The Côte d’ Azur epitomises luxury and has some of the world’s most exclusive sailing ports – from fairy tale Monaco and Monte-Carlo, Cap Ferrat, Nice, Antibes, Cannes and further along the coast to St Tropez. The Mediterranean season is centred around this region and it is easy to see why: Beyond the glittering nightclubs and casinos, haughty boutiques, fabled hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants there are relaxed beach clubs, ancient fishing villages, cheerfully casual markets, and tiny delicatessens jammed with locally produced delights. And the blue waters of the Mediterranean lap a coastline that offers innumerable sheltered bays, anchorages and a good selection of marinas.
Best time to go
May to September
Cannes, Nice, Monaco
Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, although the French are tolerant of all faiths.
Beachwear is fine on the beach or on the yacht, but elsewhere smart-casual and elegant are the way to go. At times, some of the smarter restaurants look more like a fashion parade than somewhere to get a meal, but that is half the joy of being on the Côte d’Azur.
There are so many events on the Cote d’Azur throughout the year, that there isn’t enough room here to list them all. However, among the main attractions are fireworks festivals in Cannes and Monaco (July and August), yacht shows in Antibes (April), Cannes (September) and Monaco (October), the Cannes Film Festival in May, the Monaco Grand Prix in May, and sailing regattas in Antibes in June and St Tropez in September.
The international airport for the Côte d’Azur is Nice. Helicopter shuttles run from Nice airport to the heliports at Monaco, Cannes and St Tropez for between €115 and €280 per person, and takes six minutes to Monaco or Cannes, and around 20 minutes to St Tropez.
Customs, Immigration and Visas
Other than the valid passport, EU citizens need no other documentation. Visitors from outside the EU may need a French visa depending on where they are coming from. Many countries have a visa-waiver agreement with France that allows visitors to stay for up to 90 days. Check with the French consulate in your country if you are in any doubt.
Departure and other taxes
Being part of the EU, there are no restrictions on imports from other EU countries for EU citizens. Other nationals may import items totalling €430, along with the usual duty-free allowances (200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer, etc).
From mobile phones, dial 112 for all services. From land-lines dial:
EU citizens are entitled to free medical care on production of their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). Hospitals along this coast are generally very good, and can be found in the main cities and the larger tourist resorts. Local pharmacies are excellent, and will cater to minor medical requirements.
Mosquitoes in the summer months; sandflies on the sandy beaches; jellyfish can be abundant during the summer. For jellyfish stings, received wisdom recommends: rinse affected area with sea water (not soft water), remove any remaining sting with pincers. Do not rub the sting. In severe cases the venom can be neutralised with vinegar or hot sea water. Analgesic medication soothes pain.
Transport on shore
For local destinations, taxis are cheap and the best way to get around. If you need to go further afield, a hire-car is the way to go. All the major car hire companies are represented in most towns, and your marina should be to help you with this. The coast road is generally pretty slow, so don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry.
Theft of personal possessions is not uncommon on the Côte d’Azur – so sensible precautions apply. Be aware of a dim possibility of ‘snatch and grab’ thefts at traffic lights. Drugs are forbidden and it is illegal to travel when drunk (including by foot). Crime in Monaco is considered rare.