The French Riviera is where holidaymakers, celebrities, couples and families go to see and be seen. Much like its Italian counterpart, French Riviera beaches are beautiful, with sparkling blue waters, easily distinguished by rows of pretty striped beach umbrellas and brightly coloured deck chairs.
Combining classic French elegance, delectable cuisine and warm Mediterranean weather, the sunny south of France is the perfect place for a holiday whether you’re searching for relaxation, great food and wine, beautiful scenery or intriguing history.
Although you will find many lounging on the famous beaches of Cannes and St. Tropez, the French Riviera also has hidden coves, towering cliffs and gorgeous little islands with sandy beaches just waiting to be explored.
- French Riviera Beaches
- Top 3 Tours
- 20 Best Beaches In The French Riviera
- 1- Plage Petit Afrique
- 2- Les Marinières
- 3- Paloma Beach
- 4- Plage de la Garoupe
- 5- Plage de la Mala
- 6- Plage de la Bocca
- 7- Plage de Pampelonne
- 8- Calvi Beach
- 9- Notre-Dame Beach
- 10- Esclamandes Beach
- 11- Plage de l’Escalet
- 12- Plage Rayol Canadel
- 13- Palmes Beach
- 14- Plage de la Gravette
- 15- Plage de Passable
- 16- Plage des Sablettes
- 17- Blue Beach
- 18- Cap Taillat
- 19- Plage du Camp Long
- 20- En Vau
French Riviera Beaches
Top 3 Tours
- From Nice: French Riviera in One Day – Explore Côte d’Azur on a guided driving tour of the French Riviera, including Monaco, Monte Carlo, and Antibes.
- Nice to Saint-Tropez and Port Grimaud Tour – Travel by boat from Saint-Tropez, see fishermen’s houses on the canals of Port Grimaud and enjoy views of the Massif de l’Esterel.
- French Riviera Tour: Discover the French Riviera on a driving tour to Cannes, Antibes and Saint-Paul de Vence.
20 Best Beaches In The French Riviera
1- Plage Petit Afrique
The name of this beach translates to ‘Little Africa Beach’, and even if you haven’t been to any of Africa’s coasts, rest assured they are stunning.
This small beach lies on the eastern edge of the Beaulieu-sur-Mer resort.
The water here is exactly what you’d expect in the South of France: brilliant blue and so clear you can see the fish.
The beach has soft golden sand, beach umbrellas, plenty of space, and calm waters, making it a perfect family spot.
Surrounding the beach are huge reddish limestone cliffs, which protect it from high winds, meaning it is usually very hot.
Amenities aren’t lacking here either, with showers, lifeguards and a train station close by.
There are also quite a few places to eat, drink or stock up on snacks for a picnic on the sand.
2- Les Marinières
Located in Villefranche-sur-Mer, just a short hop from Nice, the stunning Les Marinières beach is frequently cited as one of the best on the French Riviera.
The beach is around a kilometre in length, so you won’t have trouble finding a spot to plant your towel on the soft, powdery sand.
It’s popular with locals and tourists, especially since the train stops just behind the beach, making it super easy to reach.
Nonetheless, it makes an ideal day trip out if you’re staying in Nice, with warm, clear waters and plenty of activities such as snorkelling.
There are also an array of beachside restaurants and cafes where you can sample some French cooking, with moules marinières unsurprisingly being a popular dish. You may also like this tour.
3- Paloma Beach
The stunning Paloma Beach on the Sant-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is named after Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the famous artist.
It is one of the most iconic beaches on the French Riviera and even though its pebbles slash sand combo may not be perfect for planting your towel, choose from one of the many daybeds or umbrellas to people-watch in comfort.
The beach is well-known but remains most popular among the high-net-worth residents, who have their own private section of the beach reserved for members of the nearby beach club.
However, you can normally find somewhere to settle down for a few hours in the public section and even bring a picnic.
Activities on offer are diverse – everything from jet-skiing and sailing to snorkelling and tubing, plus plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.
4- Plage de la Garoupe
Plage de la Garoupe sits on the southern peninsula of the famous coastal city of Antibes.
You can walk here from the city in around 45 minutes.
The beach here is a huge sweeping cove, with plenty of space for everyone, although you will find it very busy on weekends when locals flock here from nearby towns.
Unfortunately, the beach remains mostly private in the summer; however, between October and April, it is open to the public, and warm temperatures still linger during these months.
Since it is a cove, the crystal waters here are calm and great for swimming.
You can rent a parasol or deck chair for the day and set up camp, or if you get hungry, head to one of the many beachfront restaurants.
