The Best Beaches

    The one problem with having so many coastal hotspots: Choosing which one to check out first! Ideally, you’d conquer the whole lot in one wonderful, leisurely road trip, traversing the French Riviera coast, looping through the French countryside’s vineyards, and soaking it all in over the course of a summer.

    But since wealthy benefactors and multiple months of vacation days are hard to come by these days, we’ve created this list so you can zone-in on the beach of your choice and check these spots off your bucket list one by one. 

    But first, make sure to read our guide to important things to know about French Riviera beaches.

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    Here are the French Riviera’s best beaches, in alphabetical order:

    Antibes & Juan-les-Pins’ Beaches

    Antibes is surrounded by beautiful beaches, and unlike a lot of the pebbly French Riviera, there’s plenty of golden sand with its clear turquoise waters. Both Antibes and Juan-les-Pins see a flood of Parisian tourists come summertime, so skip the beach blanket and fork over a few euros at one of the seaside restaurants or hotels to enjoy the classic Côte d’Azur vibe —and champagne service— on a sunbed sans crowding. Even the swimming-averse will love strolling and shopping the promenade, and if you’re up for an adventure, the town has a variety of scuba, snorkel, and parasailing outfitters to get your adrenaline pumping.

    Antibes: Gravette Beach

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    Plage de la Gravette in Antibes

    Gravette Beach  is a horseshoe-shaped beach below Antibes next to medieval ramparts that has a lot going for it. It’s wide, it’s sandy, it’s completely public, and it’s right in the middle of the old town, making it perfect for a quick swim while exploring Antibes, or to spread out with a picnic for the day.

    It’s the closest beach to town, accessed though an archway from Port Vauban . It offers a great retreat for tourists wanting to take a dip after a stroll in the area. The sheltered cove is perfect for swimming, or join the locals for aperitifs on the beach at sunset. The beach is complete with facilities like shower areas and snack kiosks, and parking is not a problem in the nearby Old Port.

    Antibes: Private Beaches

    Further south again is Garoupe Beach , home to luxury private beach clubs in summer. This is where you can hire a lounger with drinks service – just don’t go boasting about it on social media, as the beach has enforced a selfie ban (yes, really!) Lounge chairs are also available for rent in the beachside restaurants, and there are public showers in the area as well.

    Antibes: Water Sports

    Just south of town are a couple more sandy stretches – Ponteil Beach , next to the Antibes Yacht Club (where you can hire boats or kayaks), and Salis Beach . Both have shallow water and lifeguards on duty in the summer. These narrow beaches are a perfect home base for travelers hoping for sun, sand, and a host of activities to choose from.

    Check out our guide to the best places for water sports on the French Riviera.

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    Beaulieu-sur-Mer‘s Beaches

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    Despite being a small town, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is where in-the-know locals go to escape the crowds in Nice. The beaches here look sandy but are actually made of very tiny pebbles.

    Beaulieu-sur-Mer: Fourmis Beach

    Fourmis Beach can be found in the west of the port and has fine gravel sand. Children can play safely in the shallow part of the water and there are diving platforms for adults. It is near a beautiful boulevard lined with pine and palm trees, though the beach offers no shade. Showers and toilets are available but parking can be very difficult and we recommend to look in the town.

    Beaulieu-sur-Mer: Petite Afrique Beach

    The pebbles on this beach are fine it is almost like sand. Petite Afrique Beach is a favorite among Beaulieu-sur-Mer residents. This sheltered cove has incredible scenery around and with lots of facilities. Showers and toilets are available including lifeguard services and paid parking with enough space. There is an area for kids to play in the shade of pine trees, as well as a beach volleyball court, a small snack bar, and a beach club. Watersports like skis, paddleboards, and banana boats are available from a private company.

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    Bormes-les-Mimosas: Pellegrin Beach

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    Down a dusty road, surrounded by olive orchards and grapevines that roll on for as far as the eye can see, you’ll find one of the South of France’s local treasures: Pellegrin beach . Pellegrin beach brings together all of the elements that make this corner of the world so spectacular—fantastic scenery, unbeatable organic wineries, and gourmet French dining.

    Since its “hideaway” location and paid parking can be a deterrent, if you play your cards right, you might have this idyllic strip of sand all to yourself. Set up camp under a shady pine tree, sip take-away organic espressos, and take in the morning’s stunning sights as the gentle waves roll into the calm turquoise shore. The water is warm, and it would be easy to confuse this little strip of paradise with a tropical island.

    Check out our guide to Pellegrin beach and the nearby wineries and seaside walk.

