An Insider’s Guide: Exploring Monaco’s Best Kept Secrets

Panorama of the Principality of Monaco

The natural location of Monaco provides the perfect setting; a miniature city set into the hillside, overlooking the glistening Mediterranean Sea, where historic buildings sit side by side with modern Monaco real estate and an impressive collection of mega yachts are moored in the bay between Casino Square and the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

Guards at the Prince's Palace in Monaco

Best known for being a tax haven and playground of the uber rich, Monaco is the smallest country in the world (excluding Vatican City) yet it packs a whole lot into its 2km². Famous landmarks, luxury resorts, exclusive nightlife and a calendar of major events, such as the Rolex Monte Carlo Master’s Tennis tournament, Formula 1® Grand Prix and the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival draw visitors from all over the world to experience the unique location and its glamourous atmosphere.

Casino de Monte-Carlo

Yet Monaco has much more to offer than simply a luxury lifestyle. Step off the beaten track to explore Monaco and you will find a place that the locals love, with plenty of unique sights and experiences to take you from morning until night, without venturing onto the tourist circuit.

Local History 

Enjoy a gentle stroll through the colourful, pedestrian streets of Monaco-Ville, Monaco’s old town located high on a headland and home to the Prince’s Palace. Pause for coffee in one of the many welcoming cafes, or take in the impressive and beautifully preserved architecture in Le Rocher, where on Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette the homes date back to the 16th Century. 

Old houses in narrow street in Monaco

Regional Delicacies

In La Condamine, the daily market is open from 6am until 2pm and offers a range of stalls selling regional produce, while at the indoor food court it is possible to sample the renowned barbajuan, a kind of giant ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, cheese and meat, most often served as an appetizer. You will also find truffle pasta and socca, a traditional flatbread made with chickpea flour, originating from the neighbouring city of Nice.

Barbajuan - a regional speciality of Monaco

Terrace with a View

If you’re keen to hang out with the locals, head for Club Bouliste du Rocher, situated above the port at the Fort Antoine gardens. There you can experience a game of pétanque and a cold beer on the terrace at the small restaurant which offers a panoramic view of the city. Looking back across the port, the vista features part of the Grand Prix circuit, from the tunnel under the Fairmont Monte-Carlo and the Nouvelle Chicane towards the piscine, making it a fantastic spot from which to observe the race action, even if you’re not fortunate enough to have a ticket. Just don’t forget your binoculars!

View over Port Hercule from Le Rocher in Monaco

Escape the Crowds

Below the popular Oceanographic Museum is the secluded Fisherman Cove. This hidden gem is reached via narrow steps leading down to a shallow, shingle beach and the cool, clear waters of the Mediterranean. Rarely occupied by more than a handful of Monegasque locals, it offers a peaceful suntrap and respite from the vibrant city. 

Blue Mediterranean sea in Monaco

Japanese Gardens

If the beach doesn’t appeal, there are several gardens in Monaco that can provide a sense of escape and the chance to absorb natural beauty amidst the backdrop of the bustling city; the Princess Grace Rose Garden is probably the most traditional, while the Jardin Exotique de Monaco the most famous, but just a short walk from the centre is the lesser known, but no less beautiful Japanese Gardens. This Japanese-inspired garden strictly adheres to Zen principles, seamlessly harmonising stone, water and vegetation in the most serene and tranquil setting.

The Japanese garden in Monaco

Evening Entertainment

Not all evening entertainment in Monaco is about the glitz and glamour. For something a little more low-key, during July and August, those in-the-know head for the Monaco Open Air cinema behind the Oceanographic Museum. Here it is possible to spend a balmy summer evening watching the latest movie blockbuster with a glass of chilled rosé from the comfort of a cushioned lounge chair, as seagulls fly overhead and the sound of the sea rises from the rocks below.

Monaco open air cinema

From morning until night Monaco has something to offer for those keen to follow the path less travelled. If you are keen to explore the real Monaco, you’ll quickly come to appreciate the uniqueness of this compact principality as observed through the eyes of the locals.

Portofino Yacht Charter Guide

Portofino panorama of the port

The Italian Riviera is north-western Italy’s coastal showcase, a place where the Ligurian Alps meet the Apennines with a dash of la dolce vita and a well-deserved reputation alluring yachts to one of the most popular yachting hotspots in the Mediterranean, Portofino.

Decades of tourism have ensured that the beauty of the Cinque Terre and Portofino rank highly on places you need to visit and the entire coastline has bewitched royalty, writers and celebrities who have been drawn to the Mediterranean climate, beautiful towns and the blend of old and new.

Waterfront villas in Portofino, Italy

There’s no denying the appeal of Portofino, tucked into a sheltered inlet surrounded by colourful buildings and olive-clad terraces it has been grabbing headlines and attracting the international jet set for decades.

In the height of peak season, the town morphs into Italy’s version of Saint-Tropez, however if you’re looking for Champagne-spraying nightclubs and hedonistic beach clubs you’ve come to the wrong place.

Superyachts in Portofino

Many visitors to Portofino don’t venture beyond the harbour and Piazzetta (small square), but renting a yacht on the Italian Riviera will introduce you to places of quiet beauty – especially in spring or autumn, ornate villas hidden amongst the trees and gorgeous scenery with romantic restaurants sandwiched between the mountains and sea.

Portofino is not off-the-beaten path, however it’s possible to escape the crowds of day trippers and celebrities who visit Portofino for one day.

Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Italy

Read this Guide to Yacht Charters in Portofino to discover the best things to see and do while on a Portofino yacht charter, where you can discover some of the celebrated highlights and the charter spots less visited amidst the surrounding attractions of the Gulf of Tigullio.

SaveSave

Chartering a yacht on the French Riviera

Superyachts in the Port of Monaco

Does the French Riviera live up to its glamorous reputation? The simple answer is, yes! Yes it does. Especially if you’re exploring on board a luxury yacht. From cocktails aboard your fly deck and cosmopolitan bars to quaint towns and lavender fields, this destination truly has everything and you’ll never want to leave.

Yacht Charter on the French Riviera 

Yacht charter with Incrediblue allows you to broaden your horizons and makes sailing more accessible around the world, as you are no longer limited to one yacht type or destination. So where better to start than in the stunning French Riviera? Also known as Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the Southeast corner of France, also including Monaco. There is no official boundary, but we generally consider it to extend from Cassis or Toulon or Saint-Tropez located on the West to France-Italy border in the East, where the Italian Riviera joins.

Yacht cruising off St Tropez, France

Where to start

You have heard of Nice and Cannes right? Well that’s just a couple more of the towns that make up this beautiful stretch of paradise on earth. When is comes to yacht charter you’re truly spoilt for choice of where to start your adventure. A popular route is to begin in Monaco, before heading to Nice and then onto St Tropez.

Selecting your own charter yacht

Selecting your own yacht on the French Riviera is easy with the help of a highly experienced team such as Incrediblue, who will be happy to understand and ensure your every need is catered for. As you will have a crew on board you can discuss meals plans with the chef  and also the perfect route with the ckipper before you set sail for the time of your life.

