This June will be our 10th year anniversary of living in the South of France. We have always been on the look out during this time for a good beach to take our 3 boys to. The Brittany coast has some lovely coves and the Vendee and the Atlantic coast between Bordeaux and Biratitz have some fantastic beaches, with great rollers excellent for surfing and wake boarding. But if you are looking for the best beaches in France to chill out on this summer, then there is only one place you need to head for and that is the Mediterranean coast. So let us take you on a tour of what we think are the 10 best beaches in France.

 

 

 

1. Best beaches in France - Cap d’Antibes: La Salis, Plage du Ponteil, Plage de la Garoupe

 

cap antibesLike Cap Ferrat, Cap d'Antibes has had a long association with the rich and famous. Since 1870 the glamorous Hotel du Cap high up on the dense tree covered cliff has been one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Guests who have stayed there included Marlene Dietrich, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Winston Churchill. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton conducted an affair and honeymooned there. Pablo Picasso came to the town in 1946 and was invited to stay in the castle. During his six month stay, Picasso painted and started his fascination with ceramics and tapestries. When he departed Picasso left a number of his works for the municipality. The castle has since officially became the Picasso Museum. Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club has a palatial mansion in Cap d’Antibes

 

There are 48 beaches along the 25 km of coastline that surround Antibes and Juan les Pins. The main public beaches are La Salis, on the edge of Le Cap d'Antibes and Plage du Ponteil. But be warned, the public beaches are usually very crowded in the summer time. The bay of La Garoupe has some beautiful soft sand beaches and provides a magnificent view of Antibes. This is also a popular spot for snorkelers, attracted by the clear blue water. Classy (and expensive) beach clubs occupy most of the beach spaces, the coolest ones reportedly being Plage Keller and Plage Joseph.

 

 

 

2. Best beaches in France - Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

 

roquebrun cap martinRoquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, is beautifully situated on the French Riviera and enjoys spectacular views of the bay of Menton and the Italian Riviera. This pretty French Riviera vacations resort is one of the most picturesque places to visit on the Côte d’Azur. The beaches around the Roquebrun Cap Martin are stylish and chic, offering visitors a true taste of the Riviera lifestyle. Roquebrun Cap Martin’s proximity to Monaco ensures that it is very popular with visitors throughout the tourist season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Best beaches in France - Villefranche-sur-mer: Plage des Marinières, Plage de la Darse

 

villefranche-sur-MerVillefranche-sur-mer, is a picturesque old fishing village located just a few kilometres outside of Nice. Compared to other beaches surrounding Nice, the beaches at Villefranche-sur-mer are relatively quiet even in the summer months. Plage des Marinières is the main beach and is located at the north end of the bay. It stretches for 1 km under the track of the railway line linking Nice to Italy. The deep bay off Villefranche was exploited by the French and American navies for many yearsand is now a popular mooring point for cruise liners. The old town and the bay have been used as the setting for many famous films, including Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery, The Jewel of the Nile with Michael Douglas and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin. These Southern France beaches are popular with families and snorkelers (there are plenty of rocky inlets to explore). The beaches are lined with some nice cafes and shops. The Plage de la Darse beach, South France, is made up of sand and some pebbles and is located behind the main jetty of the harbour of La Darse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Best beaches in France - St Tropez: Port Grimaud beach, Tahiti plage and Rayol Canadel-sur-mer

 

sttropezPort Grimaud is located in between Saint-tropez and Sainte-maxime. This seaside town was created by architect François Spoerry in the 1960s and built out of the marshes of the bay of Saint Tropez. Built with small canals like Venice, the mainly traffic free town is popular with boat owners as most properties come with their own berth. The beach, located slightly away from town is one long stretch of golden sand. The sea is shallow and gently sloping, making it perfect for families. Windsurfing and kayak hire is also available. Port Grimaud beach does get quite busy during the high season, but it is probably one of the best beaches around St Tropez (the other notable beach being Tahiti beach on the other side of Saint Tropez - although be careful not to venture into the Naturist section).

