It is hard to overestimate the effect the heartbreaking landscapes and light of the French Riviera had on some of the world’s great artists. Monet and Matisse, Picasso, Signac and Chagall are just a few who fell under the spell of the French Riviera, enchanted by that mythic, ethereal light falling across the Cote d’Azur’s pastel facades, dusky-blue Alps and sparkling seas.
Many of these great artists came and stayed, finding a new vigour in their painting and spending much of their lives here creating Mediterranean-inspired masterpieces in the fabled southern light.
A luxury yacht charter in the south of france is the ultimate way to visit the artistic highlights of the Riviera, following the lives and works of the masters along a memory-trail of rose’ and Gauloises smoke, scandalous love affairs and tragic suicides. On your yacht charter you can go ashore to visit the fabulous museums and former homes of these artists, dine in fine restaurants hung with their paintings, and admire the very same views that inspired their masterworks. Follow the path of the masters from the dreamy coves of Cap d’Antibes to the flowery hill village of St Paul de Vence and along the coast to the pastel beauty of Saint Tropez.
Located between Monaco and Menton, east of Nice you’ll find the commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, an idyllic area of the French Riviera that is not as esteemed as the popular yacht charter destinations of Cannes or Saint Tropez, but with all the appealing elements that are unmistakably Côte d’Azur.
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin has a photogenically Mediterranean setting with a medieval Château dominating the village before the landscape drops down to the sea. There are three distinct parts that make up the commune – the town with coastal resort, Cap Martin and the medieval village.
Known worldwide as the go to destination for a superyacht charter, the French Riviera has upheld its strong reputation amongst the elites for decades, making it a particularly popular region for yachting with hotspots such as Monaco, Cannes and St Tropez.
The proximity of Nice’s airport to Monaco, Cannes and other key locations on the Riviera transform it into a magnet for private jets in the summer, which are catered to by a separate terminal throughout the year. From there, transport can be easily arranged to start a charter either in the Port of Nice itself or even in Monaco, just 7 minutes away by helicopter.
After an adrenaline-filled morning on the yacht’s watertoys or a few pleasant hours spent exploring the enchanting hill villages of Provence, it’s time to indulge in some pampering. The French Riviera is home to some of the most spectacular spas on earth, and as you float along the coast on your French Riviera yacht charter, you may well be tempted to try them all.
Whether you want to try the latest in caviar facials, invigorate the senses under an ice-fountain, or drift into a blissful reverie with a gentle Swedish massage, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of the Cote d’Azur’s ultra-luxury temples to wellbeing.
Glamorous, decadent, and dripping in celebrity history, the beach clubs of the Cote d’Azur have long been synonymous with the superyacht set. Yet of the hundred or so beach clubs along this stretch of storied coastline, which ones should you visit on your superyacht charter?
The best beach clubs have a seductive magic about them, an allure that goes far past the sophisticated decor, the handsome charm of the waiters, or even the softness of the sand where white-cloth tables sit before the sparkling sea. At the top beach clubs—the ones that the A-list compete to get into in the long, languorous days of a Mediterranean Summer — there’s a lingering sense of summers past, of all the famous people who have mingled, dined and danced here, passing happy days diving off pontoons and basking in the sun.
So join us as we float from the towering cliffs of Monaco down to the Gulf of Saint Tropez, dropping anchor at the most glorious beach clubs along the French Riviera.
Monte-Carlo Beach Club
This prestigious beach club at Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel offers the most impressive selection of options of any Monaco beach club, with a private beach with watersports and luxury tents; an Olympic sized saltwater swimming pool with diving tower, and a Michelin star restaurant on a deck overlooking the glittering sea. Laze back in your cool striped cabana with a hookah pipe, go parasailing high above the Mediterranean, or dine on fresh deliciousness at Elsa, the first all-organic restaurant to be lauded by the Michelin inspectors. Naturally, there’s also a spa onsite to take your pampering beach club experience to the next level.
The global Nikki Beach franchise has extended its reach with a pop-up ‘beach’ club on top of the Fairmont Hotel, which will return for another bout of party madness in April 2017. All the action at Nikki Beach Monaco takes place around the pool, which is surrounded by luxurious white deckchairs, from which you can indulge in some quality people-watching or gaze out at the endless Mediterranean views. With chilled DJ beats ramping up as the day wears on, Nikki Beach Monaco feels very much like a daytime nightclub, so it attracts a young crowd bent on having a good time.
If the idea of loud DJ music and enthusiastic young things spraying Champagne makes you want to retreat with haste to a place of cool, calm exclusivity, there can be no better oasis than La Note Bleue in Monaco. This sophisticated beach club at Monaco’s Larvotto Beach offers a garden-like setting by the sea, with decadent daybeds with wispy curtains, soft white deckchairs by the water, and elegant dining tables shaded by graceful sweeps of canvas. At night, drink and dine by soft lantern-light as notable jazz musicians play to an appreciative crowd.
