Pearls by the Sea: The French Riviera’s Most Beautiful Buildings

Pearls by the Sea: The French Riviera's Most Beautiful Buildings 1

The French Riviera is a kaleidoscope of architecture and colour with honey-toned maisonettes dotted with flower boxes, village townhouses with mosaic sundials and opulent villas splashed with pastel accents and Renaissance columns.

With spectacular scenery along the coastline from Saint Tropez to the Italian border and over 300 sunshine days each year, many of the region’s beautiful buildings are best seen from the sea where lush gardens sprawl down to the coastal rocks or sea view terraces beckon visitors to sunbathe in the Côte d’Azur’s golden light.

A gorgeous sea view takes luxurious living to another level when you have a crisp glass of Provençal rosé in hand and a chance to find a slice of paradise whenever you desire!

Old world charm on the Croisette

From the porphyry rust-red cliffs of L’Ésterels coastline to Palm Beach, there are many spectacular anchorages leading to and from glitzy Cannes. Infamous for a hefty dose of Riviera chic and cash-imbibed glamour, the Croisette is a well-known boulevard for hosting swanky addresses where luxury is de rigeur.

Amidst the designer boutiques and palm trees, the yesteryear of Belle Époque architecture and big dreams sits boldly at the many palace hotels. Midway between Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto at opposing ends of the Croisette, the five-star InterContinental Carlton Cannes takes centre stage with film stars, royalty and high society.

Indeed, the hotel’s motto ‘Live with the times and leave a mark on history’ is suitably apt and ensures a steady stream of yacht charter clients who step over the threshold of the famous façade into a time capsule of elegance.

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The life aquatic on the Cap d’Antibes

Arriving by tender to the beautiful Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Cap d’Antibes is an exercise in harmony. Overlooking the Mediterranean towards the Lérins Islands, the setting is something mythical.

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Of course, guests are charmed by the legendary salt water infinity pool, the magnificent buildings and the breathtakingly pretty Grande Allée, but it is the sense of sophistication that envelops you as the Mediterranean breeze wafts the scent of pine and roses down to the sea.

The hotel’s reputation holds a refined status; much like the sleek yachts that cruise quietly amongst the coves of the desirable Cap d’Antibes headland, seeking a coveted moment between luxury and landscape.   It’s a perennial favourite with the A-list crowd; make sure you book ahead if you intend to go ashore for a long lunch or simply go there and pass time with a cocktail at Bar Bellini.

Perfect sea views & privacy

Béatrice de Rothschild and a team of gardeners and landscape architects joined forces to create the aesthetically beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, visible from the yachting bays of Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

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Bathed in rose pink, the Villa rises above the hilltop like a candy floss Garden of Eden with fountains, antique statuary and themed gardens including Spanish, Florentine and Japanese. It seems there are more flowers here than the entire Cote d’Azur, scenting the air with a mix of tropical blossoms and salt air.

Say goodbye to cramped quarters if you buy real estate on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat isthmus; most of the mansions are multi-level and many have magnificent sprawling properties with established gardens, perfect for privacy and seclusion. History and architecture lovers will appreciate seeing the lavish villas and properties from the sea, everywhere from Villa Les Cèdres to Villa La Voile is a historic footprint of the luxury development of this exclusive coastline.

If you’re keen to continuing soaking up the Riviera lifestyle, the bays surrounding the peninsula are a perfect location to spend an afternoon dabbling in thrilling water sports or lounging on the top deck of your private yacht.

Grecian beauty at Villa Kérylos

A world away from today’s yachting hotspots of Saint Tropez and Cannes, French archaeologist Théodore Reinach built a replica of an Ancient Greek house in the early 1900’s overlooking the picturesque Baie des Formis in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Decorated with antique furniture, mosaics and frescoes, it is a stunning vision from the sea with a backdrop of the mountains leading to Eze village and views across to Monaco and the pleasure boats at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Historically listed, Villa Kérylos should be admired for its sheer uniqueness on the French Riviera as it seems a place where even Apollo would deem suitable to go on his last ever adventure.

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Royal heritage in Monaco

With a number of high-profile events annually and two busy ports, Monaco is one of the most dynamic places to visit by luxury yacht.

Regal buildings aren’t hard to find for any curious yacht charter guest – the Palais Princier crowns the square above Port Fontvieille and even the Monaco Yacht Club was designed by architectural ‘royalty’, Lord Norman Foster, who has been awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture (Royal Institute of British Architects) and the French Academy of Architecture Gold Medal.

While it’s tempting to stay put and enjoy the surroundings on land, one of the loveliest views from the sea is the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Founded by the Prince Albert I, great grandfather of H.S.H. Prince Albert II, this natural history museum-aquarium is built into the cliffside of Le Rocher and looks simply stunning as the sunlight is fading and the Monaco skyline illuminates.

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Classic & contemporary in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

Booking a yacht charter on the French Riviera is about as luxurious as you can get. So, whether you prefer relaxing with family for a fortnight or escaping for a stylish honeymoon for a week, a private yacht gives you the personal attention you deserve and the option to live it up as you wish or decompress from daily rituals if you want to be anything but busy.

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is the ebb to nearby Monaco’s flow; a pretty headland with a lovely coastal pathway and a sprinkling of seaside restaurants. At first glance, you may not notice much but dig deeper and you’ll see an underrated yachting destination on the French Riviera.

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From your yacht, the Belle Époque mansions ashore hint at grandiosity and opulence but this area is relaxed and worth discovering. Don’t miss visiting the medieval château in Roquebrune village or seeing Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Le Corbusier’s Le Cabanon that are the thinking person’s antithesis to classic Renaissance architecture – modernist, escapist and inspiring.

It seems, when you need to define luxury, the French Riviera still has some secrets up its sleeves.

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