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Yachting: Article

Celebrity Yacht Charters From Monaco to Saint-Tropez

Picturesque ports on the French Riviera

There's no place in the world that can compete with the glamour of the Côte d'Azur, and there's no better way to experience all it has to offer than from aboard a private yacht. That's why Ivana Trump has cruised there for more than 20 years, and describes it as "heaven on earth."

Summer does not arrive quietly in the south of France. The season kicks off in a flurry of activity with two prestigious fixtures on the international social calendar: the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival. Both take place on one of the most exclusive stretches of coastline in Europe - the Côte d'Azur.

For decades the French Riviera has been synonymous with glamorous people and a jet-set lifestyle. During the summer months there are few places in the world that can boast more celebrities, more parties, or a more cosmopolitan atmosphere than this region of France. From hitting the dance floor at Jimmy'z nightclub in Monaco to a relaxing lunch on Pampelonne Beach in Saint-Tropez, the French Riviera offers plenty of options for your holiday, provided you can keep up with the pace. As with all coastal destinations during the summer, the Riviera can get busy. The best way to avoid the crowds and enjoy the coast is undoubtedly from a luxury yacht.

Ivana Trump has been visiting the French Riviera for over 20 years. She explains why she spends much of the season on her boat, M/Y Ivana: "It's a magical way to spend a summer - privacy at sea, and fun and friends in port."


Ivana Trump on her yacht Ivana

The perfect place to begin your charter is Monaco. Famous for Grace Kelly, the royal family she married into, gambling, and as a tax haven for the incredibly wealthy, the tiny principality is regarded as one of the most elegant places on the planet. Only a short hop from Nice International Airport, by car or helicopter, the minute you set foot in Monaco you can't help thinking of James Bond and Formula One.

Edmiston is a leading yacht charter broker with offices in Monte Carlo. Jamie Edmiston has no doubt why people come to Monaco: "It's the ultimate playground for the rich and famous."

 The casino is Monaco's star attraction. It was built in the mid-19th century when the then prince, Charles III, had to establish an economic base to fund the principality, which had recently split from France. He founded the Société des Bains de Mer which built hotels, a theater, and the casino, which soon became the main feature of the district of Monte Carlo (the secretive Société still owns much of Monaco today). If you want to admire the casino's intricate architecture, then enjoy a coffee or lunch across the square. But if you've got money to burn then head down in the evening to risk it all on the roll of the dice.

Daytime tends to be quiet. Most visitors prefer to take it easy during the day and save their energy for a (very glamorous) night on the town. The Palace of the Prince is well worth a visit, however, and offers fantastic views of the port. If you have children with you, they'll enjoy the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium. You'll find a reasonable selection of shops in the mall near Casino Square in Monte Carlo, but it's well worth waiting until you get to Cannes or Saint-Tropez, which both offer much better shopping.

 The best place to relax for the day and enjoy a spot of lunch is the Monte Carlo Beach Club, which boasts a heated outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool, four restaurants, and a private jetty. If you're after a quick lunch, then grab a burger at Stars and Bars, an American style sports bar near the port.

Nighttime is when the town really comes alive. There are plenty of options for dinner. Most of the big hotels in Monaco have a selection of restaurants offering excellent food and service. Alain Ducasse's three-Michelin-starred restaurant Louis XV, located in the Hôtel de Paris, is generally regarded as the best (and most expensive) restaurant in Monaco.

During the summer, the principality has a thriving social scene with numerous balls and parties (Monaco can seem subdued between conferences and events). The glittering Red Cross Ball, to be held this year on Friday, August 6, is always popular with the yachting crowd, and a night out in Monaco wouldn't be complete without a visit to Jimmy'z nightclub.

 Leaving Monaco by sea will provide you with one of the most striking views and best photo opportunities of your holiday so if your yacht is heading out early, make sure you're up in time to appreciate the view.

After living it up in Monte Carlo you may well crave some respite. There are two picturesque anchorages, Villefranche and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, both a short cruise west along the coast. Both villages are idyllic places to enjoy a quiet day on your yacht or ashore.

 Farther along the coast, before you reach Cannes, lies the Cap d'Antibes. The Cap, immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night, houses the hotel often described as the most fabulous in the world: the Eden Roc. Frequented by stars and royalty, it's well worth asking your captain to anchor off here so you can head in for lunch.

Once you've recharged your batteries and feel ready to hit the town again, the next stop is Cannes.

The English aristocracy were the first to see Cannes' potential as a holiday destination in the 19th century. The International Film Festival began in 1939 and is now in its 57th year. For the duration of the festival Cannes' 70,000 strong population doubles in size so you can imagine how busy it gets. Although it's star-studded and exciting, the film festival is probably not the best time to visit without a specific reason. Apart from the crowds it's almost impossible to get into any of the parties or events without booking well in advance.

 The Bay of Cannes is one of the most popular Mediterranean anchorages in the summer and many visitors prefer to stop here rather than moor in the port of the old town. While the port is reasonably attractive and offers easy access to the shops, if you want to arrive in style, then anchor near the Carlton Hotel and get a ride to shore in your yacht's tender.

Lunch at the Carlton Beach is a must and Le Palme d'Or offers two-star Michelin food with a great view. The best way to enjoy Cannes during the day and soak up the atmosphere is to stroll down the Croisette, the boulevard running along the seafront. This way you can combine two of Cannes' virtues. Simon Heaton has visited Cannes on several occasions as a yacht charter guest, and says, "Two of the best things about Cannes are the people-watching and the shopping."