Monaco

Prepare to be amazed by the sheer beauty of the gleaming superyachts lined up in Monaco harbour. If you’re lucky enough to be there during an event such as the Monaco Grand Prix, you will not only enjoy the electric atmosphere but you can also gawp at more amazing yachts that will appear throughout. There were in fact over €2 billion worth of yachts attending the Grand Prix in 2016.

Monaco Grand Prix

Nice

Any trip to the French Riviera should begin with a stop in Nice. The Port of Nice is the perfect place to moor your yacht overnight and enjoy a traditional light dinner such as salade niçoise made by your personal on board chef. If you would like to hit the town you will not be dissapointed. Especially during the summer season, nightlife is in abundance and offers many options for after dark enthusiasts.

The view from Castle Hill in Nice, France

In the morning you will appreciate the sparkles reflecting off the warm Mediterranean waters whilst you’re having your breakfast. Whether you’re there for one day or five, be sure to venture up to Castle Hill. The phrase ‘it was worth the climb’ is truly fitting in this instance. The panoramic views of the Baie des Anges are simply to die for. You may also want to visit Nice’s famous lavender fields, the verdant park which is the perfect spot to take a picnic, or simply just relax and watch the world go by before boarding your yacht again and moving onto the next divine destination.

Cannes

Home to the rich and famous, Cannes should definitely be on your bucket list. With its sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and 5* restaurants there is plenty to see and do.

Beach in Cannes, France

To add to Cannes’ glamour, this destination is very well known for the international film festival that occurs here once per year in May. If there is any event with the potential to dethrone the Oscars than this is it. If you’re lucky enough to be around during the festival you will be guaranteed to spot some famous faces strutting their stuff down the red carpet.

Lérins Islands

A short sail away from Cannes you will embark upon the Lérins Islands. The Lérins Islands are a group of four Mediterranean islands off the French Riviera, in Cannes. The two largest islands in this group are the Île Sainte-Marguerite and the Île Saint-Honorat. Here you will get away from the hustle and bustle of busy life and have the opportunity to relax in the ambience of tranquility. The islands are full of undisturbed beauty with small wild beaches and secret coves you could spend hours exploring. The panoramic views and sparkling turquoise blue waters are guaranteed to take your breath away.

The Lerins Islands in Cannes, France

If your yachting trip happens to fall on July 14th, try and spend the evening here to enjoy the famous firework night.

St Tropez

On your way to St Tropez be sure to soak up not only the sun but the best views of the French Riviera. It sounds only right to have a margarita in your hand whilst you enjoy these truly blissful few hours of cruising through the crystal waters. If you are coming directly from Nice it will take approximately 3 hours but if you want to take any detours you can discuss this with your captain. It might be a nice idea to stop and take a swim. If you have a diving instructor on board you should take advantage of the experience. The Mediterranean is home to some of the most colourful and interesting underwater life.

View over the Old Port of St Tropez

Upon arrival in St Tropez you will notice how big and vibrant this port is. With a capacity of 734 moorings there is definitely plenty of space for any size yacht. St Tropez is well known for its innovation and quality services, making it one of the most famous marinas in the world.

The height of St Tropez’ popularity comes from the 9 day regatta occuring once a year, known as “Voiles de Saint Tropez”. It begins here at the foot of the Portalet tower and bypasses the Nioulargue buoy before returning to the port. Over the duration of 9 day regatta, 300 of the finest yachts from around the world are brought together and it is a sight not to be missed!

Senequier cafe in St Tropez, France

If coffee is your thing you absolutely MUST not miss out on the famous espresso made in the even more famous bar that is Senequier. Whilst enjoying ‘the best French coffee known to man’ you can enjoy watching artists painting people or landscapes around the ports.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Golf on a French Riviera Yacht Charter

The Old Course golf course at Mandelieu on the French Riviera

There are few places on earth better-suited to a golfing yacht charter than the French Riviera. With an abundance of historic, challenging, and downright swanky courses along the Cote d’Azur, the South of France really is a golfer’s paradise.

And what better way to experience the golf courses of the French Riviera than on a luxury yacht charter? You won’t have to swap hotels, carrying luggage and golfing gear, as you make your way along the coast, on a charter yacht your ‘hotel’ moves with you! This is a golfing holiday, done right.

Golf de Saint Donat in the south of France

Imagine getting a group of your golfing buddies together for a 10-day jaunt down the French Riviera on a superyacht, stopping at world-class golf courses along the way.

With views of the Mediterranean and the Alps and old hunting estates among the pines, it will be near-impossible to have a bad game. And even if you do spend half the day in the bunkers, there’s plenty of fine restaurants, watersports, and beach clubs along the Riviera to cheer you up! You might even bring a pro-golfing instructor along on your charter to radically improve your game over the duration of the charter.

Read Full Article

 

“Sea and Ski” Yacht Charters on the French Riviera

Sea and ski yacht charters on the French Riviera

When planning a holiday, you normally have to choose between snow and sand, mountain and beach, chalet and superyacht. Not on the French Riviera in spring—one of the few locations on earth where you can enjoy a sea and ski yacht charter.

In the south of France, Alpine ski fields are in close proximity to warm, sunny beaches. The French Riviera is famously known as a destination where you can be hurtling down fresh powder in the morning, only to find yourself relaxing in a Cannes beach club in the afternoon, enjoying the spring sunshine as you drink rose with your feet in the sand.

A yacht charter than involves snow skiing and beach clubs, art galleries and opera, Michelin-star dining and hill villages, après ski and boutique shopping.

Sunshine, calm seas, and snow. Where else but spring on the French Riviera?

 

Read More: Sea and Ski : Spring Yacht Charters on the French Riviera

A Luxury Yacht Vacation to Explore the Stunning French Riviera

Superyachts in Cannes on the French Riviera

The epitome of luxury and glamour, the French Riviera is the ultimate hotspot if you are looking forward to a plush holiday. Locally known as the “Côte d’Azur”, the beautiful Mediterranean coastline has always drawn tourists from all over the world for its stunning natural splendor, breezy climate, beach fun and dazzling lifestyle. From Cannes to Monaco to Nice – some of the most coveted destinations fall along the French Riviera coastline. And what better way to explore this gorgeous location than with a luxury yacht vacation?

There are a myriad of luxury yacht services available to cruise around French Riviera. Decked up in plush amenities, with splendid décor and stellar hospitality, these yachts will take you to all the prime hotspots of the coastline. You can book a luxury yacht charter for a day, a week or more.

Mangusta 130 yacht for charter in Port Canto, Cannes, France

Here is a brief summary of the different amazing locations you will be covering on your luxury yacht vacation along the French Riviera.

Cannes

The paradise of glitz and glamour, Cannes is your place for that coveted a-la-Hollywood style holiday. From lavish boutiques to electrifying nightclubs to sandy beaches to even antique cobbled streets – Cannes has everything to leave you in awe and amazement. To make things more special, tourists often prefer luxury car hire services to explore the city like a star. There are several luxury car hire services available here to help in renting a Porsche in Cannes or other luxury marques like Audi or Mercedes.