For sheer celebrity history and Mediterranean charm, it would be hard to go past Paloma Beach, an iconic beach club nestled on a small cove in exclusive Cap Ferrat. Family-run since 1948 and named after Picasso’s daughter, the beach club at Paloma Beach offers heart-soaring views of cliffs and blue-green sea, with opulent villas climbing the steep slopes behind. Paloma Beach isn’t shiny and decadent— in fact it’s slightly rustic compared to its Monaco counterparts, with the same “shack” from 1948 serving up fresh-grilled seafood and family-style service to the dining tables scattered along the pretty pebbled beach. Paloma Beach promises the French Riviera experience… as it used to be. After a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water, lie back on a deckchair with an icy glass of rose’ and listen to the cicadas buzzing in the nearby pines. A place of family tradition, celebrity patronage, and the bewitching nostalgia of summers past, Paloma each is the French Riviera, and it would be remiss not to stop here on your Cote d’Azur yacht charter.
Return to where the French Riviera legend truly began, at the gloriously pretty Plage de la Garoupe. This stunning powder-white sand beach is where an American socialite couple called the Murphys launched the French Riviera as a summertime destination in the 1920s, clearing the beach of seaweed and fishing nets and inviting Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Picasso to sunbathe and swim in the crystal clear waters. Today, Plage Keller is the pick of the beach clubs along this pretty cove, offering excellent Mediterranean food in a sophisticated setting and beautiful views across the Bay of Angels to the distant Alps. Take a table on the silky soft sand or a deckchair on the long jetty, shaded by jaunty yellow umbrellas. Celebrity history is everywhere on the Riviera— if you only know where to look, and the refined Plage Keller beach club is the ideal beach club to celebrate the birthplace of the Riviera as we know it.
This designer-chic beach club is part of the Hotel Martinez, and is famous for its wide beach area and vast pontoon with teak decking and deliriously comfortable lounges. The most sought-after beach club experience in Cannes, Z Plage has an adjoining restaurant, a smoothie and cocktail bar, and a beach cabana offering Givenchy spa massages during July and August. Find your heaven under the shade of a white umbrella, or find an oasis of privacy between wisps of white curtains that wave gently in the afternoon breeze.
This glamorous beach club is a sister venue to the famous Baoli nightclub in Cannes’ Port Canto, and attracts the same A-list crowd of the young and genetically blessed. With a premier position by the majestic art deco façade of the Carlton Intercontinental hotel, Baoli Beach is the perfect venue to have an elegant lunch at a table on the sand or soak up the sun on the large jetty covered in plush deckchairs. The white and cream décor is set off perfectly against the blue sea and sky, and as the day heads into afternoon there’s a party vibe in the air that carries on long into the summer nights.
When talking of beach clubs in Saint Tropez, you simply must start with Club 55. In 1955 when filming And God Created Woman, Brigitte Bardot’s husband Vadim mistook a simple bungalow on the beach for a bistro, and asked the owner if the film crew could have something to eat. His wife kindly agreed to cook them a meal, and so history was made. That film would propel both Bardot and Saint Tropez to global stardom, and with it, the humble bungalow that would soon become the infamous Club 55 beach club.
Today, the bungalow still stands, surrounded by tall stands of bamboo and tamarisk trees that bend gently in the afternoon breezes which skip up off the water. Tables are shaded by swoops of white canvas, deckchairs are set up on the soft sand with stunning views, and as the day goes on and the inhibitions loosen, people begin to dance. Club 55 is beach club royalty, and the guest list shows it.
For a younger and wilder crowd, head to Nikki Beach St Tropez where beautiful young things dance on tables to big-name DJs, and as much Champagne seems to get sprayed as is drunk. This is hedonism at its most energetic.
In Summer, expect your A-list crowd of young celebrities and racing drivers to be tempered with a crowd of party-goers keen to brush shoulders with the superyacht set. Despite the name, Nikki Beach St Tropez isn’t actually right on the beach, so all the action centres around the pool, which is surrounded by the signature all-white lounges and daybeds of the Nikki Beach franchise.
Tradition is important in Saint Tropez, but it is not everything. Every once in a while, a newcomer announces its arrival with such success and fanfare that it immediately rockets to the top of the ‘must-visit’ list. Bagatelle Beach is one such venue, expanding to Saint Tropez after success in St Barts, Rio, and New York. After a fire destroyed the beach club in early 2016, Bagatelle Beach reopened and is going from strength to strength. The décor is coastal chic, with wicker chairs, white tablecloths, and flashes of bright blue — all reflecting that air of bright light and sparkling sea which makes the Riviera so entirely irresistible to anyone with a touch of romance in their soul.
Bradley Mitton, founder of Mitton Wines and Club Vivanova brings a new level of sophistication to the world of wine for expats in the French Riviera and Monaco.
Hi Bradley. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and your business?
I left the UK twenty five years ago to travel and experience Australia and Asia and through various work opportunities, I developed my career in the food and beverage industry and worked for eleven years amongst a number of reputable fine dining restaurants in Australia’s Gold Coast, Cairns, Hong Kong, Manila, Subic Bay and Seoul. The affinity of food and wine played a large part during my last eight years working in Asia and when I moved to Seoul in 2000, I managed an international business that focused on gastronomy, Australian wines and cigars and I acquired the ability to successfully market and promote wines, menus and events. It was when I moved to Berlin in 2002 that I started working primarily in wines and I decided that it was time to set my own company up so on a shoe-string budget, I established Mitton International Wines. The company is based in Berlin, we import boutique Argentinean, Australian, New Zealand and South African wines to Central Europe and we sell exclusively to leading hotels, private clubs, villas, yachts and international restaurants across the Continent. I then pioneered Club Vivanova that runs events in parallel with my wine business in locations that list our products as a service to build relationships with our gastronomy partners. Both Club Vivanova and my wine business work hand-in-hand to develop relationships between our wines and our clients and they are growing dynamically in the seven European countries that we work in. I currently travel throughout Europe training and educating hotel and restaurant employees in the diversity and regionality of New World wines and hosting my wine events that are mostly sold-out in Barcelona, Berlin, Milan Monte Carlo, Prague and Warsaw building great business and social connections for me and my partners. We host around 80 events per year.
