Paula Farquharson

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Yachting: Article

Luxury Living With A Yacht in Your Yard

Once upon a short time ago a French man named François Spoerry had a unique and watery vision for his yacht

Once upon a short time ago a French man named François Spoerry had a unique and watery vision for his yacht. His wish was to create a beautiful home where he could moor his boat in the backyard – the visionary Gallic was an avid sailor as well as being a creative architect. And lucky for an elite few, his wish came true.

The development he designed in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez in the south of France has attracted investors and yacht owners from all over the world who appreciate his

excellent taste in real estate and the perfect location on the Mediterranean Sea. An added attraction is the mild micro-climate and sheltered harbour that Port Grimaud

enjoys, which is thanks to protection from the Alps to the north. Just think Venice but in the south of France! The exclusive complex with its playful colours was designed to resemble the romantic Italian city with the luxury homes built on a number of islands connected by Venetian-style bridges.

A Vision Realised
Built on the spot where the Greeks built Athenopolis 2000 years ago, this luxurious living location was a swampland when Spoerry purchased the land and started building the marina village in 1966. However, he was inspired by the prime location, heavenly mountain views and accessibility to the Mediterranean Sea. The fact that it was a swamp did not deter him. This idyllic location is heaven for yacht owners who, like Spoerry, wish to own a property which allows direct access by water and a safe and secure place to moor your luxury craft. Each house has its own private mooring pier. The picturesque canals that interweave among the pretty pastel-coloured houses with terracotta tiled rooftops allow you to safely maneuver your yacht to home base. Port Grimaud is an excellent marina as it is sheltered and protected from the winds from the East and the biting Mistral from the West.

The dream setting could not look more different today in comparison to its marshy origins a mere 45 years ago. Port Grimaud is now a thriving and sought after port, attracting the rich, famous and cream of the crop yacht owners. The port promises to seduce you, but if considering purchasing a property, you may have to wait to enjoy her watery ways! According to the real estate agents, there is a waiting list for homes to come on the market.

Fancy Fishermen Homes
With only approximately 3,500 houses built the elite vie for a slice of the prestigious port properties. Three types of houses were developed, maison de pêcheur (fisherman’s house), which consist of 85m2 of living space and three bedrooms; bungalows (compact 60m2 with two bedrooms); and maison large (large house), so called because that’s what they are – over 100m2 with three or four bedrooms. There are three sections in the complex: section one is a pedestrian zone and the other two sections are secured by gates - security in the complex is high on the agenda of the management company so owners can relax knowing their yacht and property are well protected.

Village Life
When the heat hits a high, this little port’s cafes and terraces are a hive of summer fun. Before stopping by the local outdoor market, drop into the small church (a Catholic mass is followed by a Protestant service on Sunday mornings). Even those atheists among us will admire the impressive interior with stained glass windows by Vasarely. It is just one of the many culturally rich visits you will make while at Port Grimaud. The marketplace is where residents shop for locally grown food and wine from nearby vineyards and there is a scrumptious selection of restaurants to suit all palates. One fabulous seafood restaurant, a favourite of Andie McDowell when in town, is La Table du Mareyeur, run by a Scottish man and his wife (10 & 11 place des Artisans) Tel:+33 (0)4 94 56 06 77. They will even deliver dinner to your yacht if you don’t feel like stepping ashore.

If you do wander away from moor-home for a night out on the town but don’t want to drink and sail, rest assured a water-taxi will whisk you home!  

A Village with a View
Unlike its contemporary port the medieval village of Grimaud has its roots steeped in the Gallo-Roman period. Until the end of the 19th century the Gulf of Saint-Tropez was called the Golfe de Grimaud, such was the importance of the town for its strategic vantage point. The ruins of the 17th century château dominate the hill above the port and churches and chapels from the 11th, 15th and 18th centuries trace the religious history of the village. There is even a windmill (St Roch)! A stroll around the old town pops up surprises at every turn: pretty squares, tiny flowered facades and shaded little lanes as well as the ancient burgesses houses with cross-barred windows and domineering doorways. No doubt you will stumble upon the locals playing a traditional game of boules or pétanque. If you fancy dabbling in antique hunting, try the market at Place Neuve, held every second Sunday of the month (March through October) or at Jas des Robert, every Sunday morning. Or for some wine dégustation to prepare the palate for a liquid lunch, visit the caves of the cooperative of Grimaud winegrowers, located between the medieval village and the port at 36 avenue des oliviers. There are many other domains to choose from to find the perfect bouquet. June 16th this year marks the 40th anniversary of Port Grimaud so make a date in your diary for a day and night of musical fun.
Browsing the Region

The region around Grimaud is exquisite. Within a stone’s throw (7km) is the famous Saint-Tropez, of Brigette Bardot fame. Its quaint fishing village ambiance is still intact while super yachts hover in the port unloading their rich and famous passengers, who enjoy a stroll through the tiny art gallery-lined streets. There is a multitude of leisure activities in which to indulge. You can rent motor boats, play tennis or golf at the Country Club de Grimaud or the Beauvallon Club, go horse riding or simply head to the hills for a gentle amble.  

Port Grimaud Info
The property complex is a private copropriété, which means that the houses are owned by individuals but the complex is run and maintained by a management company. The water area is approximately 27 ha., the quays lined with gardens and fishermen houses total 12 km in length, the minimum water depth in the main channels is about 3.5 m and 2.15 m in the side channels. The international airport of Nice is a mere 72 kms away. Nearby villages worth a visit are the famous Saint-Tropez (7kms), its lesser known but some say more beautiful sister town of Ramatuelle (10 kms), Ste Maxime (7kms) and Gassin (9kms).

The Mediterranean Sea is unusual in that the tide is very weak (less than a quarter of a metre compared to tides in the north of France of up to 15 metres) and there are no waves as you find elsewhere in other waters. The reason being, there is not the immense space required to form them. Only when the cold Mistral wind blows will small waves appear. The surface water temperature varies with the amount of sunshine, from 16C in winter to a very pleasant 22C in summer, ideal for yachting vacations.

Contact point
Grimaud Tourist Office
1 Bld. des Aliziers - 83310 Grimaud. Tel: +33 (0)4 94 55 43 83 e-mail: [email protected]

Harbour facts:
Port Grimaud I
Harbour Master’s Office: +33(0)4 94 56 29 88
Email : [email protected]
Mooring places : 1100
Public mooring places : 287
Maximum length : 55 m

Port Grimaud II
Harbour Master’s Office: +33(0)4 94 56 73 65
email: [email protected]
Mooring places : 751
Public mooring places : 66
Maximum length : 18 m

Harbour Master’s Office: +33(0)4 94 56 02 45
email: [email protected]
Mooring places: 500
Public mooring places: 60
Maximum length : 20 m

More Stories By Paula Farquharson

Paula Farquharson is an editor of The Riviera Times newspaper. Originally
from Ireland, she worked in New York and is now based in Nice, France,
where she learned to sail.

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