On-line Guide: Activities on the Riviera: Sailing
Posted May 2018 in Go & Do
The great and good have always sailed along the South of France - King Edward VII a century ago, Keith Richards in the 1970s and in 2015 America’s Cup champ Sir Ben Ainslie. The allure is self-evident. A touch of glamour plus bags of adrenaline, but where to start?
Nice, Cannes and Menton are the nautical centres of the Cote d’Azur. Each town’s yacht club offers five-day ‘stages’, or courses. These can be completed in a week, or over five Saturday mornings in a month. Some courses run in winter and many more are available in summer.
The Club Nautique de Nice is the historical option. Gustave Eiffel, Henri Matisse and tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton were all members. The club house on boulevard Frank Pilatte is the prettiest building in Nice Port. You can book online for a €170 five-lesson Hobiecat course. Teaching is in French, but instructors are also fluent in English.
In Cannes, the Club Nautique Croisette near Palm Beach Casino teaches 6 to 11 year olds to sail tiny boats called Optimists. They may look a bit like floating bathtubs but Sir Ben Ainslie learnt his trade on these unsinkable one-man boats!. It’s €149 for five lessons; a touch more for adults who are let loose on faster two-man Laser Vagos.
In the same area, three times French sailing champion Lydie Vielle also teaches young sailors for €180 for five sessions including a picnic on the fabulous Iles des Lérins.
Menton has the coast’s friendliest sailing school, the Centre Nautique. Choose sailing, donuts, kayaks, paddleboard – whatever takes your fancy! The sight of San Remo in Italy shimmering in the distance only adds to your experience. Too lazy to learn? You’re not alone. For an effortless wind-in-your-hair experience book a license-free speedboat from Dark Pelican in Villefranche. Up to 5 people can enjoy sailing in the sunshine for around €170-190 per day. You can also hire boats with a skipper for a day of nautical indulgence starting from €900.