Why did you decide to switch gears from being a chef to wine importing/distribution and event management?
It wasn’t something that I planned as I loved running and working in restaurants but as my career progressed, I started moving more towards sales, marketing and events and in 2002, I was flown to Berlin from Seoul and employed by a German wine importing company to channel their portfolio towards the New World and so I went from running restaurants to selling into them and the move was seamless. Having a good understanding of your clientelle is important and I understand the gastronomy business well, so I was naturally able to build a good rapport with my sommelier and restaurant managing clients. Looking back, I am happy I made the move, the restaurant industry is a killer; long hours, heavy pressure and it’s tough to make money in this sector, there’s just so many flaws in the industry that cause financial loss. The social life is great but the financial benefits just didn’t weigh up for me so I think simplifying to a trading operation made business life somewhat less stressful for me and more clean in an operational point of view.
You’ve been running your company now for 13 years. How long did it take for it to become successful?
I’m still working on that. The first five years was just building, setting-up clientelle, establishing a database, changing portfolios, learning from mistakes, losing money left right and centre and basically trying to get a start-up business on the road. It was very tough, long hours but inspirational and a great learning curve. I see my business as an train, with an engine and carriages and you have to continuously fine tune the engine to keep it moving ahead but also make sure the carriages (employees, administration and back-office) are keeping up as in our business, it’s the weakest link that is the threat. The wolf is only as strong as the pack and the pack is only as strong as the wolf; so you have to have the whole package running like clockwork from purchasing to pricing and stocking, communication then delivery and of course, the after-sales. We run a slick and specialist operation, I refuse to accept mediocrity and I’m always challenging ourselves internally to do better and be better and grow but carefully and in a planned and selective manner.
You mentioned that the first few years were tough. How did you keep yourself motivated?
I used to take each day as it came, there are always fires to put out with the business and issues to deal with and you’re going to have battles and you win some and lose some but you’ve just got the make sure that you win the big war, that’s the main objective and you’ve got to always be trying to streamline the way the company runs. The motivation comes from within, you need to be hungry, you have to want to survive and succeed and if you are not driven , you just won’t make it and if you’re not strong, it’s no use even starting out. There are employees and there are entrepreneurs and we all have our place in life and I think I was just born ready; I motivate myself and focus on my targets, taking very little notice of distractions and negative people or influences, I take most of my business decisions myself and I am driven to be the best and I think even though that can sometimes be a bit dangerous, that is the key to success, if it is controlled and not erratic. Never take no for an answer and if you fall down failing, just get up, and start again, keep going. Winston Churchill once said that when you’re going through hell, keep going!
You’re originally from England but have lived in Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Korea, Germany, and now France. Which place has been your favorite so far and why?
I’ve enjoyed everywhere that I’ve lived for different reasons and at different times, they showed me many different facets of life; but my favourite part of the world is the South of France. I studied French at school for eight years and I fell in love with the language, the literature, the culture, the food, the art, the women, the fashion, just everything, it was all so romantic and so when I moved back to Europe after Asia, I decided to develop my wine business in Monaco and travelled frequently and just fell back in love with the lifestyle. Eventually I had enough business there to be able to move and now live in the hills behind Cagnes Sur Mer looking down over the Mediterranean and it’s serene. The food is wonderful as are the wines, you can be in many of Europe’s business cities quickly and the pace of life is slow so I can balance that with my frantic, travelling and pressured corporate life running events and wine sales. One thing I have always respected though is my work ethic; it’s a relaxing and ambient place to live but you’ve always got to make money, if you start to get too comfortable here, you can end up on the slippery sslope of just having fun and then waking up one day with nothing. So I still work as hard here as I have ever done, but I just enjoy life in this region so much more than anywhere else I have lived. And I think that if you’re willing to give and commit in business in this part of the world, there are amazing rewards.
Have you ever experienced any major culture shocks?
Yes, plenty and especially in Asia; it’s an amazing place and just has so much to offer and the diversity of cultures is quite astonishing. I’ve lived in mud-huts and tree-houses and travelled extensively through East Timor, Komodo, Lombok, Bali and other parts of Indonesia in the 1990s. I spent a few months in the North of the Philippines living amongst the rice paddies in villages without power and I set-up a restaurant in Boracay (Philippines) before it had any power and the restaurant and kitchens were run off generators. I have many wonderful, humorous, humbling, sad and inspirational stories from my experiences and they all built me to be the person I am today. I’m going to write a book.
Where would you say people are most conscious of how they dress and how they present themselves?
I can’t say France as I think in general, the fashion in this part of the world can be superficial and scruffy so I will say Milan; locals always look sharp and Italians have a wonderful and diverse fashion sense; it’s not a style, it’s a statement and in Milan, everything is fashion, the people, the buildings, the restaurants, the designs, the hotels; they just like to make things look good and they like to look good themselves. It’s a great pleasure walking around Milan seeing how people really take pride in what they wear and how they look; I like that, it shows self-respect and pride and a drive to look and feel well.