View of Cannes, France

Saint Tropez

After Cannes, your next stop will possibly be St Tropez. It’s a small quaint town lined up with some of the best restaurants in the world and a very vibrant nightlife scene in the summer season. The hub of the rich & famous, St Tropez will often have you stumbling upon celebs at almost every turn. And yes, St. Tropez is also the location of the most loved beach along the coastline – Pampelonne Beach. Complement your St Tropez trip with a stunning tan on the beach followed by unforgettable champagne lunch at one of the legendary beach clubs.

Helicopters over Port of St Tropez

Porquerolles Island

If you wish to experience the unspoilt natural splendor of the famous French Riviera, the island of Porquerolles is sure to win you with its stunning scenery. The place is great for water sports followed by a relaxing lunch and an after swimming. Although not as luxurious as the other more famous locations along the coastline, this lovely island is still home to some fabulous restaurants.

Beach on Porquerolles, south of France

Monaco

Monaco is certainly one of the most coveted destinations on any French Riviera cruise. Rich in royal history, the city-state is always a great tourist draw with its Prince Palace,  designer boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants and of course the legendary casinos for which the Principality is so well known.

Ferraris in Casino Square, Monaco

Nice

No luxury holiday on the Cote d’Azur is complete without a stay in Nice. A magnificent blend of quintessential French charm and revered Italian class, the famous city and capital of the region is a treat to both the eye and the heart. You will love its buzzing boutique restaurants, while Nice’s bars and cafes command a unique elegance of their own. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities for various water sports like snorkelling, diving, swimming and much more.

Baie des Anges in Nice, France

Wishing you a fabulous luxury yacht charter on the French Riviera!

SaveSave

MIPIM 2018 Preview

MIPIM events on the beach in Cannes

MIPIM 2018 will be hosted in Cannes from 13–16 March 2018 and continues as one of the world’s largest events for global property professionals.

MIPIM party at the Carlton hotel in Cannes, France

Hosted at the Palais des Festivals, which is a key venue for other major Cannes events including Cannes Lions, Cannes Film Festival and MAPIC, over 24,000 participants will be inspired and make new discoveries during four days of intensive networking, conferences about property trends and the MIPIM Awards.

Read all about it in this Guide: MIPIM 2018 :  Mapping World Urbanity

The 5 Best Sporting Events in Monaco

Cars lined up at the Monte Carlo Rally

Sibuet Benjamin – Shutterstock.com

The Principality of Monaco has long attracted those with a penchant for sporting excitement, hosting an action-packed sporting calendar that boasts illustrious events of historic prestige. From F1 racing drivers to internationally acclaimed tennis stars, many sporting greats choose to live and train in Monaco and are attracted by the prospect of a Mediterranean lifestyle and a spectacular sporting infrastructure. It seems that the glamour of the region is fuelled by its sporting activity. We spoke to Laurent Locchi – a Property Negotiator at Miells & Partners, a sports enthusiast, and a resident of Monaco – to find out which sporting events are most eagerly anticipated in the Principality.

The Rolex Masters

With such a glitzy name, the Rolex Masters is one sporting event that is right at home amidst the renowned glamour of Monaco. Having celebrated its 100th birthday back in 2006, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters is the first of three ATP World Tour Masters that is held on clay courts. It is a renowned favourite of both fans and players alike. Taking place at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, the event welcomes many champions from across the world – most notably Rafael Nadal, the winner of a record eight successive titles.

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters at Monte-Carlo Country Club, Principality of Monaco

Laurent says: “It might not offer the Pimms and lemonade of Wimbledon, but sunshine and cocktails more than make up for it.”

The Monte Carlo Rally

Officially dubbed the ‘Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo’ but commonly referred to as the Monte Carlo Rally, this high-octane race is an annual event that is organised by the Automobile Club de Monaco. The rally leaves Monaco’s iconic casino each January, before snaking through the Alps and culminating in the Principality’s Port Hercules. Devised by Prince Albert I back in 1911, the event has long been a means of demonstrating the grandeur and innovation of the automobile world.

Monte Carlo rally in the snow

Laurent says: “Expect drama, excitement, and adrenaline-inducing action.”

AS Monaco Football Club

Commonly known as AS Monaco, this Monegasque football club is one of the most well-known in the world. Founded in 1924, the club competes in the equivalent of the UK’s premiership – Ligue 1 in France. The club’s home is in the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille, Monaco – a standout stadium that’s certainly worth a visit. Each week, the Principality of Monaco attracts football enthusiasts from across France, each of whom leaves with widened eyes and a satiating dose of sporting fun. One of the most successful clubs in France (it competes in the French league even though it is based in the Principality), the team has won eight league titles in its time, plus five Coupe de France trophies.

AS Monaco football club

Laurent says: “One might say the club’s silverware brings even more glamour to Monaco.”

Monte Carlo International Show Jumping

Home to one of the most difficult show jumping courses in the world, this international equestrian event has long attracted the world’s top-ranking riders. Occupying the pride of place in Monaco’s Port Hercules, the arena is set in a scenic spot and makes for a memorable experience. The defining feature of the unique course is that it is very short, extremely narrow, and filled with all sorts of tricky twists and turns. All riders must possess a high level of agility and technique to succeed, not to mention a high level of skill from the horse itself.

Monte Carlo International Show Jumping

Laurent says: “This show is exceptionally exciting to watch, for both horseriding enthusiasts and those with no experience.”

 The Monaco Formula One

Last but far from least is the famous Monaco Grand Prix – the most intriguing, prestigious and challenging course for the majority of racing drivers. But what is required to win? Well, precision driving, technical excellence, and a large dose of bravery are all said to be requirements of any driver attempting this difficult course. Experts say that the Monaco circuit leaves no margin for error, more so than any other Formula One track in the circuit. Look out for the Tunnel Larvotto – one of the few straight sections of the track and arguably the most iconic sights in Formula One racing. Monaco has been a regular fixture of the Grand Prix circuit since 1955, with very few changes made to the circuit over the years.

Monaco Grand Prix

Laurent says: “If you’re into events such as these and if you’re not, don’t miss out – the Monaco Grand Prix is a Principality-altering event that sparks parties, events, and celebration.”

SaveSave

Monaco Oceanographic Museum

Monaco Oceanographic Museum

The Oceanographic Museum (Musée Océanographique de Monaco) is one of the most visited Marine Science museums in Europe, occupying 6,500m2 of exhibition zones.

Built on the cliffside 85 metres above the sea, the museum is one of Monaco’s top attractions and home to over 350 fish species and 6000 specimens including rare or endangered marine life.

We share our Ultimate Guide below to visiting the spectacular Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, known as the Temple of the Sea.

Read More: The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco – The Ultimate Guide

SaveSave

Winter on the French Riviera

Antibes and the snow covered Alps with the Mediterranean sea in the foreground

A scant 100 years ago, the idea of visiting the French Riviera in the summertime was unheard of in polite society, who deemed the South of France in July and August to be far too hot and bothersome.

