For years, the well-heeled and glamorous have flocked to the Côte d’Azur, docking their yachts just off the coast, yards from such posh seaside resort towns as St. Tropez and Nice. The French Riviera, as many refer to it in the U.S., is a major yachting center, with marinas up and down its coast. In fact, some accounts say that over the course of a year, the destination plays host to about half of the world’s luxury yachts. With more than 300 days of sun per year, it’s easy to understand why.
Princess Mariana's main salon is perfect for entertaining guests. The yacht also features six cabins.
The yachts that descend upon Cannes each year for its film festival showcase the famous and affluent. Chances are, however, that the yacht they are lounging upon is not their own. Instead, private charters have been the increasingly preferred way to go. The bespoke essence of private yachting is why many opt to go this route on vacation, rather than taking a normal cruise. Hiring a yacht allows for personal freedom that a regular cruise, even a luxury one, can’t touch. The experience is totally customizable from the itinerary, the type of ship and its size, all the way down to the cuisine served at each meal. The flexibility that a chartered yacht provides is the reason clients keep swearing by them when it’s time for a vacation.
In the French Riviera, the yacht charter season generally runs from April to the end of October; but it’s the summer season—July through August—that tends to draw the biggest crowds. This is the high season as far as French Riviera yacht charters are concerned, and hiring a yacht for this time period should be done well in advance.
The Beach Club transforms into a 40-foot pool, a great spot to relax when acnchored off shore.
Seven Seas Yacht Charters has specialized in luxury yacht vacations for more than 20 years from its headquarters in Nokomis, FL. The company represents yachts all over the world—whether your client is interested in the Bahamas, Caribbean, South of France, Greece or anywhere else.
Though not necessary, Seven Seas can supply itinerary templates, if clients want to defer to that route. Note: There are no set itineraries on a private yacht charter as there would be on a cruise. We love this: For that week, you own the ship.
Seven Seas provides the following French Riviera itinerary on the M/Y Lady Sheridan, a motorized yacht, which carries an intimate 12 guests in seven cabins. On the first day, guests arrive at Nice International Airport, where they are met by the crew and taken to the yacht at the port of Villefranche. First Stop: Portofino. The boat then stays in port for the entire next day before departing for Monaco in the evening. Note: Unlike intransigent cruise itineraries, these yacht voyages allow for guests to stay in a port for long periods of time, and without the headache of the tedious disembarkation process.
In the evening, the yacht departs for Monaco (gaming, anyone?). The next day brings the travelers to Cannes, which, along with its noted film festival, boasts great haute-couture shopping, including Chanel, Dior and Gucci. Jean-Paul Gaultier can be found in the Gray d’Albion arcade at number 17.
A Seven Seas Yacht charter is an alternative to booking a cruise: customized itineraries and run of the ship await.
This itinerary also allows for a trip to Îles de Lérins, two small islands located just offshore from Cannes. Afterwards, it’s on to St. Tropez, where the nightlife is as hot as the afternoon sun. We hear the “in spot” is Les Caves Du Roy at the Hotel Byblos, a member of Leading Hotels of the World. Note: If you find yourself sitting next to Hollywood royalty, don’t say we didn’t tell you so.
The last full day is spent anchored off Pampelonne Beach, known as one of the best beaches in all the South of France. Note: Yachts like the Lady Sheridan usually provide a full range of water toys with which to play. Luxury travel advisors can contact Tim Nelson ([email protected] charters.com; 941-966-6017) with specific yacht questions and other itineraries.
Another luxury yacht broker we’ve heard great things about is Fraser Yachts (www.fraser yachts.com), which has offices in Fort Lauderdale; Seattle; San Diego; and Newport, RI, as well as several locations in Europe. The company specializes in luxury vacations and has access to virtually every top-quality charter vessel around the world.
Bespoke dining in a new port each day is one of the allures of a yacht charter.
Case in point, our favorite, the Princess Mariana, is decked out to the hilt in luxe amenities. Top Touch: The yacht’s “Beach Club” is a dry dock for the custom-built tender, which can be flooded when the tender is outside, forming an almost 40-foot swimming pool with underwater lighting and steps. Added Bonus: The starboard hull wall lowers to just above sea level, creating a large teak private sun terrace for the owner’s suite.
There is also a helipad on board, which, when not in use, transforms into a golf driving range with a computerized screen showcasing a host of well-known courses.
All six staterooms feature plasma TVs and are stocked with DVDs and music. The party deck is the place to be: two bars, a raised dance floor, a grand piano, three movie screens, a barbeque, sun beds and a spa pool. There is also a theatre on the main deck with seating for 13 guests.
After an evening of conviviality, guests can get back in form at the fully equipped gym with an elliptical machine, treadmill, exercise bicycle and free weights. Fraser Yachts has offices spread across the globe, but Luxury Travel Advisor suggests reaching out to Charter Broker Robin O’Brien ([email protected]; 945-0463-0600) in the Fort Lauderdale office.