The traditional English and French styles are quite different. Would you say living in France has had an influence on your style?
I haven’t lived in the UK for 25 years; the styles are at different ends of the fashion spectrum. Living in France has made me dress less formally but with an open-mind to believing that most clothes fit together, jeans with a jacket and formal shirt, colours that would normally not go in the UK, for example brown shoes with blue trousers is forbidden in the British scene, I’ve become less classical and more Continental and I like it, it’s relaxed. I buy most of my suits from Ermenegildo Zegna, shirts from Gucci and Dolce Gabbana, ties from Hermes and shoes from Tod’s. You can mix and match here as long as you’re looking elegant.
How would you describe your style? How has it evolved over time?
Yes, definitely, we evolve as we get older. I would say I’m a classic dresser, I like clean-cut, blues and whites; I try to dress sharply but casually, open-necked shirts, dark colours and not always formal clothing but I have to look professional and elegant as I’m meeting and doing business with leaders of the greatest hotels on the Continent and they want to deal with like-minded, executive, quick-thinking and clean-cut partners. You have to be able to walk into a room and make an impression in my business and wearing something sharp but acceptable to the eye is important.
What items will you never leave home without?
I never leave home without my sunglasses (unless it’s evening) or a jacket. I always wear a jacket, I think it’s a great accessory to turn any outfit into something that makes a statement. I also always wear one ring, a gold one my Mother gave to me; it’s a charm, but I think minimal jewellery is also important and of course a good watch.
Why is it important to present yourself well?
As I’ve mentioned, the people I deal with in business and the people that I like to surround myself in general in life are international business leaders. They run exceptional and highly professional operations in which success, efficiency and leadership is key and so I have to have an effect on these people when I meet them and in turn, they also want to also do business with sharp, sincere, executive and elegant people. So I have to look the part, to fit the sector that I work in and that means dressing well, not over-dressing but just to be clean and crisp and I have to wear that character well to present myself in the right manner. It’s not just what you wear though, it’s how to carry that but the impression has to be right and of course the style of clothes you wear is important.
Turning back to Club Vivanova – what are the most important elements of a good event?
Again, I think it all comes back to relationships and efficiency. One of my regular attendees recently sent me a testimonial, it said “Bradley is the soul of Club Vivanova, the brains and the heart behind it, and that is a guarantee in itself for us that he will continue to attract new and interesting people.” My club members and my clients trust my judgement and they expect excellence, they expect the best and I cannot give anything else, no waivering, no excuses, we have to perform at the absolute top level as reputations are always at stake and so we have to put on a good show. If we have partners involved, they have to fit the profile, they hav to be leaders in their sector. The most important elements for a successful event are good communication, promotion and advertising of the date, an excellent and tested menu with specialist wines that match, a unique venue that is managed well so there are no disappointments and then of course I run each event like my own open pop-up restaurant, we manage the door, the aperitif, the service, the menu, wines, presentations then the finale of the event with appreciations, after-service images posted online and so on. We have to have a well-run, professionally executed package so people arrive, and they know I’m taking care of business until the end of the night. It is tough work as we’re dealing with temperamental human beings, alcohol and food it can get complicated but it is inspirational and challenging and I love it, because we always do it right and so we always succeed.
What are your future plans for your businesses and your “brand”?
I just keep my head down, keep pushing for better and more exclusive events, inspirational event partners, out-of-the-box thinking in regards to the concepts but all the time, remembering that it’s the clients who have to enjoy themselves so we have to feature projects that will impress or interest them. Our plans include two galas in 2016, one at the Fairmont on 12th March and one at the Café de Paris on 23rd April. I’m also releasing and wine and food cookery book and we’re just going to keep pushing to be better, fine-tuning all the time, listening to our clients, re-focusing and using all of the criticism we get positively to drive the brand forward fast. The brand has grown extensively in Monaco, though it is always important to be grounded in this part of the world and stick to the basic guidelines of running a successful business. Success goes to people’s heads, not mine, we’re still the same, caring, small company we were ten years ago, straight and true and I’ll never lose that special sincere touch that we give to everything that we do.
Are there any rules or principles that you live by? What keeps you grounded?
Principally, I try to be a gentleman. I believe in truth and sincerity, there is no other way; and that you only get out of life what you put in, I am a non-believer in luck or fate, business and success is 0% luck and 100% determination and grit. My father always taught me that there are two ways of doing things in life, the right way and the wrong way and the right way is always the hard way and so getting to the top is painful and sometimes lonely but when we strive for that and drive ourselves to do things correctly, no short-cuts, no excuses, then we normally get to where we want to be. And then when we get there, we aim for the next plateau and so on. Driven people are never satisfied, they just want to keep becoming better and better and so I stick to my principles and strive for greatness in work and in life. I’m grounded because I’m a father, my son is 16, he lives with me in France and so I have a wonderful home life, full of love and happiness. I cook a lot at home, I entertain and run my home like an extension of my old restaurants and that is what gives me the grounding that I need. I love nature and so spend lots of time in my garden and I run most mornings between 5 and 10 kilometres, it clears my mind, focuses and channels my thoughts and once I arrive at my desk, I’m ready to challenge anything that comes my way.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
In my field of sales and marketing, I would advise entrepreneurs not to take on anything that you are passionate about, you have to work with a business almost remotely as if you’re tuning a racing car, feelings and personalities have to be left behind. If you’re too close to your business personally, you’ll make emotional decisions, not good. Decisions have to be made clinically and with a view to total survival. I’m not saying that you have to be impersonal but business is business and business is cut-throat these days and if you want to succeed and build something substantial in a lifetime, you have to be ready to challenge, sacrifice, accept physical and mental pain and sleepless nights and drive yourself to perfection. Nothing in this life is easy, there is no free lunch, so be prepared to do it the right way, the hard way and always surround yourself with amazing, smart, sharp and successful people and always be true! “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, and what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son.”
