Is the ambiance you crave from your yacht charter in France more boulangeries than boutiques? Then consider these lesser-known destinations tucked away between archetypal French Riviera hotspots and perennial Corsica favorites, providing you with a marvelous fusion of both.
Whilst it can be sometimes choppy in this part of the Côte d'Azur, Sanary-sur-Mer is the exception
Sandwiched between Marseille and Toulon, Sanary-sur-Mer doesn't always get as much attention as its glossier French Riviera counterparts. Partly as it can get quite choppy down this end of the Côte d'Azur. But this seaside resort is the exception: plage de Portissol is a pure, sugary rug of a beach fringed by tamarisk trees, and completely sheltered by the sometimes temperamental Mistral wind.
Pass an idle lunch at the harborfront whilst on your way to buzzy Bandol, admiring the village's lovingly restored pointus (wooden boats) and their luminously bright interiors bouncing off the shimmering water. Wander along its promenade too — a perfectly formed miniature of Nice's sprawling masterpiece.
Thrumming with color and life, Sanary-sur-Mer also happens to be home to a world-famous food market — select some of Provence's sun-ripened produce for your chef to cook later.
An unsung hero of the French Riviera, this mellow seaside resort (located inside a protected bay) has remained a glitz-free Provençal sanctuary for decades. And it's certainly one locals like to keep hush-hush about.
There's a throng of beaches, but plage de Renecros is where the lavender-infused douceur de vivre of Bandol can be best appreciated. Willows sigh in the gentle breeze along this fine arc of sand, bordered by translucent emerald waters. It's soothingly calm, and an ideal pick if you have children. But daredevils can also have fun if you drop anchor further afield: Bandol has splendid conditions for windsurfing, kayaking or water skiing.
Don't forget to sample one of the town's velvety reds too — its vineyards are highly revered. And while in the area it would be amiss to not cruise towards nearby Île de Bendor: a sliver of an islet less than a mile long that was once a place of exile. Bought by pastis kingpin Paul Ricard in 1950 — the founder of the tipple of the Côte d'Azur — he carefully cultivated it into a dreamy getaway for friends. It's row of uber-chic restaurants and boutiques daubed in corals still stand.
A surprisingly unblemished beauty, given it's only a champagne cork pop away from Cannes.
Shouldered by the soaring, russet-hued Esterel mountains and situated on a natural cove, Théoule-sur-Mer is a surprisingly unpopulated beauty, given it's only a champagne cork pop away from Cannes. You'll adore its innumerable sapphire-blue inlets for a sedate swim, as well as the majestic Pointe de l’Aiguille beach, where you'll be in prime position to marvel at the French Riviera gems twinkling in the distance.
Onshore, catch a glimpse of eccentric designer Pierre Cardin's former residence. A quirky local attraction, it's an undulating, pink bubble of a home that perches precariously on the rocky outcrop.
Silhouetted by glowing, flame-colored cliffs as shrub hurtles down the hillside in big cloudy tufts, with the odd cow convening on the languid shore: Girolata is a magical world of its own. Situated on the southernmost tip of a UNESCO World Heritage reserve in Corsica and completely inaccessible by car, Girolata usually eludes the masses. Though it does tend to become a little busier during high summer, when cruises disembark in the next village. But even then, yacht charters still have a keen advantage, being able to enjoy Girolata practically all to themselves in mornings and evenings – and it's well worth an overnight stop.
Delving into its underwater grottos is an otherworldly experience, and whilst in the waters, you might find you're greeted by a traveling pod of dolphins. Gourmands will also have a whale of a time too at one of its only restaurants, stippled into the bottom of the brooding escarpment. It would be almost criminal to not order the Scandola lobster, plucked from the waters in the cold husk of dawn.
You can certainly sip pastis in peace on this island — which is another purchase made by the liquor mastermind Paul Ricard
You can be sure to sip pastis in peace on Île des Embiez, which just so happens to be another island purchase by made by the liquor mastermind Paul Ricard back in 1957.
Located adjacent to Bandol, this diminutive isle complete with a bijou port is the perfect antidote to the Riviera rush. Vehicles are strictly forbidden here: this is strictly the domain of flora and fauna. And only a handful of quietly cool restaurants are open. Come spend a dozy afternoon discovering its gloriously wild inlets that unfurl into pools of clear turquoise, ideal for a snorkel, or laze on one of its sandy beaches watching the glittering brouhaha from a distance.
Photo credits: left @lesglobeuses, right: @theo_lightwood
For guests looking to book a yacht charter this year in the French Riviera or Corsica, we advise that you consult your chosen yacht charter broker as soon as possible. Availability this season is especially limited, due to many outstanding bookings from 2020 being rolled over to 2021, so acting quickly should be your top priority.