 


Moving along the coast from St Tropez towards Toulon, Rayol Canadel-sur-mer is a small stretch of coastline, which rarely gets busy, even in August. This is the coolest beach in the area, and has a few great bars. Our kids loved going to this beach because there is a diving platform a little way out in the bay. The beach can be tricky to find and the best way to find Rayol Canadel-sur-mer, is by taking the track from the airstrip at nearby Cogolin, past the campsite and up over the hill. The views coming down the other side of the hill are magnificent.

 

 

 

5. Best beaches in France South - Cap Ferrat, Paloma Plage

 

cap FerratCap Ferrat is reportedly one of the richest areas of Europe. It rivals Monaco for more millionaires per hectare. Cap Ferrat first became the destination of the rich and famous just after the First World War. King Leopold II of Belgium, started the trend for building magnificent villas. The writer W. Somerset Maugham bought Villa Mauresque in 1928 and lived there before and after World War II. Current famous residents include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in Villa Maryland and musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Just below the classy village of Saint-jean you will find a tree lined stretch of sand with a shallow bay. The water is crystal clear and you can get a wonderful view of the palatial mansions by swimming out into the bay. The beach of Paloma Plage is popular with divers (on account of the clear water). The public stretch of beach at Paloma Plage can be found by heading towards Paloma point and walking down the short footpath to the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Best beaches in France South - Cannes: Plage du Midi, Plages de la Boca

 

cannes-1The beach at Cannes tends to divide people into two camps. Some people love the feel of this beach right in the centre of glamorous Cannes, with its world famous film festival. Others complain about this crowded South France beach and the quality of the sand. 

 


The public beach at Cannes is situated near to the Palais des Festivals. Also look for signs to Plages du Midi and Plages de la Bocca on the western edges of the town. Yes you may get to see some of the 'beautiful people' wandering around the beach side promenade in central Cannes, but they are more likely to head for some of the private beaches owned by the hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Best beaches in France South - Calanques beach between Cassis and Marseilles

 

cassisThe stretch of the Mediterranean coastline between Marseille and Cassis has quite a few dull beaches, but the cove near Cassis called Les Calanques offers perhaps the most dramatic beach you will find in the South of France. With crystal clear water and the dramatic cliffs plunging into the sea, the Calanques is a spectacular location. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Best beaches in France South - Port Grimaud beach

 

x gruissan plage2Port Grimaud is located in between Saint-tropez and Sainte-maxime. This seaside town was created by architect François Spoerry in the 1960s and built out of the marshes of the bay of Saint Tropez. Built with small canals like Venice, the mainly traffic free town is popular with boat owners as most properties come with their own berth. The beach, located slightly away from town is one long stretch of golden sand. The sea is shallow and gently sloping, making it perfect for families. Windsurfing and kayak hire is also available. Port Grimaud beach does get quite busy during the high season, but it is probably one of the best beaches around St Tropez.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Best beaches in France South -Rayol Canadel-sur-Mer

 

canadel royalMoving along the coast from St Tropez towards Toulon, Rayol Canadel-sur-mer is a small stretch of coastline, which rarely gets busy, even in August. This is the coolest beach in the area, and has a few great bars. Our kids loved going to this beach because there is a diving platform a little way out in the bay. The beach can be tricky to find and the best way to find Rayol Canadel-sur-mer, is by taking the track from the airstrip at nearby Cogolin, past the campsite and up over the hill. The views coming down the other side of the hill are magnificent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Best beaches in France South - Theoule-sur-mer

 

 

 x theoule sur mer beachIf you are in the Cannes region, I would be tempted to give the local beaches a miss and head straight to the beaches near to Theoule-sur-mer. Theoule-sur-mer is a lovely little coastal village, with plenty of little restaurants, a small marina and dramatic cliffs. The long strip of golden sand to the north of Theoule-sur-mer is a quite calm, with a few bars and cafes around to give you respite from the sun. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to next . . . ?

Contact Iain by Email or by phone +33 6 95 00 28 44 if you have any particular questions you would like to ask about visiting the South of France. If you liked the article then please share it with others using the Twitter, Facebook and G+ buttons below. I wish you a wonderful stay in the South of France.