The most luxurious way to sail the Med is aboard a privately hired Dream Sailing super yacht. At 55ft, DreamCatcher is a little shy of Roman Abramovich’s 536ft Eclipse – the world’s largest private yacht – but she still offers five-star hotel refinements and personal service. Owners Alan Oliver and Michelle Blore can charter a route around the French Riviera to meet your every whim, picking you up at a point of your choosing and docking in celebrity hangouts like St Tropez, or isolated spots like Porquerolles in the Golden Islands.
The sleek cabins are furnished with king-sized beds topped with Ralph Lauren linen, and are equipped with personal DVD and stereo systems and a complimentary minibar. As you slumber in comfort, your steward will lay out wakeboards and waterskis on the sizeable sun deck, while a gourmet chef gets to work on the day’s menu. Sea bass and langoustines are served up on Wedgwood china with Conran crystal, while summer berries doused in rosé materialise as you enjoy an afternoon sprawl in a low-swinging hammock.
Docking in St Tropez, you’ll see dozens of onlookers lined up quayside hoping for a glimpse of Orlando Bloom or Mariah Carey. Sporting your obligatory oversized sunglasses, saunter off into the cobbled streets to hit the designer boutiques. Dinner at Arnaud Donckele’s two-Michelin-starred Vague d’Or, at the Résidence de La Pinède hotel, is a must; exquisitely presented dishes of smoked duck breast tartare, and foie gras salad, sit well with the opulence of your trip. Book a table on the balcony and savour a decadent tangerine praline while looking out across the sea.
After the glamour and excess of St Tropez, a sail south to Port Cros National Park provides the perfect contrast; the snorkelling bays, quiet beaches and simple bistros on this remote island are ideal spots to avoid prying eyes and enjoy your newfound hideand-chic lifestyle. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to wade your way though the DreamCatcher’s weighty wine list, but should you want a taste of something fresh from the vine, Château de Berne, in Lorgues, makes a handy pit stop. Vintner Brigitte Guiet lines up samples of the many vin de pays varieties grown in the vineyard, while a classic bread and cheese buffet is prepared in the caves below. Your sea legs will take a serious hit after a few glasses of the grande cuvée, their signature red – best stagger back on board, sink into a pillowy armchair and dazedly watch the sun set over France.
A quick word with the captain and you could change course – perhaps the biggest perk of private sailing – for Corsica. Moor up in Algajola, a fishing village where Napoleon spent a lot of his time. Set back from the port is a mass of chestnut, olive, fig and mulberry trees, the fruits of which can be found at the Place César-Campinchi daily market and stowed back on board.
Dream Sailing (00 33 664 03 70 20, http://dreamsailing.com) can charter a French Riviera trip from a destination of your choosing. A seven-night cruise starts from £1,556 per person, based on six passengers, including airport transfers.