Sailing the Cote d'Azur from Monaco on board the Royal Clipper
I arrived in Monaco, home to more expensive yachts than you can imagine, on board the one ship that can make the owners of these floating gin-palaces stop and stare – the superb five-masted tall ship Royal Clipper!
Multi-million pound luxury yachts pale into insignificance beside the dramatic spectacle of Royal Clipper under full sail – all 42 sails billowing majestically in the breeze. My home for just 2 nights, this beautiful ship makes a lasting impression, and to my mind it’s the best way to enjoy the glamour of France’s Cote d’Azur.
I was lucky enough to visit Monaco just 2 weeks before the Grand Prix and enjoyed seeing the preparations for this hair-raising race well under way, with grandstands and barriers fencing off hair-pin bends and long straights – you can almost hear the noise of the cars roaring past the magnificent buildings of Monte Carlo. In the port, crew are cleaning yachts in preparation for their owners’ trackside viewing, but the Royal Clipper still dominates the harbour in her unique splendour. We set sail from Monaco at midnight and looking at the lights glinting behind us, you can imagine the sophisticated nightlife of Monte Carlo pausing to take in the sight.
Arriving in St Tropez the following day, two unexpected treats awaited us. The first was the Star Clipper (Royal Clipper’s slightly smaller, but no less impressive, sister ship) alongside. What an unparalleled experience – two beautiful tall masted ships sailing together along the exquisite French Riviera.
The second surprise of the day was the picturesque port of St Tropez, playground of the rich and famous. I was expecting the bustling harbour, brimming with shiny yachts and surrounded by expensive bars, but I wasn’t anticipating the beautiful old town with its honey-coloured buildings, unique shops and real French atmosphere. From the old men playing boules in the park to the traditional bars lining tranquil, cobbled streets, this was the truly delightful side of St Tropez.
Disembarking Royal Clipper the next morning with a camera full of memories, I look forward to one day reliving this thrilling sailing experience in another of the Mediterranean’s most dazzling regions.