It’s easy to fall in love with a classic, and M/Y Antisan is a stand out with a perfect mix of elegance and classicism. Based at Vieux Port, Antisan is one of the best options for luxury yacht charter for groups in Cannes.
At 33 metres in length with a beam of almost 8 metres, Antisan offers a well-priced charter experience where her generous dimensions place her as a fine choice for clients seeking space that is usually found on bigger yachts.
Available for Mediterranean charters throughout the year, Antisan’s professional crew are highly skilled with service during luxury events and parties in Cannes and her onboard areas allow clients to maximise their experience for relaxing or entertaining as they wish.
Antisan has the capacity to host parties in port for up to 100 people, or even larger numbers during Cannes events such as Cannes Lions, Cannes Film Festival, MIPIM, ILTM or MIDEM utilising the adjacent quay.
ANDIAMO is a fabulous Riva Aquariva 33 built by the legendary Riva Yachts of Italy. She is based in the Port of St Jean Cap Ferrat on the prestigious Cap Ferrat Peninsula between Monaco and Nice. The Aquariva is a fast, modern yacht that draws strongly on the heritage of the historic Riva Yachts of the 1960s and 1970s. No other yachts are as synonymous with the glamour of the Cote d’Azur and French Riviera.
Motor Yacht VANINA V is a superb example of the Princess V70 Yacht built by Princess Yachts on the south coast of England. This stunning yacht has been superbly maintained by a professional crew. In our opinion, the Princess V70 Yacht is perhaps the finest looking of all the yachts designed by Princess Yachts with sleek lines, great volume and fabulous entertaining space. The yacht’s garage houses not just a Williams 325 jet tender but also a 3 man jet ski! Motor Yacht VANINA V is based in the port of Sainte-Maxime on the French Riviera, just 5 minutes from Saint-Tropez and she is the ideal yacht for a charter in Saint-Tropez and the Côte d’Azur.
Alexander Coles is the Owner and Senior Yacht Charter Broker at Bespoke Yacht Charter, a company he founded in 2014 after 13 years’ experience arranging luxury yacht charters in the south of France, throughout the Mediterranean and worldwide. More than half of his bookings are repeat clients or referrals from existing clients that include ultra high net worth individuals, celebrities, royal families and large corporations. His aim is to deliver beyond all expectations – whether he arranges a charter booking for a two week Summer holiday for a family looking for the last word in discretion, through to corporate yacht charters for companies looking to present an extremely high profile at an important event.
What is it that you do exactly?
I arrange luxury yacht charters for highly discerning individuals from all over the world. I specialize in all Mediterranean yachting destinations but with particular emphasis on the Côte d’Azur and French Riviera, such places as St Tropez, Cannes and Monaco. The yachts I offer are from 25-100m in length and are all fully crewed by highly professional crew, offering the ultimate in floating luxury. In addition to yachting holidays, I also rent yachts to companies attending prestigious events in the south of France such as the Cannes Lions, MIPIM and the Cannes Film Festival.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love the fact that I spend my days arranging experiences designed to give others pleasure! My clients are usually very busy business people and they want their holidays to be absolutely perfect in every way. Working very closely with each yacht’s Captain and crew, I aim to ensure an absolutely seamless luxury experience for each client.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
I absolutely adore this legendary hotel on the luxurious Cap d’Antibes peninsula between Antibes and Cannes in the south of France. The hotel is incredibly private and set in beautiful gardens with fabulous views of the Mediterranean. The staff are utterly AMAZING! It’s incredibly luxurious but in a very discrete and unpretentious way. If you haven’t stayed there, I strongly recommend it. It is to my mind and many others, the best hotel in the world!
I first discovered this wonderful villa on the island of Korcula in 2007 and booked it for two weeks. It was my first visit to Croatia and I have been going there ever since. The house is surrounded by the sea on three sides with the most stunning views. It has a private pontoon for swimming and taking a boat or kayak out into the bay. It’s an extremely private place and you could stay there for weeks without seeing a soul! This villa is a place to truly lose yourself and switch off. The nearby town of Vela Luka has plenty of shops and restaurants if you ever feel like going out!
