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Sea and Ski : Spring Yacht Charters on the French Riviera

When planning a holiday, you normally have to choose between snow and sand, mountain and beach, chalet and superyacht. Not on the French Riviera in spring—one of the few locations on earth where you can enjoy a sea and ski yacht charter.

Snow and Sea in One Holiday?

In the south of France, Alpine ski fields are in close proximity to warm, sunny beaches. The French Riviera is famously known as a destination where you can be hurtling down fresh powder in the morning, only to find yourself relaxing in a Cannes beach club in the afternoon, enjoying the spring sunshine as you drink rose with your feet in the sand.

Yacht charters for the TRUSTECH event in Cannes

A yacht charter than involves snow skiing and beach clubs, art galleries and opera, Michelin-star dining and hill villages, après ski and boutique shopping.

Sunshine, calm seas, and snow. Where else but spring on the French Riviera?

The Logistics of a Sea and Ski Yacht Charter in the South of France

The 2017/18 ski season in France has already been superb, and with snow dumping across Southern France during the ‘Beast from the East’ weather systems and more snowy forecasts for the Alps throughout March, we can expect a long and glorious spring skiing season.

Ski resort at dusk in French Alps

At the same time, spring temperatures warm up on the coast and the yachting season begins, with charters really kicking off around the Easter Break, which begins in late March in 2018.

There are six ski resorts within 2 hours drive of the coast or a short helicopter transfer from Nice or Monaco, and some of the very best spring skiing on the planet is brought into reach with a 90minute helicopter transfer to Val Thorens or Val d’Isere, where spring skiing extends right into May.

Monacair helicopter in Monaco

And when your skiing is done for the day, it’s back to your yacht to float along the French Riviera in the sunshine, looking up at the snow-capped mountains you just skied down. What a thrill!

Whether you choose to use your luxury charter yacht as a base to launch your mountain and sea adventures, or prefer to spend a few nights up at the snow before heading down to the coast to start your yacht charter in Monaco, the truth remains: a snow-sea combination yacht charter is the ultimate way to experience the very best of everything the south of France has to offer.

Here’s an example of a 10 day snow and sea yacht charter down the French Riviera, with 3 ‘snow days’ as well as all the beachy and cultural delights of the coast as you float between Monaco and St Tropez.

Day 1. Join your Ski and Sea Yacht Charter in Glamorous Monaco

Fly into Nice airport, taking in that breathtaking view as you soar over the snowy Alps and the sparkling Mediterranean opens up before you. Normally a keen skier like yourself might be a bit regretful as you passed over the Alps, wondering if you should have booked a skiing holiday, but never fear—on this ski and sea yacht charter you’ll get to do both!

Superyachts in Port Hercule, Monaco

You’ll join your yacht in Port Hercules at lunchtime, and the captain will move the yacht out to sea, where you’ll anchor beneath the cliffs of Monaco and enjoy a lovely lunch on deck in the spring sunshine. Get the wetsuits on and take the jetskis for a spin, or kayak around the beautiful rocky coastline.

The yacht will head back into port and you’ll step ashore for some boutique shopping along the Cercle d’Or, or indulge in a spa session at the spectacular Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo.

Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo

Cocktails and canapes are on your yacht as the lights come on across Monaco, then dress for dinner and step ashore for a 3-Michelin star meal at the opulent Louis XV Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris.

Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, Principality of Monaco

Where to next? A flutter at the opulent Monte-Carlo Casino, or drinks and music at Buddha Bar? You could head on to Jimmy’z, Monaco’s A-list nightclub- but remember, don’t make it too late as you’ve got a day on the mountain tomorrow!

Day 2. Monaco : On the Mountain – Your First Snow Day on Charter

Which ski resort you choose will depend on the spring skiing conditions at the time. What will it be? You might opt for some local skiing at Isola 2000, Valberg or Auron, which are all enjoying excellent snow conditions in March, or further afield to the Three Valleys ski area, where you can ski on the glacier at Val d’Isere right until May.

Valberg Ski Map

A helicopter transfer from Monaco easily brings all these ski fields—and many more—into play, so chat to your captain about where’s best for your first day on the mountain, before getting underway early to enjoy fresh powder.

After a few good runs, lunch is on a mountain terrace, enjoying snowy vistas in the spring sunshine. The view is always amazing on a French Riviera yacht charter, but this is something different altogether!

Ski lift in Isola 2000

Then it’s back on the slopes, finishing off with an apres-ski schnapps at a chalet bar before boarding your helicopter for the short trip back to the coast.

Enjoy an aperitif at the Bar Americain in Monaco before heading back to your yacht for an indulgent dinner prepared by the yacht’s private chef. Watch a movie on the big screen in the sky lounge before retiring to your stateroom and sinking into bed.