5- Plage de la Mala
Although Plage de la Mala, located on the Cap d’Ail, is considered one of the best beaches not just on the Riviera but in the whole of France, you might be surprised to learn that it is usually relatively quiet.
This is because it lies between the two celebrity hotspots of Sant-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Monaco.
Catch a train or bus to the area, and from there, it is a 15-minute walk down a trail to the beach, meaning it is secluded and tranquil.
Once you arrive, you’re greeted with a small pebble, and sand beach with plenty of sun loungers, a couple of excellent restaurants, and a water sport rental centre for when you want to go jet-skiing, snorkelling, paddle boarding, or rent a pedalo.
You can enjoy the beautiful views across the Cap, even sitting on the sand.
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6- Plage de la Bocca
One of the best beaches just outside the famous city of Cannes, Plage de la Bocca is one of the region’s sandy beaches, unlike the pebbles you will find elsewhere.
Although many large hotel chains have made their beaches private, Bocca is free to use and big enough for everyone.
The beach is a picture postcard area with a few swaying palm trees and sapphire water, which is warm and calm enough for swimming.
The beach is most popular with families who bring kids here to paddle and enjoy the sun, but you can also do water sports and relax in a café or restaurant by the beach with some fresh seafood or a cold glass of wine.
7- Plage de Pampelonne
St. Tropez is easily the most glitzy and well-known spot on the French Riviera, and Pampelonne is the best beach.
Everyone who’s anyone goes to Pampelonne, even as it continues to grow in popularity with tourists.
Famous for being the birthday bash spot of Brigitte Bardot, among other famous stars, the beach itself is open to the public and has pretty umbrellas, deck chairs, soft sand and gentle lapping waves.
However, the beach is lined with expensive hotels, high-end restaurants, bars, and clubs that stay open into the early hours.
Although the best time to go would usually be summer, the beach is flooded with crowds, so visiting on a weekday, particularly outside of July and August, is highly recommended.
8- Calvi Beach
When you think of the French Riviera, St. Tropez and Cannes are first to mind, but the island of Corsica has more than 200 beaches.
Calvi Beach is on the north side of the island and is a huge four miles in length, meaning at any given time, you’ll find somewhere on the soft white sand devoid of people.
That’s not to say the beach is deserted; however, it is very popular with locals and families.
There are many water sports besides swimming and snorkelling, such as paddle boarding, jet skiing, sailing and more.
Once the sun and waves have wiped you out, head to one of the many eateries for a snack or a tasty French meal.
9- Notre-Dame Beach
Notre Dame beach is on the small island of Porquerolles, which makes it much less visited than the more famous names.
The island scenery is remote and beautiful; however, this also means there isn’t much in the way of amenities, including restaurants and cafes.
You can find some local places in the nearby village, but if you’re spending the day at this beach, it might be good to take a picnic.
To reach the beach, you can hop on a quick ferry from either Toulon or St. Tropez and then take a short walk to the beach.
10- Esclamandes Beach
Esclamandes is in the French region of Frejus and has a little something for everyone.
It’s more than a kilometre long and is one of the longest beaches on the French Riviera.
The beach has three distinct sections depending on what you’re interested in.
The first section is for families with breakwaters and reasonably calm waters so children can safely swim.
The more open beach area is popular for kite surfing and windsurfing due to the higher waves and strong winds.
Finally, a small section at one end of the beach is reserved for a long-time love of French naturism.
Stick to the main sections and enjoy lots of space to yourself, fun activities and a choice of places to get a bite to eat.
11- Plage de l’Escalet
Another pretty St Tropez beach, Plage de l’Escalet, is a little wild and remote, making it even more worth seeing.
Arrive early, as the parking area can fill up fast in summer, and from there, you’ll still need to follow an easy trail to the beach.
The beach is a cove, stretching around into the sea and ending in a small tree-covered outcrop, which you can also explore if you’re up for a walk.
In the summertime, the water is warm and generally calm, which is good for swimming, but occasionally waves and currents can be rough so take note of sea conditions.
Outside of the summer months, the water can be on the colder side, however, you can still sunbathe, relax on the beach or take out a paddleboard or kayak to explore the vicinity.
12- Plage Rayol Canadel
This beach is one of the most exclusive and beautiful on the French Riviera, located on the Cap Negre, which the family of Carla Bruni almost entirely owns.
The small cove here is a hidden gem, surrounded by high rocky cliffs that hide it from the outside world, with soft golden sand and sweeping views of the Cap.
Due to its popularity with the upper echelons of society, you can either arrive early to find a spot to put down your towel.
Or, if you want to secure a perfect day in the sun, head to the nearby Club Tropicana to rent a (high-priced) sunbed for the day.
