The Ultimate French Riviera Sailing Itinerary

One-Week Sailing Holidays in Côte d’Azur from

Le Lavandou (Bormes-les-Mimosas)

The French Riviera is beautiful, sophisticated, authentic, but above all, intensely blue. That’s what marks the alluring south-eastern coast that standing out in France and in the Mediterranean for its blue-coloured sea which gives its name to this area, the Côte d’Azur. It is especially renowned for harbouring the most luxury yachts and the most famous jet-setters looking for the exclusive and stylish atmosphere of towns like Cannes, Monaco, an St Tropez. However, there are also quaint and serene resorts villages, such as St Raphaël, Bormes-les-Mimosas, and the island of Porquerolles.

Since the early 60’s the Côte d’Azur has enchanted world-famous movie stars and jet-setters as well as famous artists such as Chagall, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, and Renoir. But first things first. Where is the French Riviera located? The French Riviera is located in the southern France region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is the Mediterranean coastline which starts at the border of the Italian Ligurian Riviera. It officially begins after Ventimiglia in Italy and goes on up to Cassis where the Calanques and the coast of Marseille begin.

Climate and Sailing Conditions

In the Côte d’Azur, the climate is typically Mediterranean with beautiful weather from May to October. Summers are dry and hot, with highs about 35 °C (95 °F) in July and August, but fortunately, the temperatures are generally pleasant due to the influence of the sea and its breeze. Winters are pretty mild, even if the temperature can low at 7 °C (45 °F), in January, besides cold and windy days that can occur in from January to March. Rainfalls are more abundant in the eastern area mainly between October and April, while on the western side they tend to decrease. Snow and frost are sporadic.

Winds

The winds usually come from the northwest. However, sailors should always take into account the Mistral, the intense cold northwesterly wind. It blows mainly in winter but can, occasionally, blow on the coasts during the summer, presenting some danger. Sometimes it can reach 185 km/h. However, it can be said that in summer is less intense and not as frequent as the southeast wind. The frequency of the winds dictates the sailing season, which comes from May to September.

French Riviera Sailing Itinerary

Day 1. Le Lavandou – Île de Porquerolles

Restaurant in a narrow street of Bormes-les-Mimosas, France, with coloured flowers and stairs
Credits: Flickr – mau.photo

Day one of this exciting French Riviera sailing itinerary, and it couldn’t have had a better start! You will find your boat moored in the beautiful port of Lavandou, close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, the most colourful village in Provence, literally invaded by flowers. The town is a real maze of narrow streets and tunnels that almost always lead to surprising corners and small squares. With the view facing the sea, Bormes looks like a typical village on the Côte d’Azur, but the architecture is of a real Provençal village. It is located on a hill a bit far from the port, so you can visit it before starting your sailing holidays or at the end. But make sure you visit it!

Later, start your French Riviera sailing itinerary cruising towards Hyère archipelago. Take advantage of the many moorings available to discover the vegetation and local tourism. Visit the beautiful Porquerolles. You can also walk the numerous routes to get to know the five fortresses of the island. Take advantage of this stop to relax on the dreamy beaches like Argent beach, Grande Plage and Plage Notre-Dame.

Day 2. Île de Porquerolles – Port Cros

Plage de Notre Dame, Porquerolle, Hyère archipelago, Côte d'Azur

Continue your sailing journey towards the island of Port Cros, the smallest island of the Hyère archipelago and the most protected. Unlike Porquerolles, where you can rent a bike to visit the island, here any vehicle is forbidden. Port-Cros is classified as a National Park and offers exceptional fauna and flora. You will find numerous moorings and coves where you can swim in and relax.

Day 3. Port Cros – Cassis

All the French Riviera is dotted with beautiful seaside villages, and Cassis is undoubtedly one of them! It is a small fishing town of Provence suitable for who are seeking an authentic and evocative corner of the Côte d’Azur. The historic centre has pastel-coloured houses and small streets that connect the old port with the upper part of the city. From the main square, you can admire the mighty Castel perched on the rocky hill. Take a break after visiting the town because on the day after you will set a course for one of the most surprising places of the French Riviera.

Day 4. Cassis – Calanque National Park

Aerial shot of Calanque d'En-Vau, France with boats sailing
Credits: Flickr – Rémi Avignon

Get ready for your fifth days of this French Riviera sailing itinerary because you will visit a beautiful landscape of mountains and sea, the Calanque National Park! It is a land and Marine Park of more than 43.000 hectares of about 20 km of coastline. In it, there are about 200 species of protected animals. Nobody can resist the fascination of these vertically jagged cliffs rising from the turquoise sea. Sormiou, En-Vau, Port-Pin, and Port-Miou are just some of these fantastic inlets carved in these majestic rocks.

Day 5. Calanque Natural Park – Marseille

Vieux Port, Marseille, France
Credits: Flickr – Louis

We arrived in the oldest city in France: Marseille. Founded by the Greek in the 600 B.C. it has always been a crossroad of people and migration flows. The cultural influences, though, together with its position, and the rich historical past mak it one of the most exciting cities in the Mediterranean. The history and life of Marseille are profoundly rooted and link to the sea its port. Not far from the city centre there are the Calanques, but on the seaside, you can find numerous stands selling fish and famous soap, as well as restaurants and museums. There are so many things to visit that we recommend you to spend the whole day strolling around.

Day 6. Marseille – La Ciotat

On the way back, moor at La Ciotat, in the middle of a great gulf, named Gulf of Amur. After walking around its seaside promenade, its enchanting little beaches, and reminiscent fishing harbours also visit the numerous historical attraction spread throughout the city centre. Then, jump onboard and make for the Île Verte, a small uninhabited island whose waters are plenty of different fishes species. Drop anchor and enjoy the peace and the silence of this place far from the crowds!

Day 7. La Ciotat – Bormes-les-Mimosas

Last day of this French Riviera sailing Itinerary! After leaving the boat, take time to visit Le Lavandou. It is an authentic fishing village located at the foot of the Maures mountains. The environment, with a typical lush Mediterranean vegetation, is protected, but the town is a modern complex offering a wide range of leisure, entertainment, shops, and restaurant.

 

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