French Riviera - Cotes d'Azur Planning Tips and Fast Facts
Discover Panache and Pleasure in The Yachting’s Favorite Playground
Our Expert Opinion
The Cote D’azur continues to be one of the more treasured summer charter destinations. From glitz and glamor to peace and plenty, the entire area is a feast for the eyes and a mecca of culinary delight
Located on the Mediterranean coastline of southeastern corner France, the Côte d'Azur is popularly known as the French Riviera. Its 12,124 square miles (31,400 square km) of area also covers the independent microstate of Monaco. Though the region has no official boundaries, it is believed to range from the Italian boundary in the east to Saint-Tropez, Hyeres, Toulon, or Cassis in the west.
The Cote d’Azur has been populated since prehistoric times and over the years has been inhabited and influenced by many cultures - the Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, the Barbarians, and the Catalans. Until the late 1700s, the coastline was remote with inhabitants scrabbling together a living through fishing, farming, and producing olive oil and flowers for perfume. Around 1765, the British aristocracy “discovered” the coast as a warm weather winter remedy for many ailments including consumption, and doctors actually prescribed traveling to the South of France as a treatment program. Hence, the first coastal resort in Europe was born.
Nobleman, artists, writers and politicians followed, building an enclave of villas for their winter escape. When the railway arrived 100 years later, royalty from all over Europe flocked in. The Prince of Wales arrived with the royal yacht “Britannia” and a lively yachting club ensued. Artists including Matisse, Picasso and Renoir soon followed, drawn by the beauty of the natural light and divine climate.
Following World War I, Americans began arriving, and the destination transformed to a summer getaway spot for high society. The area was occupied by Germany during World War II and resurged slowly after the end of the war. The Cannes Film Festival began in 1946, showcasing French films to the world market, and Bridget Bardot put St. Tropez on the map with her film, And God Created Woman”. The new “jet set” travelers as well as international celebrities adopted the Riviera as its vacation playground.
Today, vacationers from all backgrounds enjoy its beaches, cobbled alleys and historic sights. 50% of the world’s superyachts are believed to cruise through its waters every summer.
By Air: Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport (NCE) is the biggest gateway of the French Riviera. Direct flights to Côte d'Azur are available from the United States and the United Kingdom while connecting flights can be availed from Australia and New Zealand.
Best Time to Go
The best months for a yacht charter vacation are from May through early October. July and August are the peak summer months and the busiest. The French Riviera has a Mediterranean climate that remains pleasant throughout the year.
Local Customs to Observe
Handshakes are the most common way of greeting each other at the French Riviera, while friends greet each other with light kisses on each other's left and right cheeks respectively. 'Bonjour' and 'Bonsoir' are used to wish good morning and good evening to the local people. Although many people along the coast speak English, an attempt to speak the basics in French is appreciated and quickly turns annoyance into smiles.
Helpful Fast Facts
Time Zone: Central European Time (UTC+01:00)
Local language: French is the official language of the region, though, you would also find many people, including visitors and businessmen in the hospitality industry, speaking fluent English on the coasts.
Population: 64,608,638 as of April 12, 2016
Airport: Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport (NCE)
Entry Requirements: According to the French tourism rules and regulations, every traveler should have a valid passport. However, the US, UK, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian nationals are not required to carry a visa to visit French Riviera.
Departure tax: None
Legal Drinking Age: Age 16 for beer and wine. For hard liquor, the legal drinking age is 18-years-old.
Smoking Regulations: On February 1, 2007, smoking at indoor places like schools, government buildings, offices, factories and airports was banned while in the second phase of the ban, on January 1, 2008, the government imposed a complete prohibition on smoking at hospitality venues like restaurants, casinos, cafes and bars.
Staying in touch: The network connectivity is very good at most of the places. International roaming facility and
internet services are also available in the territory.
Medical Information: Dial 112 for life threatening situations\The call and ambulance service are free of cost according to the French rules.
Public Holidays: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Good Friday (March), Easter Monday (March), Labor Day (May 1), Victory Day (May 8), Whit Monday (May 16), National Day (July 14), Assumption Day (August 15), All Saints' Day (Nov 1), Armistice Day (Nov 11) and Christmas (Dec 25).
Shopping Information: The shopping options are endless throughout the Riviera. Alizarin is the most popular place to buy olive-infused products while you would find the best hand-blown glassware at Verrerie de Biot. Traditional Provencal linens and goods are sold everywhere. Nice has a thriving open air market. You can also purchase local products in the narrow side streets. There are several shops at the airport to buy duty-free jewelry, clothes & cosmetics.
Top Ten "Must Do's"
Wander the alleyways of the old city of Antibes and visit the Picasso Museum
Sunbathe at one of the world's most scenic beaches at St-Tropez
Take selfies with international superstars at Cannes International Film Festival
Visit the medieval village of Èze
Escape to the unspoiled, highly protected Ile de Porquerolles where cars are prohibited
Gamble at a few of the most lavish Monte Carlo casino
Take a side trip to the lavender fields of Grasse and buy locally made perfume
Visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and explore its magnificent gardens
Hunker down with a café au lait and watch the local gents play a game of boules
Get wet at the weekly “champagne spray” party at Nikki Beach in St. Tropez
Major Local and Regional Events
ATP Masters Series (April) – Tennis Grand Slam happens every year in Monte Carlo
Cannes Film Festival (May)
Monaco Grand Prix (May)
Nice Jazz Festival (July) – organized at Place Massena and the Theatre de Verdure in Nice.
Festival Pyrotechnique (July-August) – a firework competition between countries at Cannes
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