I often go to concerts in Milan in the summer months and discovered this fabulous hotel on the internet completely by chance. This hotel is truly unique, part loft apartment, part gentlemen’s club… each suite is themed around something different, motor racing, tennis etc. It’s not often you have Louis Vuitton trunks in your room, unless they’re yours of course! Truly fabulous decoration and beautiful objets d’art to be found throughout. The bar and terrace are also stunning! As the name implies, the hotel is set around a beautiful courtyard right in the centre of Milan, my favourite city in Italy.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I have been lucky enough to have dined at some of the best restaurants in the world, Le Louis XV in Monaco, Le Gravroche in London etc. But the one that really stands out is The Five Fields in London. I went there with my wife for my birthday last year and was truly blown away. Chef Marguerite Keogh is incredibly talented and uses beautiful ingredients in very creative ways. The food is rare in that it is incredibly stylish but definitely not style over substance. We had the tasting menu and every course was a triumph. The restaurant has been receiving rave reviews and I am sure it is only a matter of time before the Michelin inspectors give the restaurant the recognition it deserves!
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Yes absolutely! The vast majority of my clients are rather wealthy to say the least, and some of them pretty famous too. I certainly won’t name any names but celebrities certainly love chartering yachts!
I always attend the Monaco Grand Prix and have seen lots of famous faces there, both from the world of F1 of course but also music and cinema. I also love the restaurant Cipriani in Monaco, owned by Flavio Briatore, there are always lots of famous people in there and at the nearby club Twiga! The same is true of some of the beach clubs at Pampelonne near St Tropez.
Funnily enough, for all the celebrities I see on the Côte d’Azur, I actually probably see more famous people in London, specifically around Kensington and Chelsea where I spend a great deal of time.
There is an Italian restaurant called La Famiglia in Chelsea that I’ve been going to since I was in nappies. I must have been there hundreds of times and there is always a famous actor or musician eating there every time I go! As a child, I had my photo taken there with Clint Eastwood and the photo stills hangs on the wall in the restaurant.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I can’t wait to go to India! I have heard so much about the country and people! Those I know that have been, absolutely rave about it – the food, the colours, the vibrancy. I want to do it justice though and go for a couple of months so I am waiting until I have the time. Spare time is a bit of a luxury at the moment!
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Alex. Good luck with your quest to get to India – I was lucky enough to be there for a couple of days in 2013 but, like you say, it was sadly definitely nowhere near long enough to remotely do it justice!
This interview was originally published on A Luxury Travel Blog and can be found here
M/Y BLUE MAMBA is an exceptional yacht, now available at an exceptional price. With sleek lines and an attractive blue hull, this 38.7m (127′ 1″) motor yacht streaks across the water at a top speed of 28 knots. Offering six staterooms that cater for up to 12 guests, BLUE MAMBA superyacht for sale is a rare find for her size range.
Custom built by Oceanline Shipyard in 2008, the elegant vessel is also an excellent proposition as a charter yacht. Her above-average guest capacity proves a distinctive selling point in the charter market, but her top-end design and performance confirm her pedigree. With clean lines and a gleaming silver superstructure, the superyacht’s stylish exterior was designed by Frank Mulder, while the yacht’s contemporary interior is courtesy of Art Line Interiors from the Netherlands.
M/Y BLUE MAMBA is a superyacht of unrivalled design and performance. She is equipped with an ultra-modern stabilization system, which reduces roll motion effect, comfortably and smoothly cruising between your desired locations. She also features bow thrusters, which enable better manoeuvrability at low speeds.
The stunning yacht’s spacious interior offers a level of comfort and style that is unsurpassed. The layout is unique and includes a sumptuous forward master cabin, which is positioned up on the yacht’s main deck. The bedroom has large windows, which let in abundant light and an impressive sunken bathroom down a short flight of steps. A very comfortable VIP Stateroom with a queen-sized double bed is located on the lower deck and four more cabins, accessible by a spiral staircase, complete the well-considered accommodation. Additionally, the stylish yacht is capable of carrying up to six crew on board.
The decor is elegant yet inviting, consisting of neutral tones with rich brown sofas and seating that complement the dark teak and grey marble finishes. The overall effect is ultra-modern yet effortlessly chic. Amenities include a 52” Sharp Aquos TV, high-quality sound system, air Conditioning, Wi-Fi connection and a deck Jacuzzi.
The yacht is perfect for entertaining guests due to the large dining table for up to 12 people which can be converted into a bar. The main deck aft has fixed seating, a large table and occasional chairs for larger groups. M/Y BLUE MAMBA offers a good selection of water toys, a tender and a swim platform.
Initially on the market for EUR 6,250,000, this yacht is now a brilliant buyer’s opportunity at EUR 4,900,000 through Worth Avenue Yachts. BLUE MAMBA is currently in Saint-Tropez.
Geographically located between Nice and Monaco, Cap Ferrat is dotted with splendid villas hidden behind stately gates and sub-tropical gardens; a haven in the past and today to the world’s rich and famous including singers, actors, politicians and royalty such as Somerset Maugham, King Léopold II of Belgium, American film director Otto Preminger, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Cocteau, David Niven and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
All holidaymakers know that other than beautiful surroundings, luxurious accommodation and the much-deserved opportunity to relax, no holiday would be complete without good food. Luckily the South of France has the culinary prowess to make fine dining a certainty on your Mediterranean escape. Naturally, French Riviera Helicopter Transfer and gourmet cuisine go together like champagne and caviar. That’s why so many restaurants have exclusive helicopter landing spots, which allow for quick and luxurious transfers directly to their grounds. We spoke to the leading helicopter transfer company on the French Riviera, Heli Securite, who have recommended the following five restaurants with landing spots for direct landing.
