Great Beaches on the French Riviera
Beaches on the French Riviera beaches stretch from Menton to St Tropez and all hug the Mediterranean Sea.
Some beaches are glitzy and made for jet-setters while others are quiet enough to just chill out for the day.
That’s my kind of beach 🙂 This article is quite long and gives you a good idea of what type of beaches you can find along the Mediterranean.
So let’s take a look at which great beaches on the french riviera is the perfect one for you…
BEACHES ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA: MENTON
30 km from Nice, Menton is the last city before the Italian border.
The winding streets in the old town are worth visiting as well as the shops and restaurants along the way.
Have an ice cream. Enjoy the view. Sit under a shady tree.
Parallel to the city is a very long stretch of beach aptly named Promenade du Soleil, very similar to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Among other beaches on the french riviera, this one is 2 km long.
Choose from a large mix of public and private beaches if you want to rent sun beds and be served a cold drink!
The pebbly beaches closer to the old port have shallow and calm waters so good for kids and those who don’t want to battle with waves.
But don’t expect to be alone!
Bus no.100 gets you here from Nice in about 1 hour.
Need to Find a Great Hotel on the French Riviera? It’s this way…
FRENCH RIVIERA BEACH IN CAP D’AIL. LA MALA
Just before Monaco in the very small town of Cap D’ail, this definitely makes the list of beaches on the french riviera. The beach of La Mala.
It’s a very small beach half of which is public, the other half is private with a couple of upscale restaurants on the water’s edge.
This used to be one of my favorite beaches.
It’s still postcard perfect with warm waters and an amazing view in spite of rows of sunbeds crowding the small area.
To access this beach, you must be fit. Follow the 15-minute walking path then descend the stone stairs that lead to La Mala…
Remember you have to go up again on the way back!
Check out the beautiful homes, flowers, and plants on the winding road leading to the steps.
Park in the small lot in Cap D’Ail’s town center or take the #100 bus from Nice for only 1.50e.
Like a few other secluded beaches on the french riviera, you could also come here by boat..if you have one 🙂
Bring a picnic or splurge in one of the onsite restaurants.
Have a swim, snorkel, relax, and just e.n.j.o.y.
VILLEFRANCHE SUR MER – PLAGE DE LA MARINIERE
Villefranche Sur Mer is a small colored village about 10 km from Nice.
The town itself is full of charm and worth visiting even if you don’t go to the beach.
Like a few others in the area, Villefranche has 2 long beaches on the french riviera. A mix of small gravel and a few sandy patches. It’s more comfortable than the rocky beaches of Nice and the water is calm.
In certain places, it’s completely see-through!
Bring water shoes as some areas in the water are lined with rocks.
Overall it is a great place for everyone including families with kids.
Don’t forget your parasol and come early, otherwise, you’ll have to walk further down the beach to get a spot.. and the further you go the narrower it gets.
If you walk all the way to the end and cross the parking lot, there is another semi-circular beach, smaller and cozy but also a very nice option.
A few small cafes serve good sandwiches and Nicoise salads with a fantastic view of the colored village!
However, like most beaches on the french riviera, it gets crowded if you arrive too late…
Note: Cruise ships stop here on certain days a few times a month so check before coming to Villefranche or you’ll have larger crowds than usual!
The train is a good option to get to a few beaches on the french riviera. To come to Villefranche from Nice, go to Gare Thiers train station in Nice, buy your ticket and ride for about 15 minutes . It drops you off practically at the beach, Once the train arrives in Villefranche, just go down the flight of stairs, and walk towards your left. The beach is only a few minutes away.
If you come by car, there are 3 parking lots in Villefranche.
1. Close to the Citadelle but it’s a 20-minute walk to the beach.
2. At the entrance of the village good for going around town and local restaurants.
3. The 3rd lot is at the far end right on the beach. Once you reach the barrier by car, you must take a ticket and pay at the automatic payment machines when ready to leave.
Just note that the beach lot is not the easiest to maneuver because of the narrow 2-way lane. Be patient.
FRENCH RIVIERA BEACH IN ANTIBES
Antibes is a charming French Riviera town that also encompasses Juan Les Pins, but that’s another story.
There are two main beaches in Antibes: Plage de la Gravette and La Salis.
But I won’t talk about the second one as it’s my least favorite and not on my list of best beaches on the french riviera.
* Plage de la Gravette
This is one of my favorite sandy beaches on the french riviera.
Shaped in a semi-circle it has a cozy feel and shallow waters for kids to play safely. For swimmers, just go a bit further out.
The great view of the bay is what keeps me coming back!
This beach borders the Old Town close to the Picasso museum. The small food truck is perfect for snacks or a sandwich.
If you’re staying in the old town of Antibes then it’s an easy walk.
The beach is in front of the old fishing port. Otherwise, you can park in the large underground lot 5 minutes away.
But like most beaches on the French Riviera, summertime is let’s get there early time! Don’t come too late or you may not find your ideal spot!
NICE BEACHES ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA
Coco Beach – The small beach of Coco Beach hides within a rocky landscape.
You have to go down a small flight of stairs to enjoy an intimate moment in the sun. In the summer it does get crowded considering it is quite small.
Swim off the rocks or bring goggles and explore sea life in clear waters!