 In my opinion Cannes is one of the most enjoyable places to shop in Europe. Clean and beautifully laid out (the shops are all on the main street, the Rue d'Antibes, or on the Croisette which runs parallel), there is a fantastic selection of designer shops, boutiques, and chain stores. For shoes head to Jacques Loup on the Rue d'Antibes.

If you want to get out of town for the day, then head to the Iles de Lerins on your yacht. The beautiful islets of St Honorat and St Marguerite are a 15-minute cruise from Cannes but a world away from the busy streets.

 Some of the best places for dining out in the area are located outside the city. There is a plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants a short taxi ride from the center of Cannes. Roger Vergé's Moulins de Mougins is worth a visit as is the famous Colombe d'Or located in Saint Paul de Vence. Just west of Cannes is the town of La Napoule where you'll find Oasis, which offers fabulous dining in a secluded garden restaurant. If you're looking for something more simple, then La Pizza, next to the town hall, is always popular.

For dinner and drinking, Baoli, in Port Pierre Canto, is the hippest place in town with a door policy to match. Opened by Princess Caroline's ex-husband, Philippe Junot, it's a lounge bar, with a restaurant and DJ. Just around the corner you'll find the vast Palm Beach nightclub, where you can dance the night away under the stars.

On Westward to Saint-Tropez
The coastline between Cannes and Saint-Tropez is one of the most unspoiled on the Riviera. One of the first places you come to is Théoule-sur-Mer, a quiet seaside village with clean, uncrowded beaches - a welcome change after the bustle of Cannes and Monaco. Farther along, the coast tends to be rocky, but it's the perfect spot for watersports; if you want to try your hand at windsurfing, snorkeling, or diving, then this is the place.

There has been much speculation in recent years that this former fishing village is no longer as fashionable as it used to be. It's still hugely popular with celebrities and the yachting crowd, however, and Ivana Trump is among other famous names who have recently purchased property here.It remains the ultimate place for epicurean excess in the Mediterranean. Jamie Edmiston believes the town is the perfect place for a yachting holiday. "It's the global centerpiece for glamour," he says.


Ivana Trump in Saint-Tropez aboard her yacht Ivana

First stop, Pampelonne Beach. If you want a quiet anchorage then head up to the southern end of the beach. But if you want to be in the thick of it, and perhaps catch a glimpse of P-Diddy, then anchor off Club 55 and head in for lunch. Club 55 (refer to it as Cinquante Cinq to sound like you know what you're talking about) was put on the map by Brigitte Bardot and film director Roger Vadim in the 1950s. Despite being fantastically busy in high season, lunching at this beach club is still seen as a rite of passage for those visiting the Côte d'Azur. Run by Patrice de Colmont, the menu is known for its simple dishes, grilled fish and salads, and the house speciality, Mille-Feuilles de Poisson.

After a hard day on the beach, pull up your anchor and head 'round to the port. To secure a space for your boat make sure you've booked and get there early. Pampelonne Beach attracts a huge number of vessels during the summer and most people want to moor in the harbor overnight. There are approximately twice as many boats as spaces. Not only is there a frenzied dash from the beach to the town in the late afternoon, but between the hours of 6pm and sunset chaos ensues in the tiny port of Saint-Tropez.

If you're lucky enough to get a space in the main harbor then you're guaranteed to feel like a rock star. Simon Heaton was in Saint-Tropez last summer on the 40m Moonmaiden II. He has mixed feelings about staying there. He says, "You feel very important; everyone's desperate to see who's on the yachts but at the same time you can't really relax because you're constantly being watched."

It's worth spending a day in Saint-Tropez to explore the town. On the narrow back streets you'll find a variety of local markets, 16th century architecture, and a good selection of fashionable boutiques and vintage clothing shops. Saint-Tropez is also known for its art. As a former artists' colony (Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso all painted here), it houses one of the best 20th century art collections outside Paris.

There are a huge number of places to eat in Saint-Tropez. From the fine dining at Alain Ducasse's Spoon and Lei Mouscardins in the port, to simple but delicious fare in local establishments, such as L'Echalote on the rue Allard, most restaurants offer excellent food, service, and fantastic fish dishes.

Saint-Tropez is renowned for its wild nightlife. It's the one place on the Riviera where you can get away with wearing something a little risqué - just make sure it's this season. With its red leather seats and gold leaf tables the legendary Caves du Roi is still the place to be seen. Also popular is the VIP Room where, if you can get in, you can expect to rub shoulders with celebrities.

A yachting holiday allows you to experience the excitement and glamour of the French Riviera, while enabling you to escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquility of the sea. In the words of Ivana Trump: "It really is heaven on earth."

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Most Recent Comments
YV&C News Desk 04/01/06 02:08:52 PM EST

There's no place in the world that can compete with the glamour of the Côte d'Azur, and there's no better way to experience all it has to offer than from aboard a private yacht. That's why Ivana Trump has cruised there for more than 20 years, and describes it as 'heaven on earth.'

International Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine 09/21/05 02:26:48 PM EDT

YV&C's Exclusive Monaco Yacht Show Coverage - From Monaco to Saint-Tropez. There's no place in the world that can compete with the glamour of the Côte d'Azur, and there's no better way to experience all it has to offer than from aboard a private yacht. That's why Ivana Trump has cruised there for more than 20 years, and describes it as 'heaven on earth.'

International Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine 09/21/05 11:04:03 AM EDT

Monaco Yacht Show 2005 Coverage - From Monaco to Saint-Tropez. There's no place in the world that can compete with the glamour of the Côte d'Azur, and there's no better way to experience all it has to offer than from aboard a private yacht. That's why Ivana Trump has cruised there for more than 20 years, and describes it as 'heaven on earth.'