Like a red rose or a bouncing baby, the French Riviera has nearly been canonized into cliche — its coastline synonymous with beauty; its cities the definition of color and culture. Still, there is much to discover beyond the well-traveled beaches and tourist destinations in the South of France. Here are some things you may not have known about the French Riviera. Use these to inspire your next (or first!) trip to this iconic location.
It’s becoming home to more global travelers than locals. Though the area has its origins as a resort for British aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries, it evolved throughout the years to become far more than a tourist destination — but a home for the global elite. Elton John, Bono, Tina Turner, and Rod Stewart are just a few examples of the people who have made homes here over the years. If you’ve ever considered making this area your home, think about touring the coastline by yacht first to get a feel for which areas best suit your tastes and interests.
You can still get your beach time in the off-season if you know where to look. According to T + L magazine, though most of the French Riviera’s beaches shut down in the fall, about 30 remain open all year. Among the ones that remain open include Plage Beau Rivage and Blue Beach near Nice, and L’Écrin and Plage Goëland in Cannes. Even if it’s too chilly to shed your layers and sunbathe along the coast, you’ll find the tradeoff is the amount of other people around — while the beaches in summer are crammed with global travelers, you can get some peace and solitude during the off season.
St. Honorat Island features a vineyard with wine tastings and tours. This tiny island near Cannes is famous for its secluded woods and historic monasteries, but it also plays host to a 20-acre vineyard where several different grape varieties are hand-harvested and made into wine. Book a tour and a tasting on the vineyard’s website, and enjoy this less-traveled destination with your friends or family.
The modernist architectural movement was a major theme here in the 20’s and 30’s. It’s no secret that the French Riviera is a colorful mix of old and new, and some of the greatest painters including Matisse and Van Gogh frequented the area for inspiration. However, the region is also home to some remarkable modernist architectural structures. Famous architect and artist Le Corbusier designed his home here, an unusual log cabin-style bungalow in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. According to a T + L article by Michael Z. Wise, Eileen Gray prototyped a modern villa with a nautical theme called “E. 1027.” In Cap Ferrat, find the seaside home of British architect Norman Foster.
A simple walk may be the finest form of leisure. If you’d rather skip the heavy tourist traffic of top sites like Nice’s Castle Hill or the Villa and Gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild, there are endless spots for scenic promenades — both rural and urban. The Promenade des Anglais is rated #3 on the list of top activities in Nice, and it features year-round scenery for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. In Cannes, try La Croissette and Le Suquet, and in St. Tropez, check out Escalet Beach and the St. Tropez Harbor.
The Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco came about in the 1800s to save the country from bankruptcy. What you know of today as the area’s only (and impressive) gambling megaplex was once a last-ditch effort for Princess Caroline and Prince Florestan I to save the House of Grimaldi from bankruptcy. The establishment was built in 1856, but it wasn’t until 1859 that it started to make a profit.
Ready to get your share of these exciting destination points, and discover the other unexplored corners of this part of the world? For the utmost in luxury, consider a yacht charter to the French Riviera to explore the coastline one stop at a time. A yacht charter is a perfect way to independently traverse from one aesthetic to the other — all at your own pace with freedom.
Start your research by calling an experienced yacht broker, or read up on what to expect out of the yacht chartering process.