Côte d'Azur Beaches
Nice beaches and Baie des Anges in mid-summer.
Nice offers the classic Cote d'Azur beach environment with brilliant skies, warm azure waters and a long, curving pebble beach scattered with restaurants and pay-loungers but also hosting plenty of free public space, with showers and toilets.
This 6km (3.75 miles) stretch on the Baie des Anges - virtually identical along its length but labelled as over 20 different beaches - is bordered by the lovely, wide Promenade des Anglais (the photo was taken from the promenade) with separate cycle/skate track. Beyond that is a 4 lane road and limited parking, though there are some large underground and overground car parks on the other side of the road where Nice city starts.
Cote d'Azur Guide |
France Map | Côte d'Azur vs Riviera Map
The Riviera is the up-market stretch of the Côte d'Azur, roughly from Cannes east to Menton, that borders Italy. St Tropez is, of course, up-market but not on the Riviera.
A useful train route runs along the Côte d'Azur from Marseilles to Ventimille (Ventemiglia) and though it's comfortable it's not exactly reliable. In addition it sometimes stops very near the sea, such as at Villeneuve-Loubet Plage or Villefranche but sometimes it's quite a distance away like in Nice where it'll take a good 20 minutes walk to reach the shore.
Sad to say but
we tend to drive along the coast on the excellent A8 autoroute which is generally easy to access (a notable exception is Cannes) or nip onto the spectacular Moyenne Corniche or interesting Lower (Basse) Corniche during the off season. From Antibes to Menton on the A8 takes about 45 minutes.
Menton, Plage du Fossan beach in September, along with invading Cassiopea jellyfish (red lines).
This type of jellyfish (Méduse in French - and there were a lot more that the camera failed to capture ) is usually found in warm coastal regions and often lives upside-down on the bottom.
They have a mild sting since they are mainly photosynthetic, though sensitive swimmers may have a stronger reaction.
These Cassiopea Méduse, on close inspection, appeared to have almost no tentacles and thus would find it very hard to sting anything.
The normal Mediterranean stinger is the Pelagia Noctiluca, with substantial stinging tentacles. It's a mid-sea drifter which approaches the coast in autumn and springtime but is rarely troublesome.
If stung and no official salve is available from a First Aid post, try one of two treatments, and urine is not one of them! Rubbing the stings with sea water (not fresh water) and gravelly sand (some people suggest credit cards) to remove the stings. If hot water is available pour it, as hot as bearable, onto the stings and it should deactivate them.
Large Côte d'Azur Beach Photos with Compact Information
Cagnes sur Mer
Some good but lesser-known French Riviera beaches
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Plage de la Buse, a couple of kilometres east of Monaco and connected by a pleasant, coastal hiking trail, the Sentier des Douaniers.
This fine, though partly pebbly public beach offers a wide sweep of shallow water, an excellent beach café that also rents kayaks and is just 100m from the car park at Roquebrune train station.
Cap d'Ail, Mala Plage, a few minutes west of Monaco is a good size and has a rarely crowded public beach zone perfectly embraced by cliffs, with marine activities rentals and a fine restaurant.
Access is via a steep - though agreeable - 10 minute hike down from Avenue Princesse Grace. Take either a bus to the Beaverbrook stop or drive and park in the Cap d'Ail car park, walking down Ave. Francois de May until you see brown signs indicating the way to the beach.
Cap Ferrat, Paloma Plage. A few minutes walk from Saint-Jean village, Paloma sits on a calm, sandy bay lapped by lear waters. There is a private beach club area and a pricey café/restaurant as well as the public beach. When swimming becomes a bore take a hike along the delightful little trail Sentier Edmund Davies around the Paloma Point headland.
Villefranche, Plage de Passable, a sheltered stretch of pebbly bay popular with local families in-the-know, Passable has a good restaurant and is the starting point for a terrific 4km Cap Ferrat walking trail around the Ferrat peninsula.
Cap d'Antibes (Antibes' very exclusive peninsula), Plage de la Garoupe is the place for wealth-spotting, just a Bentley waft from possibly the Riviera's best hotel, the Eden Roc; La Garoupe's public area is limited by a pricey beach club but the sand is soft, the rocks interesting if there are no jellies at home, the views of Antibes coast spectacular and the snorkelling pretty good. Furthemore, there's a really fine little walk around the shore of the Cap, taking between one and two hours.
get away from the teeming Riviera, try the Côte d'Azur's Iles d'Hyères (resort islands
with more wildness and less motors), or even a bit further away, Corsica, via car ferries from Nice, Marseilles or Toulon. See France
Beaches for more ideas.
Cannes | Antibes | Juans-Les-Pins | Villeneuve-Loubet Plage | Cagnes sur Mer | Nice | Menton
Saint-Paul de Vence | Grasse | Eze | Monaco
Côte d'Azur Villa Photography