kept the “Man in the Iron Mask” prisoner in the 17th century. It also features several discoveries from offshore shipwrecks such as Roman and Saracen pottery.
Île Saint Honorat is inhabited by Cistercian monks, who have lived there on-and-off since 410CE. There are medieval touches still evident in the rather austere church and the ruins of an 11th century monastery are evident on the coast.
The monks fill their days in prayer, as well as in producing red and white wine, honey, lavender oil and Lérina, an herbal liqueur. The site is typically closed to the general public, but the monks welcome guests for week-long retreats at various points of the year.
Billionaires’ Bay – or Anse de l’Argent-Faux (fake money) if you want its real name – is located at the foot of Villa Eilenroc on the Cap d’Antibes. Until 2011, this spot was only accessible by boat, but a small path has now opened it up to those on foot too.
Nonetheless, this little spot is still rather secluded and has an air of being completely away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the coast. The small cove is surrounded by rocky outcroppings and the turquoise blue waters has an enduring appeal.
No trip to the south of France would be complete without a trip to Saint Tropez, and Pampelonne Beach is where the legend all began. The still-hot spot was made famous in the 1960s by Brigitte Bardot and remains a place for the jet set to gather to this day.
The road traffic to get into Saint Tropez makes coming by car arduous and annoying, whilst arriving by boat provides easy access to the exclusive beach clubs that offer not only fabulous food options, but also incredible people-watching, with celebrities often spotted on Pampelonne’s golden sands.
Make like those on the yachts and grab a waterproof dry bag for essentials, then swim to shore to get the full experience.
BEAULIEU SUR MER
Just a short jaunt from Monaco, Beaulieu sur Mer is a great place to stop for a dip in the sea or to grab a leisurely lunch at one of the eateries that sit on the two main beach areas of Petite Afrique and Fourmis.
There is no official tender service, but several local restaurants have access to services who will come and fetch passengers for a fee from out at anchor.
If mooring off the coast and just bobbing around is more the idea, this spot has wondrous views of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat as well as of the dramatic Beaulieu coastline, with mountains rising up from the coast at a dizzying angle, making for excellent photo opportunities.
Make sure you’re never left out of the conversation.
Featured photo credit: Ville de Cannes