Instead, the first-class trains and ornate horse-drawn carriages would start to arrive as the weather cooled and the first snows fell on the Alps, delivering queens and tsars, dukes and duchesses, writers and artists for a glittering winter season of parties and operas and promenading under the palms.

The Duke of Windsor in Cap d'Antibes, France

In winter at the turn of the 19th century, the Cote d’Azur was the centre of the fashionable world. In summer, the carriages departed, and the opulent villas and belle époque hotels were shuttered up once more until the haze of summer cleared and the sea again held its enchanting winter sparkle.

And that’s how the Riviera stayed—a resolutely wintertime resort— until the 1920’s, when New York socialites, Gerard and Sarah Murphy, convinced the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc to keep a wing open for them for a summer. After buying a nearby villa the next year, they invited friends F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway for decadent, endless summers of jumping off the rocks into the sea, fabulous parties, and long boozy lunches under the shade of pine trees that buzzed with cicadas.

Read more: The French Riviera in Winter : A Return to Winter Sun and Elegance

A White, Icy and Sparkly Christmas

Glasses of champagne

Inspired by the beauty of the recent snowfalls, I started thinking of a white Christmas. With all the rich heavy food around, a crisp clean white wine is a refreshing tonic. Looking at three varieties in very different styles to give a harmonious theme to a meal and enough diversity to accompany a meal.

Starting off with a Blanquette de Limoux, traditionally held to be the oldest sparkling wine, created by the 16th century monks at the Abbey of St Hilaire in the Pyrenees. This gentle fizz, such as that from Domaine de Peyret, has crisp acidity from a blend of high altitude vineyards with three varieties: Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.

Limoux sparkling wines

The crisp apple-fruit flavours of Mauzac can also be found further north in the vineyards of Gaillac. But looking for something that extra bit special, try the old vine, oak-fermented and aged Mauzac from Clos Rocailleux. Crisp, tart apple fruit with a hint of biscuit toastiness.

Chardonnay is a variety par excellence for the range of styles it can offer. To accompany any rich meat course, an oaked buttery and ripe fruit Burgundian Chardonnay has both the power and acidity to offer. The 2014 vintage has beautiful balance. Domaine Leflaive’s Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru is rich and intense while Domaine Raveneau’s Valmur Grand Cru has elegant minerality with floral hints for a slightly less rich meal. Both with great ageing potential.

Domaine Leflaive’s Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru

Champagne might not be everyone’s first choice to accompany the cheese course, but Stefanie Köhler of Cuvée magazine recently conducted a mammoth cheese and wine report for her latest Champagne edition (www.cuvee-magazine.com/shop). She suggested three blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay): Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs with Cantal Entre-Deux, Champagne AR Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 1996 (recently released) Demi-Sec with an extra-old Mimolette or Champagne Gimonnet Blanc de Blancs Brut with a Chaource.

Champagne Delamotte

To finish off with a dessert wine, a rich, botrytized wine made with Chenin Blanc has all the fresh acidity typical of the variety, much needed at the end of a rich festive meal. The Loire vineyards of Coteaux du Layon and Bonnezeaux, sloping down to the Layon river, produce high quality, elegant and luscious sweet wines. Domaine des Petits Quarts from Bonnezeaux, has rich baked quince, honey, ripe apricots and dried fruit.

Domaine des Petits Quarts Bonnezeaux

This article was written for French Riviera Luxury by Elizabeth Gabay MW – A long-time lover of the wines of southern France, and based in the hills behind Nice, Elizabeth is currently immersed in all things rosé for a forthcoming book on pink wines around the world. Other passions are the wines of Hungary, the Mediterranean, unusual grape varieties and history. She writes about for various journals and websites, including her own – www.elizabethgabay.com

SaveSave

SaveSave

Winter Tipples on the French Riviera : Where to Enjoy Vin Chaud and Other Wintery Treats

Vin Chaud

Winter on the French Riviera is an absolute delight, as the summer crowds thin out, the snow gathers on the Alps behind the coast, and the landscape is covered in a vivid yellow carpet of mimosa flowers.

Whether it’s a crisp blue sky day with endless views of sparkling sea, or a blustery afternoon where the palm trees bend and wave along the seafront at Cannes, there’s nothing quite as lovely as warming up after a walk with a steaming cup of vin chaud, a mug of rich hot chocolate, or a paper cone full of roasted chestnuts.

Roasting chestnuts on open flame

And with the Cote d’Azur lighting up with Christmas markets, and the ski resorts within easy reach of the coast, the French Riviera offers a winter experience with just the right amount of joie de vivre.

Here are some delicious wintry drinks and treats to enjoy in France, as well as a few select places to enjoy them.

Vin Chaud

Whether you want to call it vin chaud, mulled wine, or gluhwein, the fact remains: the first sip of this warm red wine spiced with cloves and cinnamon is pure Christmas in a glass.

Mulled wine in the pan

And on the French Riviera, there are so many places to enjoy this wintery beverage!

Christmas Markets

Is there anything more festive than wandering around a brightly-lit Christmas market on a dark winter’s night, cold air on your face and a warm cup of mulled wine in your hand? We think not. Wonderful Christmas markets spring up all along the French Riviera in the wintertime, as well as in the pretty hill villages behind the coast. The Christmas markets at Nice and Antibes even have a giant Ferris wheel on site, giving dizzying views across the city, sea and mountains.

Christmas market in Valbonne on the French Riviera

All of these Christmas markets have pretty little Christmas stalls with pitched rooves dusted in fake snow, their stallholders wrapped up tight in scarves dishing out steaming cups of vin chaud—as well as other warming treats like roasted chestnuts wrapped in paper, gooey Nutella crepes, and unbelievably moreish slices of socca sprinkled with pepper and wrapped in tinfoil.

Making crepes

The Christmas markets (and the yummy food and drink to be found at them) is one of the best things about a winter holiday in the South of France. Every time you drink mulled wine in future, you’ll be instantly transported back to that holiday feeling of winter on the French Riviera.

Local Cafés and Bars

If you’re looking for vin chaud outside the Christmas market experience, our best tip is to go local. Find a café or bar displaying the sign ‘maison vin chaud’, which means they make the drink in house. Perhaps even more importantly, look for a bustling café full of locals, because you want a busy place where the vin chaud isn’t allowed to get old, as it becomes bitter when it’s reheated.

Vin Chaud in French cafe

Besides, the experience of walking into a warm, noisy French café on a cold winter’s day and taking a table to watch the comings and goings is so utterly French that you really can’t miss it when on holiday! Avoid the sophisticated bars aimed at tourists and go somewhere with a bit of local heart and colour if you can.

In Antibes, try one of the cheap and cheerful local bars up near the market, or Le Vieil Antibes café by the fountain on Rue Republique. In Cannes, you might like to enjoy the cosy atmosphere of 72 Croisette, sipping vin chaud as you look out across the boulevard to the superyachts in the port. In Nice, Bistrot Chaud Vin really ought to be a winner for mulled wine given the name, and in Monaco, try the unpretentious Monte Carlo Bar in La Condamine, any time of day or night.