Off-season it’s one of my favorite beaches on the french riviera. A great place to just chill out, have a picnic, and enjoy the afternoon with a good book while the waves crash against the rocks.
La Reserve is only a few minutes away. You must be comfortable with rocks as there are plenty! Just lay your towel on any inspiring spot!
Both beaches are located on the other side of the port, on Boulevard Franck Pilate, to the east.
Walk to the small Corsica Boat Landing and continue a couple of hundred meters. You’ll see the stairs going down leading to Coco Beach and you can admire the lighthouse far off in the distance.
Between both beaches, Le Plongeoir restaurant will catch your attention. This restaurant seems suspended over the water. The food is ok if you want to splurge!
But the real deal is the amazing view 🙂
BEACHES ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA ALONG THE PROMENADE
The majority of the beaches along the Promenade des Anglais are “galets” beaches and not sandy. Galets are small gray rocks of all shapes and designs
This can be quite uncomfortable, so I suggest if you do go to these beaches buy a cheap foam mattress available anywhere beach stuff is sold as well as water shoes.
Remember that on any of the numerous beaches on the french riviera, a parasol is always a good idea as it can get really hot.
But if you’re there for only a couple of hours, bring a large brim hat instead, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle securing the parasol.
There are many restaurants along private beaches that rent out sunbeds.
Private beaches on the french riviera come at a high price for a half day or full day but you’re worth the splurge 🙂 And you can also have a delicious drink or a great lunch.
Be prepared to splurge.
Beware that whether you choose private or public, there may be somewhat of a steep slope before getting in the water!
You can choose between 15 private beaches or as many public beaches for about 8 kilometers from the east (old town) to the west (airport).
Here are 3 beaches that I like :
- Castel Beach: Located in front of the Old town, the private part of this french riviera b3ach has its own restaurant where you can enjoy the view. Its name comes from it being at the foot of Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau).
Love it or hate it, be aware that it can get very busy during the summer months.
- Opera Plage: One of the oldest beaches in Nice, it faces the back side of the Opera House. Laid back but also crowded during summer. The private part of this beach is one of the least expensive on the Promenade.
- Plage Beau Rivage Located near the Old Town, this private beach is a bit upscale but very welcoming and family-friendly. Enjoy sunbeds, the restaurant, and if you’re staying at their hotel you get extra perks 🙂
FRENCH RIVIERA BEACHES IN SAINT TROPEZ
The most beautiful beaches on the French Riviera of course include those in Saint Tropez.
There are a series of private and public beaches in Saint Tropez.
Some are more secluded than others where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon in the Mediterranean sun.
- Plage des Graniers: Located behind the Citadelle, this small sandy (but not fine white) beach has clear waters.
Not the most beautiful beach on the french riviera, but close to town if you don’t have a car.
Sunbeds for rent and a beach club restaurant.You can also just bring a towel and a picnic.
There is a path leading down to the beach and you can start here if you want to follow the Sentiers du Littoral.
Ramatuelle Beaches close to St. Tropez
A charming small town about 10 km from the center of St. Tropez that has some of the most beautiful beaches on the french riviera.
Try to go outside the high season as they do get crowded and get a completely different feel!
- PLAGE DE L’ESCALET
Nature at its best, relaxing sandy beach surrounded by rocks where you can sit or lay your towel.
Turquoise waters, fish in the sea, and nothing else around.
Not easy to get to, but beautiful.
Snorkel or just relax and be sure to buy fresh drinks from a guy who comes every once in a while with his drink cart 🙂
By car from Ramatuelle, follow signs to L’escalet towards St. Tropez.
There is a small parking lot but arrive early otherwise…
Then walk about 100m on a rocky path for access to the beach. One side is a nudist beach..but it’s quite separate.
After the beach, if you’re feeling full of energy, take a long walk on the Sentiers des Douaniers to explore the area and other beaches along the way.
- PAMPELONNE BEACH :
A very very long stretch of sandy beach and clear waters with chic yachts on the horizon.
The perfect image of a french riviera beach.
Parts are public other parts are private. But it’s long enough so that anyone can find their perfect spot.
Try not to come in July and August as there are just too many people on top of each other!
It’s not the quietest beach and is extremely touristy, glitzy with lots of high priced restaurants and beach clubs.
But this beach belongs to the legend of Brigitte Bardot so worth a visit – if you like Brigitte Bardot 🙂
Located between St Tropez and Ramatuelle. You’ll need a car to get there. There is parking on site.
Port Grimaud Just 9 km from Saint Tropez, Port Grimaud is a charming seaside port with its colorful houses along the canal and pedestrian village.
Take a ride around on a boat to explore the area and the other beaches on the french riviera.
The small area is pedestrian-only, so you’ll need to park the car on the outskirts as it is pedestrian-only.
Or if you’re feeling full of energy just ride a bike.
This sandy beach lined with palm trees is large enough for everyone and its also where locals go.
The waters are crystal clear waters and you can admire the view of St. Tropez harbor.
Rent a sunbed or just find a quiet spot. There are restaurants on-site, showers, and all creature comforts.
Port Grimaud is so small, you won’t have any trouble finding the beach!
But again, at the risk of repeating myself, during the months of July and August it gets crowded, get there early 🙂
Each great beach on the french riviera has something special, it’s up to how you feel and what you’d like to do!
Go early to the beaches on the French Riviera. Enjoy Together.
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