The American Bar at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco

Day 3. Cap Ferrat : Exotic Gardens and A Long Rose’ Lunch by the Sea

Today’s a beach day so you can rest those ski-sore muscles. The yacht will take the short cruise to the exclusive headland of Cap Ferrat, where you’ll drop anchor for the day.

Superyachts and fabulous villas on Cap Ferrat

A morning stroll through the magnificent gardens at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a must, followed by a rose lunch at the celebrity-favourite, Paloma Beach Club, which opens for the summer season at Easter. A long afternoon drinking cocktails in the sun from a deckchair stretches out before you, or you might get out on the yacht’s watertoys.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Côte d'Azur

There’s also some great diving off the headland at Cap Ferrat, and a small number of boutiques in Cap Ferrat for a spot of shopping. Other options are an afternoon trip to the clifftop village of Eze, where you’ll want to enjoy an aperitif on the terrace at the fabulous La Chevre d’Or, drinking in that dizzying view of the French Riviera.

Château de La Chèvre d’Or, Eze, France

Dinner is on the yacht in the dining room, looking out at the moonlit sea. Alternatively, you could go ashore for an evening at the opera or ballet in Monaco or Nice.

Day 4. Villefranche and Nice : Medieval Beauty, Museums, and Michelin Star Dining

The next morning the yacht will take the short trip around the headland to the medieval town of Villefranche, which spills down the hillside to the sea. Explore the steep streets and vaulted passageways of the town and enjoy a coffee in the sun on the waterfront. Stroll along the pebbled beach under the pines that fringe the bay, and paddle in the blue-green water. For lunch, head back to the yacht for a meal at anchor, savouring one of the prettiest views in the yachting world.

Restaurants in Villefranche-sur-Mer, French Riviera

In the afternoon the captain will move the yacht to Nice, and you’ll be able to see the snow-capped Alps rise up behind the city. You’ll be back on the mountain tomorrow, but for now there’s Nice to explore.

Take a stroll along the famed Promenade des Anglais, explore the narrow lanes of the Italianate old town, and perhaps visit one of the excellent art museums, such as the Matisse Museum in the hilly suburb of Cimiez. Wine lovers could even visit one of the wineries up in the Bellet hills behind Nice.

Ruhl beach in Nice, France

In the evening, an aperitif at the majestic Hotel Negresco champagne bar is followed up by dinner in the hotel’s 2- Michelin star restaurant, Le Chantecler.

Hotel Negresco in Nice, France

A final stroll along the Promenade des Anglais back to the port is stunning, with your charter yacht lit up against the darkness, and the crew waiting to welcome you back on board with a nightcap.

Day 5. Nice :  On the Mountain – Snow Day 2

Where to today? With so many ski fields in easy reach of Nice, why not pick a different one to visit each snow day of your yacht charter? If you head to Meribel or Courchevel you can enjoy a Michelin star lunch between ski runs, or you might want to ski on the glacier at Tignes, also in the Three Valleys.

Courchevel gondola ski lift

There’s plenty to do for the whole family in the Three Valleys, from snow parks to ziplining to cinemas, making this region a great choice for spring skiing.

After your day on the mountain it’s back to the yacht in Nice for dinner. You might want to explore the lively bar scene of Nice afterwards, or settle in for some movies or board games on the yacht before an early night.

Day 6.  Antibes : Picasso and the Dreamy Hotel du Cap

The cruise along the coast to Antibes is a lovely trip in spring, with the snow-capped Alps creating a spectacular backdrop to the beach umbrellas and cafes that line the pebbled shore of the Bay of Angels.

Superyacht anchored off the old town of Antibes, France

The beach becomes sandy at Antibes, where you’ll explore the medieval old town, visiting its Provencal market and the Picasso Museum on the ramparts where the artist lived and worked after WWII.

The yacht will drop anchor off the Cap d’Antibes, where pine trees shade turquoise coves and gated mansions overlook over the sea. Your lunch table awaits at the famous Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, a storied, celebrity sparkle kind of place which played a significant role in launching the French Riviera as a summertime destination back in the 1920’s.

The hotel is set in stunning gardens with amazing views over the Mediterranean

Enjoy lunch by the sea and a treatment at the 5-star spa, before walking off your meal by taking the absolutely gorgeous coastal path which runs along the cliffs past coves and grand villas to the emerald-green waters of Millionaire’s Bay.

Dinner might be in one of Antibes’ restaurants- Michelin-starred Bacon on the Cap is particularly good, or celebrity favourite Le Michelangelo is also worth a mention. Alternatively, dine on the yacht at anchor off Cap d’Antibes, enjoying the views as the sun sets over the town’s terracotta roofs and towers, turning the snowy Alps to fire.