Ski Resorts 

One of the most incredible aspects of a winter holiday on the French Riviera is the proximity to the ski-fields, with the closest ski resorts only an hour away. And vin chaud is an unmissable part of the French ski field experience!

You might like to stop at one of the mountain terraces for a steaming cup of the mulled wine between ski runs, or get into the spirit of things with an après ski session, with hot mugs of vin chaud, spiked hot chocolate, or shots of schnapps warming up the chill in your bones.

Panoramic Alpine Ski View

Of the ski resorts within 2 hours of Nice airport, Isola 2000 has the most bars and nightlife if you want to get into the après ski spirit after a brisk day on the slopes, but you’ll find that all the ski fields in the area offer vin chaud and a welcoming buzz in the evenings.

Again, the key is to look for a busy place that won’t let the vin chaud sit around for long enough to get bitter!

Hot Chocolate

The first question you must decide on: what is your perfect hot chocolate? Is it the powdered stuff you have at home, laden with marshmallows? Or is it French hot chocolate, with its dark and silken combination of real bitter chocolate and milk? Or perhaps your idea of perfect hot chocolate is Italian, which is so thick and gooey you can almost stand your spoon up in it?

Chocolat chaud in French hotel

You can find all three kinds of hot chocolate on the French Riviera, all coming under the title of ‘chocolat chaud’. You’ll generally find the powdered cocoa version at your cheaper cafes, but we urge you towards the decadent drinking chocolate experience to be found at the finer establishments of the Riviera.

Famous Luxury Hotels

Drinking top quality hot chocolate in one of the world’s most opulent hotels is not a bad way to spend a leisurely hour or two. A hot chocolate at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco is a memorable, refined affair, as is the hot chocolate served during high tea at the glamorous Hotel Carlton Intercontinental.

Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Chocolatiers

Perhaps the very best hot chocolate, however, is to visit one the French chocolatiers along the Riviera, whose thick delicious concoctions are pure bliss on the tastebuds. Jean Luc Pele’ has flagship stores in both Cannes and Antibes, where you can sit in the little nook overlooking the street and drink your hot chocolate and feast on their heavenly pastries and artisan chocolates.

Cafés

As mentioned, many cafés now use cocoa powder in the American or British style, which results in a fairly thin, not particularly chocolatey drink. If you’re looking for thick, Italian style chocolate while on holiday, one very good option is Caffe Lalu in Cannes, which incidentally, also does very good coffee (not an easy thing to find in France!)

Hot Chocolate in French Cafe

Chocolate Festivals

If you’re visiting the coast in February, you’re guaranteed to get a superb hot chocolate at the Antibes Chocolate Festival, ‘Bread, Love, and Chocolate’, which begins, rather fittingly, on Valentine’s Day. Warm your hands with a hot chocolate and take a wander through the port, where you’ll see crew on deck of the beautiful yachts, beginning to ready them for the spring yacht charters.

Make your own spiked hot chocolate

If your accommodation is self-catering, you can experiment by buying top quality chocolate and milk, with pouring cream to add if you like.

If you’re looking to really get in the spirit, add a glug of alcohol into the mix for a spiked hot chocolate. Boozy hot chocolate is utterly, utterly Christmassy and very warming on a cold night. A splash of dark rum adds a wicked depth, while liquors like Kahlua, Baileys and Amaretto are huge crowd pleasers.

Hot Chocolate

People are getting ever more creative with their spiked hot chocolate creations, whether it’s the recent trend for red wine in hot chocolate, a dash of Guinness, or the magical combination of Nutella and Frangelico for the perfect hazelnut hot choccy.

Other Wintery Drinks to Enjoy in France

A glass of Armagnac, cognac, or calvados will light the fire in your belly, and are perfect tipples for a cold winter’s evening. Whatever your favourite liquor is, we suggest that you head to a bar with an atmosphere of French Riviera glamour, and preferably some classy live music. Think Bar Americain in Monaco, where live jazz and soft armchairs will put you in the mood, the historic bar at Nice’s stunning Hotel Negresco, or the piano bar at Bar l’Amiral at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes.

Bar at Hotel Negresco in Nice, France

If you fancy something a bit more lively and a good sight less salubrious, it’s hard to go past the famous Absinthe Bar in Antibes, where you head downstairs into a vaulted cellar bar festooned with art deco posters and silly hats. Once you take a seat, you’ll choose off a vast absinthe menu, and a glass absinthe fountain is delivered to your table, along with ornate spoons and cubes of sugar. The absinthe is beautifully warming…and very alcoholic. Be warned!

Absinthe Bar in Antibes, France

On some nights there’s a musician playing piano, and this often leads to rowdy sing a-longs and much hat swapping. It’s a fabulous night out, but check before heading there, as winter hours can be wildly undependable.

Of course, there’s also the option of heading to a local café and enjoying a laid back glass of pastis, diluted with just the right amount of water. This is best drunk in a café with a nice warming fug and lots of activity for people watching.

With these decadent warming drinks on the menu, winter on the French Riviera will warm the cockles of your heart. Happy indulging!

Europe’s Best Oysters & What to Drink with Them

Oysters with lemon and ice in France

Christmas is almost upon us, and villages and cities across France are preparing for the seasonal Gallic rush on oysters.

The French have a proud history of oyster growing, with cultivation stretching back to ancient Roman times, and world-beating rates of oyster consumption, eating an impressive 4.4 pounds per person per year—more than anywhere else in Europe.

Of those oysters, 50% are eaten in the single week between Christmas and New Year. Vive la France!

Closeup of oysters in their shells

The French are justifiably proud of their oysters; they are, after all, considered some of the finest on earth. With a shared language of ‘terroir’ and ‘cru’ and descriptive terms like ‘crisp’, ‘buttery’, or ‘fruity’, the French appreciation of oysters goes hand in hand with their appreciation of wine.

But the French are also far from alone in their love and pride of their home grown oysters, with many other countries across the world vying for the title of the world’s best oyster.

Tray of oysters on ice

For those of you celebrating the festive season in Europe, here are a selection of the finest oysters available in Europe this Christmas, as well as what to drink with them.

(N.B. There are many other deserving candidates further afield, such as in Australia, New Zealand and America, but as we know, the freshness of an oyster is paramount, so this list will concentrate on the best of European oyster growers.)

The Finest Oysters in Europe

France

SPECIALES GILLARDEAU

Possibly the most famous oyster of them all are the Speciales Gillardeau, grown by the Gillardeau family near La Rochelle in Western France. Meaty, nutty, firm and savoury, the oysters are grown and carefully tended for four years, and due to their cultivation process are less briny than many other varieties. Known as the ‘Royals Royce’ of oysters, these very fine oysters come at a premium.

Gillardeau Oyster

FINES DE CLAIRE

This sweet, fruity oyster grows in Marenne-Oleron on the west coast of France, the largest oyster growing region in Europe. The crisp fruitiness of the oyster is derived from the way they are cultivated, with a minimum ‘fattening’ period of two months spent in the nutrient-rich water of salty marsh beds. Prized by the Parisians, this delicate oyster is found in fine restaurants around the world.

