France is a country blessed with thousands of years of history, culture and society, from the Celtic period to the Roman province of Gaul, the French nations’ formative years from Charlemagne to the French Revolution, its rise and fall as an imperial power and its current status as a tourist hotspot and cultural trendsetter, there’s a lot to see and do in France, and it’s unlikely a single person could ever see all of it in their lifetime. Every corner of France has its own feel to it, but one that has resonated with the international community for over 200 years has been the French Riviera, a section of south-eastern France extending to Italy.
What attracts people to the French Riviera, or the Côte d’Azur has varied in its history as one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world. The area was frequented by British aristocrats at the end of the 18th Century, favoured as a winter resort due to its pleasant climate. At this time, it was almost exclusive to the aristocracy of the period due to the expense of travelling to the area without any of the mass transportation methods we now take for granted, but with the invention and popularisation of the railway during the 19th century, the area suddenly became host to the royalty of Europe.
Within months of the first direct rail link to the Riviera, Alexander II of Russia, Napoleon III of France and Leopold II of Belgium visited the area. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was a frequent visitor alongside her entourage of up to 100 people. Her son, Edward VII, would also visit the area frequently during his time as the Prince of Wales. We can already see the region becoming a tourist hotspot, not just through the patronage of European royalty but the creation of tourist attractions, such as the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco, the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, yachting clubs throughout the region and a burgeoning nightlife culture.
The Riviera’s association with royalty and aristocracy didn’t last long into the 20th century, as the various royal families of Europe lost power or were overthrown in the fallout of the First World War. Nevertheless, the region quickly played host to increasing numbers of Americans, mostly industrialists and celebrities, while authors, painters and poets moved to the area en masse. Henry James, Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton and Somerset Maugham all called the Riviera their home at one point in their lives.
The Riviera is still associated with filthy-rich business moguls, film stars, yachts and aspiring artists after 80 years, after the development of huge tourist hubs in other parts of the world. Despite all this competition, the Jet Set of Europe and the United States always made a stop at the French Riviera, overcome by its natural beauty and heritage.
Yachting is still a popular pastime in the area, and the global superyacht fleet visits the region at least once in the yacht’s lifetime. Nearly every reputable yacht charter firm operates out of the French or Italian Riviera, including us! If you’re looking for a super yacht charter based in the South of France with access to ports around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, You Charter Direct provides a no-fuss charter service that cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and Caribbean so you can see some of the natural beauty of these regions for yourself.