It’s Showtime!

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Exploring Europe’s Must-See Boat Shows for The Yacht Aficionado

As September quickly approaches you can sense a palpable air of excitement in the yachting industry as the major European boat shows in Cannes and Monaco draw near. These two shows are two of the coolest and most influential shows in the entire world, and set the tone for the industry’s busy season, which extends through the American shows, culminating in Palm Beach in March. But while Cannes and Monaco are often mentioned in the same breath, they are very different beasts. Here’s some info on each show, and how to do them right.

If you talk to people who go to a lot of these events, you start to hear a common refrain, i.e. “Cannes is my favorite boat show in the world.” The Cannes Yachting Festival stands out not just as Europe’s premiere showcase for vessels under about 130-feet or so, but also for its ease of use. Much like its closest American counterpart in Palm Beach, Cannes is not too big and not too small. Sea trials for many of the boat’s in attendance can be undertaken during the show on the picturesque Baie de Cannes. Industry heavyweights like Ferretti, Azimut, Sunseeker, and Sanlorenzo set up massive stands to show off their wares, while lesser known builders can be found dotted about the harbor. Far out on the mega-yacht dock, the show’s larger builds bob placidly in the gentle swells.

The venue itself is A+, but the other thing people love about Cannes is what it holds off site. In particular—it’s France—so the food is of very high quality, the bars are plentiful and well curated, and it’s all within walking distance. If you meet an IYG professional in Cannes, you can walk the docks all morning checking out the latest and greatest from every major European boatbuilder, and then walk five minutes away and get a table in the shade outside of a bustling café, with a crisp bottle of Chablis on ice, and plates of beef tartare and sole meuniere en route from the kitchen. And what could be better than that?

If Cannes is low-key and elegant, the Monaco Yacht Show is the perfect juxtaposition, hitting showgoers over the head with an onslaught of unrivaled glitz and glam. Tenders on display here run up to about 50 feet, but this show’s real purpose is to show off mega yachts 150 feet and up. The Italian builders are of course out in full force at this show, with Benetti, Sanlorenzo, Custom Line, Baglietto, Rossinavi, Palumbo and more lining the quays. And of course the Lurssens and Feadships of the world are in attendance as well. There is simply no contest when it comes to a larger concentration of mega yachts for sale on Earth. Monaco is known to be a less navigable show than Cannes, but various tenders running to and fro across Port Hercules help to cut down on the walking distances. Monaco has a teacup harbor, meaning to leave the show you’ll need to do some uphill walking if you don’t have a car, but the entertainment rewards are top-notch, with Michelin-starred gems like La Montgolfiére-Henri Geraci and Le Blue Bay nearby, world-class clubs like Twiga, and of course the casinos in Monte Carlo, should you be feeling particularly James Bond.

The Monaco Yacht Show can be a lot to take in if you have never been, so if you plan on going next year, reach out to IYG. They will be walking the docks and would love to be your guide to one of the most incredible scenes in all of boating.