France Beaches Pictures
Nice, with the curve of the Quai des Etats-Unis street becoming the
6km (3.75 miles) Promenade des Anglais and various pebbly beaches below them - all
the beaches on the same shore but sporting different names.
Click to see French mini-guides and pictures of some of France's
Côte d'Azur: Nice, Menton, Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, St Tropez, 'hidden' beaches
Atlantic Coast: Biarritz, St. Jean de Luz, Arcachon
Corsica Island |
French mainland has water on more or less three sides - the Atlantic,
the English Channel - or La Manche as the French prefer to
call it - and the Mediterranean so France has beaches to suit just
about everyone everyone, from families to super stars, world class
surfers to naturists.
The Côte d'Azur (the blue coast) stretches the whole length
of south-facing Meditarranean coast from Marseilles in the west to
Menton in the east, while the French Riviera is the posh eastern section
from Cannes to Menton.
advice is head for France's Riviera (Riviera map) to
get a tan in a busy social hot-spot, around Brittany (north Atlantic
coast but beware toxic seaweed is a growing problem on the north coast and Finistere District) for family oriented holidays with lots of kid's attractions,
to the south Atlantic coast (e.g. bay of Biscay) for space or surfing
and to Corsica island (in the Mediterranean) for the France's best
beaches, hiking and wilderness. See the
Map of France.
of France's beaches are well-developed with plenty of amenities and
few hazards, though northwest Atlantic beaches tend to have colder,
rougher, less clear water while the Mediterranean (southeast) strands
of sand - except Corsica - tend to be small, crowded and expensive
with the best stretches taken by pay-parasol operators.
Arcachon Beach, western France, Atlantic Ocean
A guide to some of France's best beaches:
French Riviera on the east part of the Mediterranean coast from Menton (east, near Italy) to Cannes (west) is the place for a terrific climate, a lively social
life, good shopping, excellent eating and drinking facilities - and
not necessarily costly - though beaches are often cramped, stony or
pay-as-you-tan, while traffic and parking can be a nightmare.
We like Nice for lively, not-so-touristy life, the fantastic promenade but pebble beaches, Cannes for
fine sand, amazing summer fireworks (get close and early!) and beach restaurants (best are west of the port).
Antibes is smaller, less sophisticated but has a terrific beach with good value café - Plage de la Garoupe - and lovely walk around Cap d'Antibes. Juan-les-Pins sands are narrow and ultra-busy, specialising in watersports.
The cute little town of Menton, far east and next to Italy, is about
as quiet as the Riviera gets, though some would describe it as dull,
if not dead.
The Côte d'Azur, confusingly is the Med coast all the way from Italy to the the coastal bend and islands at Hyeres (map).
Outside the Riviera the rest of the Côte d'Azur has a few more useful beaches, especially the sugardaddy destination of them all, St Tropez, where Baie de Pampelonne beaches rule for big-money exhibitionism and Nikki beach is the home of uber-bling.
If all that bling and fawning over fat cats fails to attract then head back to St Maxime or 15 kms south-west to Gigaro where the sand is narrow but the beachside restaurants and hotels are good value and welcoming, the water is crystal and a gorgeous coastal path starts at the corner of the bay.
This is a great (cheap) hotel base if you wish to spend time on the St Tropez peninsula without busting the bank.
Finally, out of the Côte d'Azur completely is big, bad Marseilles, surprisingly with a handful of worthwhile beaches, such as Plage du Prophete - a delightful city beach; Plage du Prado - an unpretentious, man-made strip that offers surfing and toned & tanned bodies; finally, 32 kms away at Cassis is the picture-postcard Plage de l'Arene, a turquoise bay of fine silver shale embraced by white cliffs and trees.
Brittany's large and lovely beaches on France's central Atlantic coast face an annual problem with toxic seaweed...more
on the Atlantic shore's Côte d'Argent (near Bordeaux) is a small and delightful
resort surrounded by France's biggest pine forest, offering small
and delightful beaches though if you need serious sand a couple of
kilometres south sits the Dune du Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe
- more than 100m (350ft) high and long with it.
South of Arcachon and more or less all the way to Biarritz is 200kms
of beach but with few facilities.
SE France, is a large town with some fine buildings, excellent sea
food, big sandy beaches and good surf, but of course chilly Atlantic
water, a fairly constant breeze and frequent sea mist.
Plage des Graniers, St Tropez, Côte d'Azur, France
Jean de Luz, an incredibly lovely old Basque town just 20 minutes
drive south of Biarritz and about as far south as you can get on France's Atlantic coast, is tranquil and pedestrian friendly, sports
an absolutely stunning sea front of ancient basque houses and fine
sand. Downsides, however, as Biarritz.
***Seignosse is a newish beach resort 3 kms from old Seignosse village and stretches along 6 kms of surf-pounded, dune-embraced sand, offering all the necessary facilities for families and surfers alike, from surf schools, kid's beach club, water park and forested cycle trails to a fine golf course of the same name.
Seignosse is south of Bordeaux and north of Biarritz, accessed via TGV to Bayonne, then bus or taxi.
Rochelle, a charming Atlantic port town is one of the
most handsome seaside resorts in France. The area has miles of safe
sandy beaches especially on nearby islands, and with shallow water
they are great for young families.
Baules, an 8 mile crescent beach in Brittany
is the longest sand stretch in Europe. Nowhere near as elegant as
the French Riviera and beware toxic seaweed, but its good value facilities are ideal for families.
Sauzair, at Bretignolles-sur-Mer on the Vendée coast is the
best for surf, while the resort of Bretignolles has wide sandy beaches
and rocky coves.
Belle-île-en, an island off the coast near Brittany
has fine sandy bays and charming coves.
Saleccia Beach, Corsica, France (Mediterranean)
***Corsica Island in the middle of the Mediterranean has some stunning beaches as well as spectacular walks.
If you want really warm water then Mediterranean Beaches from
June- September are pleasant but not comparable to the Caribbean, Pacific or Indian Oceans.
Language: As usual a tourist's relationship with locals - not to mention ability to haggle politely over prices, read menus or discuss weather conditions - will improve dramatically with a few words and phrases of French. This is a delightful and romantic language that will help you enjoy life in France and its colonies or even ex-colonies such as Morocco, Madagascar and various Caribbean islands - so learn French!
Information: France Travel Guide | France Pictures