The Mediterranean city of Cannes is a phenomenal place to charter a yacht. With a rich culture of gastronomy and art and a high-end scene fit for royalty, Cannes is one of the best places on earth to dine, shop, and party by the glittering sea. When it’s time to chill out, there are quiet islands, decadent day spas and flowery hill villages to explore, while adventure calls from the surrounding hills.
Here are 11 things to do on a Cannes yacht charter:
1. Live it up above the city at a Rooftop Bar
A rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunset in Cannes, the balmy air filled with music and the rising moon throwing its early silver on the far-below sea. Considered Cannes’ finest rooftop bar, 360 at the Radisson Blu is a gathering ground of the beautiful people, with a vast expanse of terrace space dotted with low lounges, and glass balustrades affording a magnificent view across the Bay of Cannes. Located at the port right next to the Palais des Festivals, Five Senses is a more intimate rooftop bar complete with restaurant and infinity pool, offering a gorgeous view over the old town. The infamous Baoili club also has a swanky rooftop bar, Cloud Nine, which overlooks the port.
2. Bliss out at a Cannes Day Spa
Cannes, unsurprisingly, has quite a few contenders in the ‘best spa’ category, and the very finest tend to be associated with the grand hotels along the Croisette.
Les Thermes Marins de Cannes is a 2700sqm day spa set right on the seafront at the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel and specialises in thalassotherapy, with a dizzying range of sea mineral treatments and multiple pools, including a spectacular outdoor seawater pool overlooking the Mediterranean.
The Hotel Martinez is legendary for its art deco glamour and long history of hosting celebrity royalty (And real royalty, for that matter.) It’s unsurprising to find out that the hotel’s L.Raphael Spa is ultra-high-end, with 42 plush, low lit rooms and a menu featuring treatments such as diamond dust and caviar facials.
3. Lunch surrounded by the masters in a Medieval Village
Dragging yourself away from your yacht for a few hours will be richly rewarded. The perched village of Saint Paul de Vence is considered one of the most beautiful in France, with its high walls sheltering stone laneways wreathed in ivy and bougainvillea. An artist’s colony since the 1920s drawing artists such as Picasso, this hill village has gone upscale in recent years, with gastronomic restaurants and art galleries aplenty. There are a number of excellent places to eat, but for atmosphere and art history, La Colombe d’Or is simply unmissable. Take a table in the dining room among a priceless collection of works by old customers such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, who paid their restaurant bills here in paintings.
4. Dance like everybody’s watching at an A-list Nightclub
The nightlife in Cannes is famously good, with billionaires and supermodels gracing the dancefloor under the decks of some of the world’s biggest DJ acts. Expect VIP tables and champagne spraying mayhem in peak season. If you’re into super-clubs, upscale Gotha is for you with its 2500 person capacity and multiple areas including a sea terrace by the beach. But if you’re after a more intimate celebrity scene, Baoli is more your game, with Balinese daybeds under the waving palms and an indoor club that drips Hollywood glamour. For an epic night of cabaret, Medusa is hard to beat.
5. Play blackjack under the chandeliers at Casino Le Croisette
With a long 20th century history as Europe’s casino capital, Cannes has three casinos to choose from: Casino Le Croisette, Casino Les Princes, and Cannes 3.14.
All are targeted at the high-end market, but if it’s grandeur you’re after, you’ll want a seat at the high-stakes table at the Casino Le Croisette, situated at the Festival de Palais—home of the Cannes Film Festival.
6. Float through the idyllic Cannes Islands
The perfect antidote to a night of indulgence is a day in the Cannes Islands. Situated just off the coast, this small, tranquil archipelago is a haven of rocky blue-green coves and sweet-smelling pine forest. Car-free and barely inhabited, these islands are a tantalising glimpse of a Mediterranean now almost lost to memory.
