Andrew and Clare Payne are sailing the Mediterranean in their yacht Eye Candy, and here tell tales of their sailing visit to the French Riviera: We arrived at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in France on a Friday afternoon. In the past three weeks we have explored Le Grazie, La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Santa Margherita, Portofino, San Remo and now Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. We had a good 27 mile sail from San Remo, tacking along the coast close to shore giving us a good view of Monaco as we passed.
Saint Jean - Cap Ferrat
What a spectacular part of the world is Saint Jean - Cap Ferrat . Lovely homes (many of them very large and expensive) with beautiful gardens and fabulous views of the bays dotted with sparkling power boats. The picturesque village of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is like a well kept secret. It is so quiet and peaceful; it is hard to imagine that a throbbing Monaco is only five miles away.
From where we anchored in the bay at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat we could see the house that Charlie Chaplin and later David Niven owned. It is one of the oldest mansions in the area; in the attached photo it is the pink place on the water's edge. Above it, you can also see the large Rothchild mansion on top of the hill. This is now public estate and open to visitors and has magnificent gardens and spectacular views on both sides of the headland of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and Villefranche.
Andrew and I visited friends who live here in 2005 when we came this way during our first year of in the Med. It was only fitting that we should meet up again on this our last year in the Med. They invited us for Saturday morning coffee, cake and a good long chat. In the evening we were ferried by car to the hilltop overlooking Villefranche. We then strolled down to the town where we had dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. We celebrated the friend's birthday with champagne and nibbles on Eye Candy in the evening.
Typical waterside cruising lunch
We decided to catch the train to Monaco. I was totally agog. The obvious wealth is probably the thing that hits you first. We saw beautiful buildings, gorgeous gardens, miles of paving, posh hotels, the Grand Prix route, Grimaldi Palace and Monte Carlo casino.
Monte Carlo Casino
I wanted to tour Grimaldi Palace but it was closed to the public in preparation for Prince's Albert's wedding in July. I then understood why there were so many South African flags in the area. I also would have enjoyed a look in the Casino but that is closed to the public during the day. At night you can enter the front door for ten euros, but men have to wear a tie and woman must be suitably dresses – so that ruled us out anyway - what's a tie?
Antibes Old Town
Wednesday morning we headed to Antibes, which we believe is the centre of boating here. It probably is – the local ship chandler wanted twenty six euro fifty ($36.80) for 3 kilograms of camping gas (that is about seven times the price at home). Fortunately we have three bottles, so we will hold on until we get to Spain where hopefully sanity will prevail. We went to the port and saw many expensive power boats being polished and fussed over by numerous young people with their squeegee and chamois in hand. They were detailing every area and I couldn't help but wonder if they expected this when signing up.
We are now a few miles off Cannes. The coastline from Antibes to Cannes is packed with high rise accommodation and as we came along the coast passenger jets were flying out off Nice airport and roaring over the top of the boat. There are noticeably more boats on the water and the area is quite busy.
Saint Honorat Monastry
A few miles off the coast are the two small islands of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat. We anchored between the two islands in aqua clear water of 24 degrees. Yesterday we went to the smaller island of Saint-Honorat which has a lovely walking track circumnavigating the island. The track takes about an hour to walk and there are many picnic areas set up under shady trees.
The island is open to the public but it is also home to a Monastery. The monks pray and work the land making wine and honey for sale. Mass is celebrated three times a day and the monks, in long cream robes, come down the aisle welcoming the public by clasping both your hands.
There are many sign boards around the island asking that you respect the silence and it is wonderful to hear birds, cicadas, church bells and the sound of wind in the trees. It is almost unbelievable to find such peace only a few miles off the busy coast...