French Riviera Bareboat Sailing Itinerary
Seven Day Bareboat Itinerary: Cannes, St Tropez and Hyères
There's any number of fabulous destinations that you could head for along the French Riviera, so deciding where to go is no walk in the park. Here's a suggested sailing itinerary for exploring the breathtaking coastline west of Cannes along to St Tropez and beyond to the hidden gem of Hyères.
Board the boat in the morning and stock up on provisions for a full day on the water, ready for a lunchtime departure from either the Cannes Old Port or Port Canto. As you look to the west you'll see the impressive and historic rocky cliffs of the Esterel beckoning you to experience a different side of the Riviera.
Heading out of Cannes you can see the beaches of La Bocca stretching along to Mandelieu and La Napoule. Take out your binoculars to look at the beautiful, romantic and eccentric 14th century Chateau de La Napoule and other architectural delights along the coast. Theoule-sur-Mer, for example, includes another castle and the futuristic Palais Bulles (Palace of Bubbles).
Tack away from the coast to take in the stunning Massif de l’Estérel. This massive, red rock formation is a natural wonder to sail past and a welcome break from the glitz and glamour of Cannes. Relax and enjoy the afternoon sun as you round the Massif, taking a dive into the clear water beneath the cliffs for a refreshing swim. As you round these red rocks, come into the port of St Raphael, Port Sant Lucia.
Stop in the historic St Raphael for a night in the port and recharge your batteries. The centre of town is a short walk from the portand well worth exploring. Alternatively, if Saint Raphael is too much of a stretch for your sea legs, there is the charming Rade d’Agay which provides sheltered moorings from the Mediterranean swell. Take a quick trip ashore to sample some of the beachside restaurants.
From St Raphael, the Gulf of St Tropez is a short sail west and down the coast. You can head out to sea and take advantage of the wind before heading into the Gulf.
Admire the superyachts lying in wait near the mouth of the Port of St Tropez before heading further up and into the Gulf. Revel in the northern ports of the lagoon like Port Grimaud and Medieval Cogolin before heading back to berth in St Tropez. Here you can sample the world famous beach bars and absorb the buzz of this world famous destination.
Leaving the famed area of St Tropez astern, head around Cap Camarat, taking in more incredible views of rock crevices and sheer drops on the Corniche des Maures before coming around the cap to Cavalaire sur Mer. Here you can drop anchor and enjoy lunch in the afternoon sun while watching boats coming to and from the Îles des Hyères. From here, Le Lavandou is but a short sail across the bay and an ideal spot to spend the night with an abundance of restaurants both on the beach front and in the picturesque old town a short walk away.
Stock up on some local treats such as a tart Pissaladiere (a provencal tart of caramelised onions, anchovies and black olives on a yeasty pizza style base), some fresh pastries and some wines from the local vineyards and set off for a day of island hopping – French Riviera style! Legend has it that the gods transformed three swimming princesses into these islands, and the results are stunning when viewed from the sea. Port Cros is a national park and as such retains its natural beauty. Parts of Ile du Levant are designated nudist colonies and therefore it's up to you as to whether or not you'd like to take a closer look.
The largest of the three islands, Porquerolles, offers some beautiful bays for swimming and taking lunch. Despite its tourist pull, it is surprisingly unspoilt with white sandy beaches and beautiful woodland covering the island. It's well worth taking an extended lunch break to rent some bikes and explore the coastal trails and wildlife filled interior of this island.
A great place to stop for the night is Hyères. Once considered the Côte d’Azur’s premier resort, Hyères has managed to retain its charm. The Port of Hyères is located near the beach of La Capte and is a short walk from the centre of town.
Prepare yourself for another day in the magnificent Mediterranean and enjoy incredible views as you start your return journey back to Cannes. Choose to stop for an early lunch or late breakfast at one of the islands before continuing around the Cap Camarat.
Take advantage of the winds and really enjoy a great sail back up the coast to berth in Sainte Maxime. This charming holiday town just across the mouth of the Gulf of St Tropez is a lovely place to stop for the night and explore. Wander through cobbled streets and enjoy a real sense of exploration. Street markets in the evening and a large variety of sea food restaurants make Sainte Maxime a great stop on your return trip back up the coast.
Enjoy the attractions of the port of Sainte Maxime for the morning and take in breakfast at one of the portside cafés before gently heading back up the coast to Fréjus. Take in the stunning views close to the coast or head out to sea and enjoy the wind in your sails before heading into the modern port of Fréjus.
The town of Fréjus is a short taxi ride away, providing another glimpse of the Cote d’Azur’s historic heritage. Take an afternoon to explore this quaint town, dating to Roman times, whilst wandering around cobbled alleys and stopping for a pastis in a sun soaked plaza. Return to the old port and the beach to enjoy an evening market in the summer, before taking in dinner at any one of the port side restaurants.
Leaving the Roman history and gorgeous beaches of Fréjus behind, get an early start to make the most of the day. Heading back up along a familiar coastline, really make the most of your last day at sea heading back to Cannes with an afternoon stop-off at the Iles de Lérins, just off the coast of Cannes. These two islands comprised of Sainte Marguérite and St Honorat provide some more interesting wind channels and an idyllic way to end your week exploring the coast. Ile Sainte Marguérite is home to Fort Royal, famous as the home of the Man in the Iron Mask – whose true identity is still a mystery.
St Honorat, the smaller of the two islands, is inhabited by a cluster of Cistercian monks who reside in the impressive Monastere Fortifié which you can visit and purchase some of the delicious island grown wine. In between these two beautiful islands is a channel with calm waters where you can drop anchor, jump off the boat and enjoy the liberty that bareboat sailing affords you. Relax and enjoy this final leg of your return trip back to Cannes before disembarking the boat a little more tanned, thoroughly relaxed and with some great memories.
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