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    Cannes‘ Beaches

    Cannes is a favorite for sunbathers because of its soft sand, proximity to shops and hotels, and huge range of options for restaurants, bars and private beaches. Drenched in generous sunshine even in the off-season, Cannes has no shortage of beaches, the difference being that Cannes’ beaches are made of fine sand (whereas Nice’s are pebbles).

    Cannes: Croisette’s Private Beaches

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    Cannes is the best place on the French Riviera for private beaches (aside from Ramatuelle in the summer, if you want a scene). Most of the beach along the Promenade de la Croisette is divided up into private beaches with loungers and restaurants. Many are owned by the exclusive hotels in the area, like Miramar Plage , Carlton Beach Club , and La Plage du Martinez . Walk down the beach in this area and pick the spot that appeals to you the most. Our favorites are: La Plage du Festival and Odine Plage .

    Cannes: Midi’s Public Beaches

    The Best Beaches - cannes travel guide beaches
    Cannes beach is crowded in July & August
    The Best Beaches - Cannes Beach
    Cannes beach is much more pleasant in the off-season

    If the thought of paying for beach access doesn’t sit comfortably with you, there are public beaches on the western side of the Pointe Croisette . The largest of the section of public beaches in the area is along the 700-meter-long Boulevard du Midi . Named for the boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert, this cluster of beaches is on the other side of Cannes’ Old Port. It’s a busy commercial and residential area and these beaches are popular with locals.

    Full of young people and families, you won’t feel out of place and your children will be able to play beach games comfortably without worrying about bothering your beach neighbors. There is also a play area just for kids, making it a perfect place for families.

    In the summer, many beach clubs set up lounges here. You can find public showers, plenty of shops, cafés, and kiosks for refreshments. Don’t expect culinary experiments on the plate in this area; the crowd here prefers basic French/Italian/Seafood dishes.

    As you walk west past the beach-restaurants, you come to a long public stretch of sand with beach showers and little else but a beach volleyball court. There are snack stands every 100m or so where you can pick up sandwiches and drinks.

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    Cap d’Ail‘s Beaches

    Cap d’Ail is walkable from Monaco, and the beach restaurants are less expensive, the vibe is more chill, and it’s more family-friendly.

    Cap d’Ail: Mala Beach

    The Best Beaches - Plage Mala

    Mala Beach is a white sand and pebble beach that is accessible through two winding staircases among the fragrant trees. A large portion is for the public complete with enough showers and toilets. If you want to rent sun loungers and deckchairs, you can rent them from two nearby restaurants. There is no parking space, but the beach is very walkable from Cap d’Ail town, and you can get there from Monaco via a beautiful seaside walking trail. Due to the path leading to the beach, the beach has no wheelchair or disabled access. Also, use judgment when deciding to take kids.

    Cap d’Ail: Marquet Beach

    Marquet Beach is very accessible from Monaco (it borders Fontvieille and is where the Cap d’Ail seaside walking trail starts) and is great for families. Snacks and drinks are available at several excellent beach restaurants. The beach has a mixture of small pebbles, gravel, and sand with a shallow dropoff and calm water. The offshore boulders give for a great place for snorkeling. In-season, there is a lifeguard where you can rent some beach equipment like paddleboards, etc. There are showers in the area where the park with shades is. There is a parking lot on the west side of the beach.

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    Cap-Ferrat‘s Beaches

    Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (or simply ‘Cap Ferrat’, as locals call it) is a very special place, and home to some of the world’s most famous & expensive villas. It has several fantastic, small beaches, and a coastal walk connecting them.

    Cap Ferrat: Passable Beach

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    Passable Beach is on the western side of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula. It is a part-public, part-private beach (with loungers and drink service), with a charming restaurant / outdoor bar.

    This beach is perfect for seeing the lovely French Riviera sunset. It is a pebbled beach, but the stones are small enough not to hurt your feet. The sea here is good for snorkeling. The beach is somewhat secluded and quieter than other beaches. Outdoor showers and toilets are available.

    It’s about a 15 minute walk from the town of St Jean on Cap Ferrat, which is just on the other side of the cap. There are alley shortcuts you can take, to stay off the main roads.

    Cap Ferrat: Paloma Beach

    The Best Beaches - Paloma Beach Cap Ferrat

    Paloma Beach rests deep within nature with all the greenery surrounding it. It gives a very picturesque view of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and the cliffs of Eze. Like Passable Beach, it is also semi-public. Pines of the nearby cliffs give shelter from wind and make for the gentle waves in the bay. You can try a few watersports like paddle boarding and water skiing. There are showers and toilets accessible to all visitors. Parking space is along the road over the beach.

