Capt. Carl Sputh has been gliding in and out of the turquoise shimmering waters of the South of France for close to a decade as the captain of the motoryacht Starfire (below). With the region a perennial favorite among megayacht owners and charter guests alike, and with high-profile events like the upcoming Cannes Yachting Festival putting another spotlight on it, the South of France is an ideal destination. Here, Sputh shares his inside knowledge on where to dine, dance, and of course shop.
For superyacht charters, the South of France is a veritable playground of pearls and fancies. Yet, beneath the glittering surface, you can find a pure beating heart of fine food, art, and ancient splendor. Sip dusty bottles of Bordeaux in the shade of the polished sundeck, and dine on five star dishes whipped up from our private chef. Kayak around the coastline, splash in azure waters, and sit salty, sunburned, and satiated beneath a fistful of stars. Want to blend the sultry beach-club scene and the chic restaurants with hidden, golden coves and sculptures set amongst the pines? Step aboard Starfire and discover the joie de vive of the picturesque ports of call in the South of France.
Food and Finery in Cannes
With Cannes’ flush of subtropical flowers and palm-lined boulevards, picture-perfect marinas, and stony watchtower (top of page), dropping anchor here always feels like slipping into the past. If there was a dash of heaven on earth, it surely would be Cannes, the place where red carpets roll out to welcome the stars and hidden patisseries line the back streets. When we dock close to the Parc de la Roseraie and the stunning Port Pierre Canto, guests can spend their time dining in style and celebrity sightseeing. Lunch in Cannes is all about Da Laura, a place where you can pull up a chair and taste a dazzling display of Italian and French finesse. Think homey, handmade ravioli and amazingly gooey pastries that flake with love. Those seeking something special come the evening can choose VIP style at La Guerite. Here the wild array of flavors are endless: Lebanese hummus, Andalusian gazpacho, and a bounty from garden and sea fresh from the local markets, all prepared by a famous young Greek chef.
Art and Wine in Antibes
Antibes is that little gem that sits pretty with its stone walls and sea views, a little more demure than her bigger sisters of Nice and Cannes, and soaked in good old-fashioned seaside charm. Our guests always get pleasure from dropping anchor at Cap d’Antibes and diving straight into the blue bliss of the waters. Take our Hinckley tender to shore and wander the Chemin des Douaniers to see the carnations in bloom, and slip your feet in the freshwater creeks. Back in town, the Musee Picasso showcases the finest creativity that the artist had to offer. When you see Picasso’s work in the historical splendor of the 13th-century Château Grimaldi, his paintings seem to take on a new meaning, striking the soul. As the sun starts to touch low on the horizon, I suggest enjoying a delectable, Michelin-starred dinner at Restaurant de Bacon. It’s a family-owned place of historical prestige, where the bouillabaisse is lovingly prepared and served with a glorious Pouilly Fuissé from the cellar.
Fire Eaters and Fun in St. Tropez
My imagination always runs riot when I first glimpse the pastel-colored buildings of St Tropez cast in a golden light next to the shimmering blue sea. I think of Sartre and Picasso sitting and nursing the green, fairy-like glow of their Absinthe, of Brigitte Bardot laughing as she frolicked in the warm waters. For our guests who want to break away from the “scene” and find something special, I take them to Plage des Salins. You can find soft sands flanked by velvet pines, rocky bends, and strips of beach with barely another soul in sight. This is a fabulous place to snorkel or to take the Jet Ski out and discover the secret slips of the coast. For dinner you cannot beat the fresh twist of Thai food prepared with a little French magic at Le Banh Hoi. If you want the night to continue unraveling, I suggest sipping cocktails while witnessing the hedonism of the cabaret show, the contortionists, and the fire eaters at the famous L’Opera club.
Southern Specialties and Celebrities in Nice
For me, Nice seems to perfectly capture that old-world elegance and romance that makes the South of France such a fairytale destination. There is a plethora of finery for guests to feast on, whether it’s taking the tender out to find whales in the deep-blue sea, swinging by Île Saint-Honorat to taste the local limoncello brewed by the monks, or wandering around the Old Town.
Art lovers always fall head over heels with Nice. For those with a passion for painting, I suggest the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain and the Musée Matisse. Those who prefer to break away from the norm, I can show you the Fondation Maeght. Set amidst the pines is a museum holding the essential works of Miro, Chagall, Leger, and Braque. When you have had your fill of fabulous art and inspiration, I recommend heading to La Petite Maison for a Provençal feast with some of the world’s most striking celebs. Southern specialties tantalize like never before, with tapenade, farcis niçois (stuffed vegetables), and salade d’artichauts violets (artichoke salad).
Whatever side of the South of France you want to explore, whether it be the fast-rolling casinos and sultry heat of Nikki Beach Club, or the soft-lit villages and hiking trails that peel off into the hills, here at Starfire we can take you to the edge of your imagination.