Could there be anything more appealing than a week or two spent relaxing on a French sailing trip? It is time to forget about backpacking holidays and getting back to basics because luxury travel is making a return, and the French coastline is at the heart of the revival. There really is no better way to experience this part of the world than on a fully stocked boat plotting a course across the Mediterranean.
As a sailing prospect, the French coastline has so much to offer, from unspoiled island paradises to rugged rocky coves, beautiful beaches, and sprawling cosmopolitan havens such as Nice and Cannes. There is something for everybody here, whether they have a penchant for celeb spotting (Brangelina have a villa in the south of France, and Scottish party donor Lord Laidlaw loves to sail his yacht along the coast), enjoy strolling through historic towns, or just love kicking back on a posh boat.
This guide to sailing trips along the French coastline will help you to plan an itinerary that turns into a holiday to remember.
Cannes to Saint-Raphaël
The first stretch of this suggested itinerary should embark from the Old Port of Cannes. Once out of the harbor and ready to start the day, head to the west and towards the rather magnificent craggy peaks of the Esterel. As you sail away from Cannes, you will be able to spot the popular beaches of La Bocca, which span all the way from Mandelieu to La Napoule – look hard enough and you might even spy the unique and secluded 14th-century Château de la Napoule nestled in the hills.
Now, move out from the coastline and enjoy the sight of Massif de l’Esterel, a huge red rock formation that would not look out of place in the wilds of the US. It is a truly remarkable thing to behold, so you might want to take it slow for this part of the trip. You could even take a pit stop and enjoy a swim. Once you turn the corner and leave the rocks behind, you will reach the port of Saint-Raphaël, where you can stroll the historic streets and enjoy a fish supper.
Île du Levant to Hyères
If you prefer something even more rugged, embark from Le Lavandou (after scooping up some much needed supplies), and prepare yourself for a day of wild island hopping – in style, of course. There is a legend known to the people here that says the gods turned three princesses into the craggy set of islets that line the coast. While you can reach them from the coast in a smaller boat, they look far more spectacular from a true sailing vessel out on the sea.
The biggest of the islets, Porquerolles, provides some wonderful opportunities for wild, but safe, swimming and maybe even a barbecue on the sand. You will be surprised to find out just how secluded these islets and beaches can be – they are well known to tourists, but the effort involved with reaching them means many stay away.