    Cap Ferrat: Cros Dei Pin Beach

    Cros Dei Pin Beach is the main beach of Cap Ferrat. It is sandy and stretches for 150 meters with a view facing Beaulieu-sur-Mer. It is very family-friendly with a water-slide for children. There is also a watersports facility, along with a beach volleyball court and snack bar. Parking is paid nearby the watersports center.

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    Cap Martin: Carnolès Beach

    Carnolès Beach is a lovable urban beach that is very accessible — only a few strides from the train station. It is near a beautiful promenade with a very good view of the nearby town of Menton and the distant hills of Italy. You may find the beach kid-friendly for its calm water. There are plenty of places to get snacks while parasols and chairs are available for rent in some of the nearby “managed” beaches. You can park in the nearby parking spaces about 10 meters away from the beach.

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    Monaco: Larvotto Beach

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    The Best Beaches - best beaches larvotto beach monaco

    One of the best spots in Monaco, Larvotto Beach , is a sandy stretch of man-made beach. It has a large promenade, with several high-end restaurants on the sand.

    It’s very suitable for swimming and sunbathing — but only in a designer swimsuit, of course! If you don’t want to look at the backdrop of high-rises, you can check out all the fancy yachts in the water.

    If the public beach is crowded, you can check the adjacent private beaches attached to The Meridien Beach Plaza and Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel . There is also a small public pebble beach on east side of Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay .

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    Menton: Sablettes Beach

    East of the port is where you’ll find the sandy Sablettes Beach , with its combination of sand, and pebbles. The beach is quiet and sheltered but has a lovely view of the town of Menton and its beautifully painted houses. The shallow waters are perfect for youngsters, and the beach is large with packed-down sand. Take a break and have a gelato, or pick up a snack at one of the coastal road snack booths or the restaurants to the east.

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    Nice‘s Beaches

    Nice has a long, deep stretch of beach that goes along most of the city. It’s a pebble beach, which has its advantages: no sand in your shoes, less cleanup, etc. and its disadvantages: it’s not soft to sit on.

    Nice: Public Beaches

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    The main area of Nice has beach all along the coast. There are plenty of restaurants on the beach where you can get a drink or fantastic meal, and if you get bored you can just cross the street into the main part of Nice. The public beach area is quite narrow, and all the beaches along the Promenade are pebbly. There is also a nearby watersports activities center. The public beaches have all the necessary facilities for guests, such as wash areas and showers. Keep an eye on your valuables as there are pickpocketers on the beach in Nice.

    Nice: Private Beaches

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    Neptune Beach in Nice

    There are 15 private beaches in Nice. They are comfortable and you will generally eat well, but they are not as high-end as Monaco or Cannes; the exception being the (frankly, overpriced) Negresco Beach Club . Watch out for the “per 100g” pricing on the Negresco menu, as it usually ends up being much more expensive than anticipated. We recommend you avoid the Negresco and head to the similarly luxe (and better located) Le Galet instead. If you’re looking for something a bit more local and fun, head to Castel Plage which is a local (and gay-friendly) hangout. With family? La Vela is promotes itself as ‘family chic’.

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    Saint-Tropez: Pampelonne Beach

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    The Best Beaches - st tropez beach
    you’ll be spoiled for choice on Pampelonne

    If you’re looking for a party — a beach for you to see and be seen — this is the place to go. The fine sand of Pampelonne Beach stretches for almost five kilometers along the coast and has a remarkable natural setting with a rural back-drop that gives for a very scenic view all around. No highrises to ruin the view, only the mesmerizing sight of the sand rising and the super-yachts in the bay.

    A portion of the beach is private where beach clubs have private pools, restaurants, and rent out sun lounges and parasols, but the remaining larger part is free for the public. Water sports are available at kiosks scattered in the beach line.

    There’s a lot to say about St. Tropez’s beach clubs, so here’s a complete guide to St. Tropez’s Beach Clubs. Note that they’re only open from April/May to September/October, and St-Tropez is a ghost town in the winter.

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    Villefranche-sur-Mer: Marinieres Beach

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    Marinieres Beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer is a thin but long beach stretching for about a kilometer. A stunning view surrounds the beach that curves along the coast. It is near the train stop and easily accessible, and along the road going to the beach, there are several snack bars. Showers and toilets are available. The gently sloping shallows are perfect for kids just getting the hang of the water, and more confident swimmers will love snorkeling the fish-filled rock hollows further offshore. Parking can be tough in the summer, so we recommend taking the train.

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