Fines de Claires oysters

BOUZIGUES

For something deliciously salty and fleshy with a fruity aftertaste, try Bouzigues oysters, which are farmed in a saltwater lake called the Etang de Thau. With a salt water content higher than the sea and no tides to contend with, the oysters grow rapidly and are some of the fleshiest in France. There are both flat (native European) and creased (Pacific rock) varieties cultivated in the lake, some have an almost hazelnut aftertaste, while some are reminiscent of watermelon.

Bouzigues Oysters

Bouzigues may not be able to compete with the above two producers for notoriety, but their name is growing. Besides, oyster preference is an extremely personal thing, and one that does not always correspond with either fame or price tag. Let your tastebuds be your guide!

Spain

DELTA DE L’EBRE, CATALONIA

Located between Barcelona and Valencia in the pristine wetlands of the Delta de l’Ebre National Park, these delicious oysters benefit from the salt water of the Mediterranean and the fresh water of the River Ebro. The resulting oysters are silky in texture, with an addictive sweet-salty flavour.

(Don’t tell the French, but nearly 80% of the oysters here are exported to France and many are then sold in France and internationally under a French label. Tut, tut.)

Ireland

KELLY GALWAY

While most French oysters are now Pacific Oysters, the Kelly Galway native oyster is an extremely fine example of the native flat European oyster that used to be prevalent in France, before disease and overconsumption almost entirely wiped them out.

The Kelly Galway is a very large oyster grown in wild oyster fisheries along Ireland’s West Coast, before being moved to oyster beds to fatten and develop their flavour, giving them the flavour of the Atlantic and the fresh waters of the Clarinbridge and Kilcolgan rivers. Due to their unique taste, their longer maturation (up to 6 years), as well as their relative scarcity compared to the Pacific oyster, the native Kelly Galway oysters are prized by connoisseurs and chefs alike.

Scotland

LOCH RYAN

Julius Caesar claimed that Scotland’s Loch Ryan oysters were ‘the best in the world’, or so the story goes. Whether true or apocryphal, these are some mighty fine oysters, famed for their tangy, lingering flavour.

Like Kelly Galways, Loch Ryans are native oysters of the European variety, and they have been grown by the Wallace family since 1701, when King William II gave the family the rights to harvest the beds.

As the only oyster fishery still operating in Scotland, and a very slow maturation time of up to 8 years, the Loch Ryan oysters are a true delicacy to savour over Christmas and New Year.

What to Drink with Your Oysters

The general rule for oysters is the accompanying beverage must be crisp, and it must be dry. For white wines, they should be young rather than aged as complexity competes with the oyster flavour, and only the very bravest attempt red wine, although some spirits and stouts can be excellent choices.

A glass of white wine with some oysters

As mentioned above, there’s a language of ‘terroir’ and ‘crus’ that accompanies oysters, particularly in the French oyster industry, and some of the very best pairings are when an oyster is paired with a local wine, particularly in regions where the soil the vines are grown in was once seabed, and therefore rich in marine sediment.

Here are a few superb pairings for your oyster feast this Christmas:

Champagne and Sparkling Wine: Sparkles and Salt are a Match Made in Heaven.

The crisp, acidic flavour of dry sparkling wines- whether prosecco, cava, or any other iteration, work splendidly with oysters, cutting through the creaminess of the meat and singing with the salinity.

However, the reigning champion must always be true Champagne from the Champagne region, partly because it is grown in soil which is rich in marine sediments and chalky notes, creating a magnificent mineral, almost saline partnership with the salty oysters.

Billecart Salmon Brut Champagne bottle

Go for a Brut (dry), bright, citrusy, non-vintage champagne. This is an occasion where you don’t need to fork out hundreds for a bottle of Cristal- and in fact shouldn’t, as the complexity of a vintage champagne will only compete and clash with the oyster’s flavour profile.

A Brut Blanc de Blanc (100% chardonnay) is a very good choice, such as either Pierre Gimonnet Premier Cru Brut NV, or Chapuy Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

Outside the Champagne region, a bottle of Cremant de Limoux will go down very nicely.

White Wine: Chablis and Sancerre, if you please.

The best white wine pairings for oysters are cool-climate, high-acidity wines grown in mineral-rich soils. Make it a young wine, as you’ll again run into the pesky complexity clash with older vintages, and don’t overchill, or you’ll ruin the flavour.

Chablis is one of the finest choices, as its chardonnay grapes are grown in soil that was once the ocean floor, lending it a flinty, racy, palate cleansing acidity which complements the oysters of that region supremely. A bottle of Domaine Servin Chablis Premiere Cuvee les Pargues could be just the drop.

Domaine Servin Chablis 1er Cru wine

Sancerre is another excellent pairing. Coming from the Loire Valley, this cool climate wine is grown on an ancient sea bed known as the Paris basin, and its bracing acidity, citrus notes, and mineral profile matches exceedingly well with oysters. The Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre does nicely here.

For other strong white wine accompaniments, a very dry Muscadet from the Loire Valley promises a clean and crisp flavour profile, while a dry German Riesling is outstanding with meatier, creamier oysters. You can very rarely go wrong with a Pouilly Fuisse when eating oysters, or a pale, crisp Provencal rose could also be considered.

Sherry: dry, dry sherry. 

Not sickly sweet stuff, but the desperately dry Manzanilla, which delivers acidity, crispness and salinity in droves.

Spirits: Gin Martini, up with a twist. 

Its lovely cucumber notes make Hendricks Gin a standout for oyster accompaniments, but any good gin will do. Whether you’re fancying a gin and tonic, or a shaken martini, the marriage between gin and oysters is a thing of beauty.

Hendrick's Gin is ideal with oysters

Bartenders are getting creative with their martini and oyster collaborations; some now make martinis with an actual oyster thrown in there to take place of the vermouth, while others pop the oyster’s own salty, delicious juice in there to take the traditional olive’s ‘dirty’ role.

Beer: Guinness is Good for…Eating Oysters

Some say a crisp, dry pilsner is just the ticket, but the Irish beg to differ. They’ve drunk malty, creamy stout with their oysters for generations, and it works surprisingly well with the salty hit of the oysters. The famous advertising slogan for Guinness ‘Guinness is good for you’ rings true in this case, but Murphy’s or your preferred Irish Stout will be just as good.

Guinness advert with oysters

So now that you know which oysters you want, and which drink to pair them with, it’s time to join the oyster rush in time for Christmas. Expect some competition, as for the French, getting the best oysters is somewhat of a national sport. Sharpen your elbows, grab your shucker, and join the fray!

Merry oyster season!

Monte-Carlo Music Masters showcases outstanding musical talents

Monte-Carlo Music Masters festival

Each year the Principality of Monaco plays host to a unique musical event, which showcases some of the most accomplished and celebrated musicians in the world. The Monte-Carlo Music Masters is a renowned annual competition that was founded by Jean-Marie Fournier and first took place in Monaco in 1992.

