Whenever I take the helicopter from Nice to Monaco, I marvel at the beauty of the Côte d'Azur. It's a convenient 7 minute ride from the airport to the heliport in Fontevieille.
Below are 10 great private helicopter escapades that can be organized from Monaco, Nice, Cannes or St Tropez. Flight times indicated are from the Cannes heliport.
I. One hour Overflight of the Côte d’Azur or Haute Provence
For a private one-hour overflight in and out of Cannes, I'd suggest three itineraries:
The scenery in this direction is very different – more limestone cliffs and mountainous terrain
The gorges were carved out during the last ice age and offer splendid scenery from above
II. Château St Martin near Vence
Fly inland and over the scenic towns of St Paul and Vence to the magnificent Château Saint Martin – an award-winning Relais & Chateaux property.
If great food and wine is high on your list of priorities, then you will definitely not be disappointed with the Château Saint Martin. Run by head chef Yannick Franque, protégé of the celebrated chef Alain Ducasse , the Château Saint Martin’s gastronomic restaurant has been awarded 2 Michelin Stars. The hotel’s head sommelier Jean-Christophe Rault always picks out the perfect wines for each menu and offers wine tasting in the hotel’s attractive cellars.
Flying time: 20 minutes roundtrip with 2 hours on the ground.
III. Vista Palace overlooking Monaco
Fly up the Riviera coast – over Nice, Villefranche, St Jean de Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze and Monaco to the Vista Palace in Roquebrune/Cap Martin. Perched high above Monaco with fabulous views, its restaurant affords the best view possible over the Principality and into the neighboring Italian Riviera.
Set on a mountain side 1000 feet above the Mediterranean, The Vista Palace offers one of the most spectular views overlooking the Italian Riviera to the East and Monaco to the West. Gourmet restaurants Le Vistaero and (in summer) La Corniche offer the region's culinary highlights. In the bar Lounge Icare, you can enjoy cocktails and one of the world's most magnificent views.
Flying time: 30 minutes roundtrip with 2 hours on the ground.
IV. Truffles galore Chez Bruno in Lorgues
Enjoy lunch at Chez Bruno near Lorgues in a magical Provencal "Bastide" atmosphere.
Famous for his truffle creations, celebrated chef Clement Bruno uses more than 1000 kg of these fungi annually – more than any other restaurant in the world! You'll probably consume more truffles in one lunch than you will for the rest of your life, unless you become hooked, as we have!
Flying time: 40 minutes roundtrip with 2 hours on the ground.
IV. The Porquerolles Islands
Situated in the middle of the 3 Iles d'Or (Islands of Gold), in front of the French Mediterranean coast, the Porquerolles Islands are remarkable for the splendor of their flora and the variety of their sites. Their climate, renowned to be the best in Metropolitan France, boasts 275 sunny days per year.
Le Mas du Langoustier (home of the rock-lobsterman), in the western part of the Porquerolles Island, is an exceptional place with a sanctuary of gastronomy hidden between pines and eucalyptus trees. The finest and most delicates dishes will be enjoyed with wonderful "Domaine de l'île” rosé wine from the Island. Make sure you take a walk along two of the island’s famous beaches, la plage blanche (the white beach) and la plage noire (the black beach).
Flying time: 70 minutes roundtrip with 3 hours on the ground.
V. Les Baux de Provence
Fly to Haute Provence to enjoy lunch or an early dinner at the acclaimed, 2-Michelin star rated restaurant of the Oustau de Baumaniére. In the heart of Les Alpilles mountains, just minutes from Arles, Avignon and Saint Rémy de Provence, Geneviève and Jean-André Charial have turned this charming establishment into a unique destination, where gastronomy and well-being are the watchwords for the art of Provencal art of living.
The extraordinary natural beauty of Les Baux de Provence surrounds the place.
The Camargue region has stunning natural beauty that is unique in all of Europe – swampy everglades, rice paddies, sandy beaches and wild horses.
Just a few minutes from the Mediterranean Sea with its wide sandy beaches, the Mas de la Fouque is located in the small charming town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer, the capital of the region. For more than 30 years, the Mas has been a prized location for artists who love and appreciate this region. Situated in a 5 hectare park, the establishment offers an interesting mixture of local and luxurious architecture on the edge of an incredibly nature reserve.
Right next to the hotel, there is a helicopter pad. The restaurant can accommodate you for either lunch or an early dinner. Meals are creative and French-Provencal. Organic vegetables and fresh produce from local markets are used.
Flying time: 3 hours roundtrip with 3 hours on the ground
VIII. Upper Corsican Escapade – Calvi
Your destination will be Calvi, in the northern part of Corsica, where you can enjoy lunch or an early dinner at La Table de Bastien at La Villa.
A truly luxurious and visually stunning establishment set in seven acres of gardens bordering the maquis. Jean-Pierre Pinelli, the owner and a man of impeccable taste, has created a sophisticated and elegant hotel with a renowned restaurant. Recently renovated throughout and built in the style of an extensive Roman villa perched high above Calvi. Its spacious rooms and terraces offer some of the most spectacular views of the bay and citadel.
The restaurant is known for its Corsican specialties – including great fresh seafood and local wines and cheeses.
Flying time 2 hours 20 minutes round trip with 3 hours on the ground.
IX. Central Corsican Escapade – Ajaccio
Ideally located on the peaceful south shore of the Gulf of Ajaccio in one of the most beautiful spots of the Island of Beauty, as Corsica is known, the hotel is like a jewel box. Since 1949 Le Maquis has offered refinement and wellbeing, which appeal to a faithful French and international clientele. This dream home also happens to be the only luxury hotel on the island to enjoy its own private beach hidden in a heavenly secluded and naturally protected cove, two swimming pools including a heated indoor pool and a restaurant famed for its cuisine and personalized service. Its terrace overlooks the panoramic Sanguinary Islands.
Flying time: 3 hours roundtrip with 3 hours on the ground.
X. Lower Corsican Escapade – Bonifacio
Fly to Bonifacio in Corsica where you can enjoy either lunch or an early dinner at the U Capu Biancu.
The inventive cuisine of Gadio El Hadji, the restaurant’s Senegalese chef, who has been head chef for the past 11 years, artfully combines regional produce with exotic and local spices.
Flying time: 3 hours 40 minutes roundtrip with 3 hours on the ground.
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