Tahiti Beach is one of the best-located restaurants in Saint-Tropez and perfectly represents the joie de vivre for which the seaside town is universally famous. Fortunately, the food is wonderful, the atmosphere is relaxed and the friendly staff make you feel at home. Tahiti’s food is consistently good and served by the sea with the selection of freshly caught fish and tasty pizza straight from the oven being highlights. In fact, it’s difficult to know what you’ll enjoy more: the delicious food or spectacular sea views.
Chez Bruno, Lorgues
Famed for its truffles, the one-Michelin-star Chez Bruno serves more of this exquisite delicacy than any other restaurant in the world. Bruno has been running this iconic restaurant set in the pretty Provençal town of Lorgues for many years and it’s a truly local family business, which has started to expand internationally.
The outdoor setting of idyllic gardens and a terrace is lovely in the summer and during winter a roaring fire gives the cosy interior a magical feel. This really is truffle heaven, and Bruno’s signature dish, a potato and truffle combination, has people returning for more. Most of the produce is found within two hours of the restaurant, so diners are guaranteed the finest quality.
La Bouitte, Saint Martin de Belleville
La Bouitte is a charming hotel located at the foot of the Saint-Marcel ski slopes in Saint–Martin de Belleville. However, it’s the hotel’s restaurant that really draws the crowds. René and Maxime Meilleur are a father and son team whose impeccable cuisine has been granted three Michelin stars and classified among the ‘great gables of the world’ since 2012. The restaurant is set in an authentic mountain chalet with a cosy yet chic decor befitting an establishment that prides itself on creating cuisine that respects the quality of local products and the art of cooking. The outside terrace nestled amongst the trees is perfect for apres ski drinks or a pre-flight lunch, since the helipad is located 50 metres away.
Les Gorges de Pennafort, Callas
Les Gorges de Pennafort is one of Provence’s unmissable highlights set in a beautiful setting close to the Cote d’Azur. Chef Philippe Sa Silva and his wife took over management of the restaurant twenty years ago and haven’t looked back, even receiving a Michelin star in that time. His innovative use of regional produce combined with a contemporary twist, such as foie gras and Parmesan ravioli, have won the loyalty of international customers. Chef Da Silva’s flavoursome menu also extends to an impressive cocktail list, including their unique speciality: champagne with grapefruit cream. The sensationally sublime cuisine can be enjoyed in the elegant and light-infused dining room or outside on the terrace under a bioclimatic pergola, which adapts to the weather conditions.
La Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
La Bastide de Moustiers’s restaurant serves provençale cuisine in a wonderfully rural country setting. The lovely country house is an upscale inn owned by Alain Ducasse, a noted chef famous for his three Michelin star restaurant in London’s Dorchester hotel among others. Nestled in the Provence village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the restaurant sits amid ancient olive trees and vibrant lavender bushes. The menu changes daily in accordance with the products available in the hotel’s vegetable garden and is served under a shaded terrace. Chilled pea and fava bean bouillon, steak, chimney baked lamb, and a cocotte of spring vegetables are all mouth-watering favourites prepared with care and attention.
Spring, or printemps, is an ideal time of the year to visit the French Riviera where people are feeling invigorated with the start of longer days after daylight savings moved the clocks forward the last Sunday in March.
Yachts are preparing ahead for the busy Mediterranean season, with many crossing back from the Caribbean, and the last remnants of winter in the south are slowly fading with dusk.
Spring on the French Riviera
The French Riviera had origins as a winter resort, where convalescing patients would stay for the health benefits of the mild climate, and aristocrats would visit to forget the grey skies of the northern winter. Almost one hundred years ago, luxury yachts were not common place here with the preferred transport being trains especially the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (PLM) expresses.
The PLM launched their first-class-only service to the French Riviera in 1922 and Le Train Bleu opened up the region and brought with it distinguished passengers over the years including Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Somerset Maugham.
The attractions of good weather and sunny skies flipped the coin for the French Riviera as hotels began to extend their season to cater for wealthy visitors – Gerald and Sara Murphy convinced the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc to stay open in summer, and Coco Chanel startled everyone with her suntan when she stepped ashore in Cannes in 1923 from Flying Cloud, the yacht belonging to Hugh Grosvenor, the Second Duke of Westminster.
Today, the French Riviera’s popularity continues – it’s a great destination to charter a luxury yacht year round and while summer is often handed the glory of ‘best time of the year to visit’, spring is just as ideal with less traffic than summer, luxury hotels having off-season specials, attractions reopening after Easter and clear, crisp days perfect for cruising the Mediterranean coast.
The French Riviera is a great destination for driving with over 300 sunshine days a year it’s no wonder one of the main highways feeding into south-eastern France, the A7 from Lyon to Marseille, is christened the ‘Autoroute du Soleil’.
Some of Bespoke Yacht Charter’s favourite self-drive road trips are located not far from the French Riviera’s ports and marinas meaning a spectacular journey on wheels is easy to combine with your Cote d’Azur yacht charter – imagine rambling into vineyards to buy wines direct from the producer, visiting perched villages for a leisurely Provençal lunch beside a heritage-listed fountain and traversing beautiful National Parks with wildflowers and wildlife.