Swim, have a picnic, and roam the loamy forest paths, breathing in the heady scent of pine and salty air. On Saint Marguerite you can explore the fort where the real Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned, while on Ile Saint Honorat you can explore the Lerins monastery and wander vineyards tended by monks. Return to the glitz and glamour of Cannes feeling sun-kissed and utterly refreshed.
7. Golf by the sea or in the forested hills
The French Riviera is a golfer’s paradise, offering a multitude of prestigious golf courses.
On a yacht charter in Cannes you’re spoilt for choice, whether you want to stick close to the coast or head into the rolling foothills. Laid out right by the sea at neighbouring Mandelieu-la-Napoule is the enchantingly pretty Old Course, designed in 1891 by a Russian Grand Duke, where the course even includes a ferry ride over a river. Up in the hills away from the coast you’ll find the excellent Golf Country Club de Cannes Mougins as well as the spectacular Royal Mougins: a par 71 masterpiece designed by Robert Van Hagge.
8. Shop for Haute Couture
With its magnificent flagship couture stores along the Croisette and famous ‘Carre d’Or’ (golden square), there’s a reason Cannes is so famous for shopping. Spend a happy afternoon trying on Gucci and Dior, shop for jewellery in the Carre d’or, and fill your bags with fine chocolates and cheeses from the exquisite chocolatiers and delicatessens along Rue d’Antibes. For a bustling glimpse of local life and the wonderful produce and flowers of Provence, visit the covered market at Marche Forville.
9. Get the heart racing with some outdoor adventure
For all its glamour and gastronomy, the French Riviera is also an adventurer’s playground, its hills riddled with mountain-biking trails and deep limestone canyons. Your choices are near endless for active pursuits in this part of the world, whether you’re rock-climbing climbing high above your yacht up the cliffs of the Calanques, cycling world-class road routes into the Alps Maritimes, or bungee jumping above snow-melt rapids in the Gorge du Verdon. Some of these activities will take you on a day trip away from Cannes, but there are also plenty of adventures around Cannes itself, whether that’s kitesurfing or mountain-biking the red rock hills of the Esterel.
10. Beach Clubs
Passing a day in a Cannes beach club is one of life’s more indulgent moments, listening to the gentle lap of the water and the rustle of ice in a silver champagne bucket as the waiter pulls out a bottle of blush-pink rose. While the lunch scene is pretty chilled out, the energy rises as the summer afternoons wear on into the dusky night.
There’s a lengthy list of Cannes beach clubs, but here a few standouts for the yachting set.
The newly refurbished Barrière Le Majestic Beach has always been a favourite with the well-heeled but it’s even better since 3 Michelin-star chef Mauro Colagreco opened up Bfire in 2019, offering up Italian-Argentinian wood-fired deliciousness to its beach club clientele.
Meanwhile, the ever-popular Barrière Le Gray d’Albion Beach has been overhauled to become the Mademoiselle Gray Plage Barriere, offering gourmet cuisine and a fun, bohemian vibe.
La Plage du Martinez is the quintessential blue and white Mediterranean dream, and continues to be the place to be seen year-on-year in Cannes. Charter guests with children will be warmly welcomed on weekends with the Family Beach Brunch.
La Mome Plage was a breakout newcomer to the Cannes beach club scene in 2015, proving they could go toe-to-toe with the established players.
11. Michelin Stars
Cannes rolls out the red carpet for gourmands, with an impressive list of fine dining restaurants. As with the city’s day spas, the very best are found in the grounds of Cannes’ most sumptuous hotels. The most sought-after table in town is at the 2 starred La Palme d’Or at Hotel Martinez, where creative gastronomy is served up in a spectacular art deco setting. Park 45 at the Grand Hotel is another gastronomic restaurant favoured by the Michelin Guide, with an elegant dining room and an enchanting garden terrace by the sea.
This list represents only a small fraction of the fantastic things to do on a yacht charter in Cannes. The best luxury yacht charters are created with local knowledge, and Bespoke Yacht Charter has a wealth of experience in the Cannes charter scene.