Day 7. Cannes : Shopping, Spa or Beach club – What’s your Pleasure?

There are so many ways to spend a day in Cannes in spring. The flagship boutiques of Hermes and Dior, Celine and Armani line the palm lined Croisette, and glamorous beach clubs welcome you in for a rose’ lunch at a table on the sand. There’s the spa at Thermes Marins, high tea at the ritzy Hotel Carlton Intercontinental, and fine hotel restaurants for dinner, whether the 2 Michelin star Palme d’Or or one of the cosy restaurants in the Old Town of Le Suquet.

Cannes Port Panorama Croisette

As the evening rolls on, you might like to try your luck at the casino, or wind down the day at the Bar Amiral at the Hotel Martinez, sipping a martini as you listen to the piano. Cannes also has some impressive nightclubs, with the jet-set favouring the Balinese-inspired Baoli in Port Canto.

Day 8. Cannes : Ski field, Island or Hill Village? Choose your Own Adventure!

Your group might split on this day, depending on what they love doing most. Snow bunnies will want to head back up to the mountains for snow day three of skiing or boarding.

Others might enjoy a picnic and a walk in the dreamy Cannes Islands, which are waking up to spring. Wander through the vineyards and visit the monastery on St Honorat, or enjoy the prison fort and desperately pretty coves of St Marguerite. The Cannes Island are another opportunity to get out the yacht’s watertoys and paddle with the kayak or paddleboard, or race along Cannes’ beaches on the jetskis.

Fort Royal on Cannes islands

There’s also the opportunity to explore one of the hill villages behind Cannes: perhaps gastronomic Mougins or arty St Paul de Vence, where lunch at the Colombe d’Or is a must as you dine among artworks by the masters who have stayed here.

Cafe in St Paul de Vence, France

You’ll all reconvene on the yacht in the evening, where you’ll enjoy drinks on the yacht as the sunset paints the Old Town golden. Whether you want to dine ashore or on the yacht is, as always, completely up to you.

Day 9. The Esterel to St Tropez: Red Rock, Blue Sea, Celebrity Glamour

The cruise down to St Tropez is visually stunning. The red rock of the Esterel hills creates a stunning contrast with the turquoise sea, and depending on how early in spring your charter is, much of the coast may still be cloaked in yellow mimosa flower.

Les rochers Esterel south of France

Wide white sand beaches curve around the bay of Saint Tropez, and you’ll drop anchor at Pampelonne Beach, perhaps the most famous strip of beach on earth for its glamorous beach clubs. A few, such as Plages des Jumeaux,  remain open right through winter serving sunny lunches by the sea, while others open in April, kicking the summer season off in fine style.

Plage de Pampelonne in St Tropez

Pampelonne is ideal for watersports or just lazing about on the powder-soft sand, or you might explore the nearby hill village of Ramatuelle, with its pretty streets, art galleries and absolutely magnificent La Ramatuelle spa.

Alternatively, the captain could move the yacht to Porquerolles, a sleepy little island that’s become famous for its sugar white beaches and almost Caribbean vibe.

Port on the island of Porquerolles

As the afternoon fades, it’s time to head into port at Saint Tropez, where the harbour is lined with pavement cafes on the cobblestones and colourful Provencal facades. St Tropez in the spring is as pretty as ever, but without its summertime crowds, and you’ll wander the boutiques of the winding streets before taking a drink at Bar du Port or the Brasserie des Arts.

Luxury yachts in the port of Saint Tropez

You started your yacht charter dining at the 3 Michelin star Louis XV in Monaco, it makes sense that you end it at the Riviera’s only other three Michelin star restaurant, La Vague d’Or, looking out across the Bay of Saint Tropez as your yacht charter enters its dwindling hours.

Day 10. Disembark in Saint Tropez, and One More Glimpse of Snow

Start your final morning with a coffee on the port at Café Senequier, before checking out the Saint Tropez market in Place des Lices. Pick up some local honey, nougat, or wine to take home with you to remember your snow and ski yacht charter along the French Riviera in spring.

Famous red tables at SENEQUIER in St Tropez

Head back to the yacht for a long, languorous brunch on deck, before disembarking at noon to transfer to Nice airport. As you fly away from the coast and bank towards the snowy Alps, you’ll be able to look down on both the mountains you skied down, and the coast you floated along in all its spring splendour.

Who says you have to choose between snow and ski on holiday? With a spring yacht charter on the French Riviera, you really can have it all.

This article was written by Jo Morgan – Jo is a freelance writer for yachts and travel, offering targeted feature articles, content marketing, blogs and press releases for the yachting and travel industries.

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