Nice Beaches, Côte d’Azur, France
A view of Nice beaches along the curve of the 7km Promenade des Anglais, seen from Castle Hill in late August.
What are the best Nice beaches?
Nice beaches are very similar so it’s tricky to point to the best. The Promenade des Anglais is lined with 25 beaches – public and private – along the 7 pebbly kms (4. 3 miles) of the shore of Baie des Anges, but they vary only in how much they cost to use (mostly nothing) and proximity to other facilities or tourist accommodation, not in view, nor in beach base which is something between large pebbles, small pebbles and grey gravel, apart from a splash of occasional imported sand for volleyball courts.
However, there are two water sports sectors offering Parasailing, tubing, paddle boarding, kayaking and more. One is beside Beau Rivage beach (across from the giant Rusty Chopsticks); the other is beside Blue Beach (across from the Negresco hotel). So if water sports are your interest then choose whichever is nearest to your accommodation.
A typical public beach/private beach junction. The average cost in 2019 is around 20 euros for a private beach lounger for the day (15e for a half day) plus 5e for parasol, 3-5 euros for a beer, 5e minimum for a glass of wine.
Best Nice beaches – Private
Blue Beach, a mid-range private beach with foot-happy boards and pier.
Our choice of best private beach is Blue Beach because a) it’s equipped with that brilliant old-fashioned water-entry system. b) it’s near water sports that you can either watch or participate in. c) it’s elegant, spacious and well designed.
Best Nice beach for some…
These are Plage Ponchette and Plage Castel beaches dominated by Castle Hill at the end of Nice’s Promenade des Anglais/Quai des Etats Unis.
The last, most easterly section of Baie des Anges – Plage des Ponchettes and Plage du Castel – has good points, and bad.
Good: they are the most protected beaches in the bay – thanks to the rock promontory and Castle Hill – so warmer in the off season. Castel is popular with LGBT folk and topless sunbathers.
Bad: they’re hotter than other beaches in mid summer due to that same protection. They also enjoy Nice’s worst jellyfish situation (which is actually not bad), due to currents forced into circulation by the rock promontory, thus trapping the mauve stingers into going round and round. Until they meet you.
Looking for spacious, interesting, convenient winter accommodation?
Want a sandy beach near Nice? Head for Villefranche, Antibes or Cannes!
Plage des Marinières, Villefranche, central section looking east in peak season. To get there hop on one of many trains from Nice Ville station heading east; it’s two stops and 10 minutes to Villefrance-sur-Mer.
Any train going to Monaco, Menton, Beaulieu-sur-Mer or even Ventimiglia++ will stop at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Take the train from Nice Ville station (aka Gare Thiers), close to Gare Thiers Tram 1 stop. It will cost less than 2 euros one way and take about 10 minutes depending on how many people are trying to get on board! There are so many trains we don’t bother with looking for a specific train, just wander down when we’re ready.
Buying return tickets online beforehand is worthwhile – loaded onto your phone – as machines at Nice Ville get stuffed with tourists. If that’s not possible head down the corridor on the right (east) side where there are some less visible, newer machines without hapless tourists fiddling around.
When you get off at Villefranche go down the steps, under the rail line, then down another flight of steps. At the bottom you’ll find beach paraphernalia shops, bars and restaurants in the old town to the right. To the left are the beaches and parking spots. The beach section we like (in the photo) is beyond the jumble of large rocks, where the sand is finer and there is anti-jellyfish netting installed.
In high season both the trains and beach will be packed. Don’t worry about squeezing into a sandy space so long as there is room for someone to walk by on either side of your towels/mats, Niçoises are quite used to packed conditions!