In October of each year, music lovers flock to Monte Carlo from every corner of the globe in order to attend the various rounds of this breathtaking musical contest. One of the very best ways for musical aficionados to experience this superb event is by staying in their very own villa for rent near Monaco. When you rent a luxury villa on the French Riviera, in close proximity to Monte Carlo, at this time of year, you’re able to not only enjoy the many sophisticated pleasures of this perpetually sun-drenched coastline, but you’re also only a short and convenient hop away from one of the globe’s most exciting musical competitions.

The Salle des Etoiles concert venue in Monaco

The Monte-Carlo Music Masters sets forth several distinctive regulations that inevitably elevate the quality and standards of the musicians that compete here and the music they produce. One of these rules allows only musicians who have already won other competitions in the past to participate in the Monte-Carlo Music Masters.

Another unorthodox specification of this illustrious competition is that, each successive year, the Monte-Carlo Music Masters focuses on only one discipline, alternating between piano, violin or voice, so as to be certain to devote the requisite amount of attention and focus that each musical category deserves. In turn, this particular quirk benefits those spectators or fans who have a specific affinity for any of these three musical specialties. So, fans of the violin can choose to attend the Monte-Carlo Violin Masters and get completely carried away by the strains of their favourite compositions.

Monte-Carlo Voice Masters 2017

In 2017, it was the turn of the singers to compete at the Monte-Carlo Music Masters. Those blessed with magnificent voices travelled to Monaco from all around the planet to compete, to offer their very best operatic arias and to try and earn the coveted €30,000 Prince Rainier III Prize. The riveting elimination rounds of this year’s event were no doubt as gruelling for the competitors to participate in, as they were compelling for those gathered to watch.

Winner of Monte-Carlo Voice Masters 2017

In the thrilling final, which took place on Saturday the 14th of October at the Auditorium Rainier III, two South Korean singers duelled musically. Eventually it was Gil Byeong-Min who prevailed and earned the title of winner of the Monte-Carlo Voice Masters 2017.

However, there’s an argument to be made that the true winners on this day (and indeed throughout the entire competition) were the music lovers fortunate enough to attend, and witness the incredible levels of vocal virtuosity that were on display at this year’s Monte-Carlo Voice Masters.

The Principality of Monaco by night

If you’d like to find out what it feels like to listen to some of the world’s best musicians, all at the top of their games, competing against one another, then you should plan on attending the Monte-Carlo Music Masters 2018 by renting a luxury villa on the French Riviera.

SaveSave

Exploring the 5 Senses on a French Riviera Yacht Charter

Aft deck on Pershing 115 yacht MISTRAL 55

A South of France yacht charter is a feast for the senses. There are certain sights and smells, sounds, touches and tastes that epitomize long summer days on the French Riviera. Float along the coast, savouring the breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped Alps and red rock edged by turquoise sea, the cool smell of pine forest and the sleepy sound of buzzing cicadas. Close your eyes enjoy the lap of water on the hull, the fragrance of lavender in the markets, the feel of your toes sinking into soft sand. Remember the water that sparkles in that mythical Provencal light, the sharp tang of salt in the air, and blue-green coves of perfect clarity. As your charter yacht floats along the coastline from Monaco to St Tropez, you will be transported into a sensory dream. Here are some of the experiences that will delight your five senses on a French Riviera yacht charter.

Read More: Exploring the 5 Senses on a South of France Yacht Charter

Ultimate Luxury on Land and Water

Ferrari tour on the French Riviera at Gorges du Verdon

Our planet is no doubt blessed with a myriad of breathtakingly stunning scenery, but very few places compare to the luxurious blend of vintage luxury and enchanting landscapes that is the French Riviera and its legendary sun-drenched beaches. This delightfully sculpted scenery which stretches from St. Tropez up until the French-Italian border is an avalanche of hospitality; complete with sandy beaches, blue seas (and skies), trendy shopping stores and exclusive boutiques. Dazzling with historic vineyards, extravagant chateaus, and calm waters transcended by traversing yachts, the French Riviera immerses its visitors in an ethereal world of splendor and magnificence. Add a touch of style and classical French hospitality, and you see why this place leads the chart of top celebrity tourist destinations.

The Carlton beach in Cannes, France

Cannes on the French Riviera is an action attraction sure to tickle the fancy of every tourist. The town hosts the famous Cannes Film Festival on an annual basis – providing a glistering perspective of what luxury and holiday resorting should be like. With an aura of regality and modest affluence, the sun perched Mediterranean coastline, and nearby medieval styled villages provide a lucid imagery of the rich French cultural history. It’s however not just about the scenery, as embossed in the rose gold streets of the nearby, Eze, Antibes, Saint Tropez and Menton as a firsthand historical perspective of French Sovereignty. Antibes in particular, with its picturesque streets and prestigious museums, reunites you with history; and if you have a taste for the exclusive, its impressive line up of celebrity villas will leave you craving for more of the same.

Èze Village

What’s the best way to explore the French Riviera; by land where you get up close and personal with its stunning architecture or via the air where you’re treated to an almost godlike perspective of its stunning scenery? How about a taste of the two; up close and personal plus a godlike view and then a serving of luxurious adventure – cue the waters of the French Riviera and its luxury yachts. Of the many highlights the French Riviera is known for, its exotic yachting and beach culture stands out as one of the most prominent in the world. Since the 18th century when its white pebble beaches were routinely toured by the likes of King Edward VII, Queen Victoria, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the French Riviera has conveyed a sense of wealth and privileged luxury; the kind that has drawn hordes of affluent visitors to its endearing yet reassuringly calm waters. So, whether you arrive on your private yacht or join the enthusiastic company of other tourists to hitch a ride aboard a cruise, ferry or boat, rest assured that you will a get a taste of the regally grand adventures of the French Riviera’s breathtaking waters.

Port Vauban marina in Antibes, France

Away from the Sea and onto the Roads of the French Riviera

Granted the sea and its frivolities pack a unique touch of adventure, but no trip to the French Riviera is complete without a day, or two spent touring its scenic landscapes and interacting with its soulful scenery. Far from the tardy definitions of a conventional tour, you too can experience the French Riviera from an elite perspective, with a custom planned tour in the supercar of your dreams. If you thought the bustling waters of the Riviera were endearing, then get set for a treat. A driving tour of the French Riviera aboard a supercar replaces the gentle sways of the adventurous sea with the high-octane pumped twists and turns of France’s greatest driving roads – it really is, the ultimate way to infuse a vibrant and spirited experience into your French Riviera adventure.

View over the Old Port of St Tropez

The Cote d’Azur and Provence feature a stunning landscape made for the 21st century explorer. The seemingly endless stretches of roads wiggle around the sun draped hills and snow-tipped mountains leaving in their wake Provence’s signature lavender fields and vignette olive groves. But that’s just a snippet of what lies in store; the Alpes-Maritimes, a streak of cliff-top roads snaking up the French Riviera’s daunting mountain range is length for length one of the most enthralling routes for driving in all of Europe. Its range is dotted with iconic hilltop villages, each painted with a byzantine palette of class and vintage luxury. From Gourdon, through Vence and up into Moustiers Sainte Marie, expect a visually scintillating experience that will most certainly leave an indelible imprint on your travel memories.