The French Riviera is home to some of the most magnificent real estate in the world. Combining cutting edge design with traditional Provençal charm, spectacular settings and unbelievable views, many of these properties are available to rent by the week. As a land base, these rentals offer the perfect complement to a Mediterranean Yacht Charter, enabling you to combine seafaring adventure with land-based luxury.
With such an incredible selection of villas to choose from, it’s tough to name our favourites. We’ve narrowed down a selection of the finest, basing our decision on those villas that replicate the luxuriousness of superyachts.
Here are our five favourite villa rentals on the French Riviera:
Best for Waterfront:
It’s easy to fall in love with Villa Amourai, located in the prestigious ‘Les Parcs de Saint Tropez’ private domain. This waterfront villa has unobstructed views of the Mediterranean, which are best enjoyed from the heated swimming pool or master bedroom, and allows direct access to the beach. The property has five bedrooms, including one boasting a glass ceiling under the swimming pool, a fitness room and helipad.
This ultra modern villa is furnished to the highest of standards and makes for a secluded and spacious getaway, accommodating 10 people in five en-suite bedrooms. Special features include a roof garden, swimming pool and pool house, and a private chef.
Best for Corporate:
Located in the heart of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, within easy reach of Monaco, Nice and Cannes, Domaine Mareeba offers an exclusive setting for corporate retreats. The domain has the capacity to accommodate up to 24 guests in three recently constructed luxury villas. This contemporary estate is light and spacious, offering a swimming pool, immaculate gardens and private access to the harbour. It is a complete package for professional escapes.
Best for St Tropez:
Villa Tennessee is an idyllic retreat, offering a unique insight into real St Tropez living, situated within a very short driving distance of the town’s main square, Place des Lices. A modern villa, this charming rental offers landscaped gardens, plenty of outside entertaining areas, a swimming pool and seven luxurious bedrooms. What’s more, you’ll only be a stone’s throw away from the glamorous nightlife, for which this pretty settlement is world-famous.
Best for Family:
La Bergerie in Tourettes is a property that will appeal to all members of the family. The 1.4 hectare estate is set within the renowned Terre Blanches golf resort, a mere 25 minutes from the famous Croisette in Cannes.
The property boasts a cinema room, summer kitchen, swimming pool and boules court. With a live-in chef and hostess included in the rental rates, and a capacity to sleep 12 guests, it’s safe to say that all the family will enjoy a holiday at this exclusive retreat!
Beaulieu-sur-Mer is situated between Nice and Monaco, a seaside resort that is blessed with a picturesque setting and history books that are dotted with tales of royalty, movie stars and politicians visiting to enjoy the mild climate.
It is here that you will find Villa Kérylos, one of the French Riviera’s cultural gems that was previously managed by Culturespaces but from January 2016 is now under the management umbrella of the CMN (Centre des Monuments Nationaux). The villa was historically listed in 1966 and becomes the 99th national monument in France to be overseen by the CMN.
Walking in the south of France offers the ideal opportunity to explore a diverse and beautiful landscape whether you are a casual stroller or an ardent hiker. From coastal promenades to mimosa-covered hills, Mediterranean oak forests to alpine valleys, the French Riviera really is a walker’s paradise.
Imagine zooming along curving mountain roads with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair – there’s no better way to explore the south of France than on a driving tour. This part of the world is sexy, sophisticated, sun-drenched and irresistible.
This road was cut through the rock in the 1920s and takes drivers from the seaside town of Nice past the Col de Villefranche to Menton. It was constructed to provide for an increase in aristocratic tourism to the French Riviera in the 1910s and 20s. On this gorgeous road you’ll drive alongside the cliffs and enjoy breath-taking views of the coast. Stop in Eze, a tiny medieval village perched on a rocky peak that is a jewel in the crown of the French Riviera.
This is a beautiful road for enjoying glimpses of the coastline of Southern France, so take your time and allow yourself the chance to stop at many parking areas to observe the gorgeous views and glimpse the amazing luxury yachts at anchor.
The Col de la Bonette
The most amazing road to drive in Southern France is the Col de la Bonette – a famous route through the Alps that is among the highest mountain roads in Europe. As spectacular as the road is, it is actually quite a smooth and pleasant drive. The road surface is well maintained and the gentle sweeping cures of the road are easy to follow. As you climb up from sea level to the higher altitudes you will find yourself leaving the greenery and entering a barren, almost volcanic landscape. At the peak of the route you will have climbed to an altitude of 2807 m.
The road descending the Col de la Bonette is a little more thrilling, feeling more like a race circuit than a normal driving route.
If you’re looking to take in the road as part of a driving holiday, why not include a stay in nearby Nice or Monaco? The Lamborghini Gallardo, with all its power, is a great vehicle by which to summit the road.
La Grande Corniche
This picturesque drive takes you between Nice and Marseille on a stunning sea view route between the two. La Grande Corniche hugs the coastline of the glittering blue Mediterranean and was called the “World’s Most Romantic Road” by The Independent. The road was designed by the L’Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees, in order to provide for the ambition Italian campaign of Napoleon in 1796.
The most beautiful section of the road comes between Eze and Nice, where you will be able to see the jagged Alps in the background, the endless blue sea and the Maures Massif.
Why not take one of these French Riviera driving routes through the stunning scenery in Southern France – an adventure on four wheels that will thrill and enchant you.