13- Palmes Beach
Palmes Beach is the main beach in the town of Menton, which lies directly by the beach.
Despite looking much like the more popular Riviera towns of Cannes and Nice, with tall palm trees, elegant buildings and cute patisseries, the town is very quiet, which is good news for those wanting to hit the beach.
The beach may not glow with the golden sands you’ll find elsewhere, in fact, some parts are quite rocky, but it is long, with clear waters and plenty of water sports options.
The town is also quintessentially French, and you’ll find no shortage of restaurants, wine bars, cafes and shops to explore.
14- Plage de la Gravette
Antibes is a fascinating and historic town reminiscent of a time forgotten.
Right in the middle of the Old Town’s coastline lies Plage de la Gravette, arguably one of the prettiest beaches Antibes has to offer.
Backed by the fortress walls of the Old Town, it is protected from large swells, making it safe for swimming and popular with families.
It is fairly small, but similarly, due to being surrounded by the town’s buildings and ramparts, the sun heats up the beach, and it stays warm throughout the day.
The beach here is more like very finely ground pebbles, but this is still soft enough to walk on.
Food-wise, picnics are welcome (even encouraged!), and you can pick up ingredients at the local market.
Otherwise, wander a short distance into Antibes to find a variety of excellent food spots.
15- Plage de Passable
Also, in the previously mentioned area of Sant-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Plage de Passable is another exclusive beach divided into two private sections.
The beach is not huge, but people aren’t afraid to get cosy, setting up bright parasols and towels in lines along the coast.
The surface is also fine pebbles, but the water makes it worth it – crystal clear with almost no waves, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
For food, or if you’re curious about accessing the private section of the beach, head to Passable Plage, which manages this stretch of sand.
16- Plage des Sablettes
Plage des Sablettes is another beach in Menton, just a stone’s throw from Monaco, the playground of the rich and famous.
It’s a strong contender for the best beach in the area, along with Palmes, however, this beach has a pretty backdrop of Menton’s colourful houses and old-style architecture.
The beach is long and sandy, with the same warm, calm waters you can find along this section of the coastline.
Plus, there are more than enough amenities to set you up for the day.
You can easily stay on the beach all day if you bring a picnic and use the charging huts and showers.
For more exploration, hit the shops and restaurants in Menton proper.
17- Blue Beach
Blue Beach in Nice is the kind of beach you’ll see in Instagram photos posted by influencers sunning in the South of France.
With classic blue ocean stretching out in front of you and lined with row upon row of photogenic black and white striped beach umbrellas, it’s very popular and one of the area’s best public beaches.
There are many activities to take advantage of, such as parasailing, water skiing and kayaking; you can rent gear from the main water sports centre by the beach.
Like many others, the beach also has a private section.
This is managed by Blue Beach restaurant, where you can enjoy a great meal and pay for a sunbed or umbrella for the day. Also, check out this tour.
18- Cap Taillat
Cap Taillat is in Ramateuille, just south of St. Tropez and far more remote.
As it’s one of the few areas of the French Riviera that has been left undeveloped, you won’t find many hotels or restaurants, but you will find plenty of natural beauty.
To get here, you’ll need to hike a 3km path along the coast, which passes many other small coves and sandy beaches if you can’t quite make it as far as Taillat.
All of the beaches in this area have perfect white sand and gentle waters but almost no amenities besides a few outdoor showers, so bring all your supplies with you for a lovely and undisturbed day out.
19- Plage du Camp Long
Agay is an undiscovered and spectacular bay in the South of France, surrounded by lush green hills dotted with local houses and waters sprinkled with small private sailing boats and yachts.
A haunt for savvy locals and the elite, the secluded cove almost forms a circle, making the waters into a lagoon with virtually no waves.
The water here is impeccably clear, and although the beach isn’t huge, you can find a spot if you avoid peak days such as weekends.
It is also great for water and on-land sports, with beautiful walks and hikes in the surrounding hills if you feel active or want a sunset view over the coastline.
20- En Vau
En Vau may be one of the most difficult but rewarding beaches.
Located along the Massif de Calanques, a long stretch of limestone cliffs and caves that run between Marseille and Cassis, the beach will be your reward for a bit of a hike.
The beach is at the very base of the cliffs, meaning you’ll need to hike down a steep path, which is usually not recommended for young children.
The setting, however, is stunning, with towering rock formations rising above the sand and the beach is entirely hidden from the outside world.
There is space to relax and enjoy the crystalline waters here, but only if you come outside of July and August, and preferably on a weekday.
On weekends in high season, you may be unlucky enough to find this beach mobbed by locals, Instagrammers, rock climbers and tourist boats keen to get a taste of this spectacular cove.
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