Grande Corniche road on the French Riviera

Planning your Car Tour on the French Riviera

Ready to delve into the French Riviera? Start off your tour from Cannes where an experienced tour guide will meet you at about 6:30 pm in the comfort of your hotel lobby. You will be provided with a detailed rundown of what to expect before the keys to your select dream car is handed over; this could be a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Porsche or even a Bugatti if you’re hell-bent on keeping the whole experience, French.

Ferrari and Lamborghini cars in southern France

After your first night, spent shrugging off any accompanying bits of sea sluggishness, you should be well in tune with the magic of the French Riviera – the land version. Your first route to conquer is the long stretch of road leading from Cannes up into Provence. Do this by coasting along the famous Croisette promenade and its breathtaking view of the adjacent bay of Cannes. Make your way to the charming and eccentric village of Gourdon. This town hosts an assortment of cute small boutiques, antique and art, sumptuous cuisine, perfumes, olive oils, all reminiscent of medieval France. But all this pales in comparison to the magnificent view this hilltop village provides; Gourdon perched at an altitude of almost 760m treats you to an exclusive perspective of the Mediterranean coastline and the Alps.

Stunning scenery in the south of France on driving tour

From here, its onwards to the iconic Artuby bridge in all its artistic curves and silhouetted brilliance. The Verdon National park lies just ahead and nestled within its confines is the Gorges du Verdon, France’s own Grand Canyon; make sure to take some photos, the views are spectacular. After lunch, head off into Provence where your luxury hotel awaits you.

Ferrari crossing bridge in the south of France

Day two and you’re back on track, only this time for a taste of the spectacular with one of Europe’s finest collection of mountain passes and twisting roads; if you are familiar with the Swiss Alps; you know what to expect with the Mediterranean Alps roads. Breeze through the legendary Route Napoleon and its nearby twin the Route de Thorenc. Both feature hanging cliffs and fast-paced straights; and while others pause to take a breather from the corners, you effortlessly conquer the road with the confidence that comes from being in your very own supercar.

Route de Thorenc, south of France

Your road tour of the French Riviera comes to an end with the shimmering tarmac of Col de Vence, and its striking view of the sea. From here it’s smooth sailing via the highway back to Monte-Carlo.

EPIKdrives has indeed created an epic French Riviera Driving Tour that deserves to be tested on your next trip to France.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Discover the most beautiful anchorages of the French Riviera

Superyacht at anchor at Cap Taillat on the French Riviera

The perfect French Riviera yacht charter is a tale of two glorious extremes.

On the one hand, there’s the spine-tingling glamour of docking in an exclusive marina like Monaco or St Tropez for a night of Michelin star dining and champagne-spraying decadence.

On the other, there’s the idyllic peace of sitting at anchor with a view of beaches and mountains, the only sounds the lapping of water on the hull and the soporific buzz of cicadas in the nearby pines. From your anchorage you can dive off the swim platform, get the water-toys out, or tender into one of the French Riviera’s fabulous beaches.

Being able to switch between exclusive marinas and tranquil anchorages within minutes is one of the reasons that the French Riviera continues to be one of the ultimate superyacht destinations.

To help you decide where to drop anchor on your South of France yacht charter, here are some of the best anchorage spots along the Cote d’Azur, cruising westward from Monaco to Marseille.

Read More: Stunning Anchorages along the French Riviera

Your Finest Bottle: The Best Wines In and Around St Tropez

Vineyards near St Tropez, France

Less known for its wine production than the city of Bordeaux, the glamorous coastal town of St Tropez in the Cote d’Azur offers a delicious selection of celebrated wines. The region may be renowned for its refreshing range of rosé wines, which have become the de rigueur summer choice for discerning jetsetters over the past ten years. Yet, St Tropez also produces young, fruity, but full-bodied red wines, as well as light, crisp white wines.

Gassin and Ramatuelle road sign

Some of the favoured spots for wine production in the area include Gassin, Ramatuelle and Sainte Maxime. Here, a patchwork of vineyards and wineries veils the landscape, meaning real estate in Sainte Maxime, Gassin and Ramatuelle are in great demand. Some of the real estate in Grimaud even overlooks certain vineyards – such is the close proximity of the residential areas to winemaking territory. Residents and visitors to the vineyards enjoy tranquillity, sweeping vista views, and the finest local produce one could imagine.

Rose-Glass

We’ve handpicked the best wines of St Tropez – each of which is produced at wineries that offer unmissable tastings and tours of picturesque vineyards.

Château Minuty

The quintessential rosé of St Tropez, M de Minuty Rosé is made using the lesser known Tibouren grape – a variety almost exclusively grown in this part of the France. The wine provides the perfect accompaniment to a tomato and mozzarella salad or fresh shellfish dishes, with its citrusy notes and subtle floral hints.

M Minuty rose wine from Provence

Domaine La Tourraque

Meanwhile, the Domaine La Tourraque vineyard produces three wine labels: Cuvée Joseph Brun, Cuvée Classic, Cuvée Harmonie – each of which consists of a white, red and rosé and all offer a myriad of gustatory delights. The real showstopper of the collections, and a regular medal winner, is the vintage 2016 white Cuvée Classic, which wows critics with its fresh aroma and slow-revealing notes of white fruit and citrus. The vintage 2016 white Cuvée Classic is the perfect partner to rich-tasting tapas.

Domaine La Tourraque white wine

Domaine des Tournels

With its rose petal-infused hue, the Côtes de Provence Cuvée Speciale rosé vintage is the standout diamond in Domaine des Tournels’ crown. A two-time winner of the Concours Général Agricole in Paris, the wine boasts an expressive range of ripe and exotic fruits in a well-rounded palate. It is well partnered with grilled meats or a sweet, red fruit dessert.

Domaine Tournels wine selection

Château des Marres

Château des Marres refers to its Cuvée 1907 rosé as ‘an invitation to exceptional pleasures.’ And with its delicate balance of white flowers and fruits, it lives up to this promise from the first to last sip.

Château des Marres rose wines

Château Volterra

The exceptional level of care and dedication that goes into creating Château Volterra’s wines is second to none and is evident in every savoured mouthful. The winery produces two delicious, but very different white wines, yet it is the Château Volterra Red 2008 that steals the show with its silky, elegant taste, that is complemented by hints of spices and smoke. Partnered with spiced, red meat, this wine is pleasingly powerful as well as fresh.

Domaine Volterra, Ramatuelle

Organic Rosés

For the discerning, environmentally conscious oenophiles, there are also a number of organic rosé options available in the region, including Jas d’Esclans Cote de Provence and Alpilles Rosé Longchamp – both of which summon reveries of hazy summer days spent gazing over fields of fragrant lavender and sunflowers.

Jas d’Esclans Cote de Provence rose

With such a broad variety of grapes – reds range across syrah, grenache, cinsault, the lesser known tibouren, mourvedre, carignan, cabernet sauvignon, while whites include rolle, ugni blanc, clairette, and semillon – and such a rich selection of wines, you are guaranteed to find a tipple for every preference and taste in St Tropez.

SaveSave