Great beaches on the French Riviera

Great beaches on the French Riviera

Beaches from Menton to St Tropez all hug the Mediterranean Sea. Some are glitzy and made for jet-setters while others are quiet enough to just chill out for the day.

That’s my kind of beach 🙂





view menton colored houses beaches


30 km from Nice, Menton is the last city before the Italian border. The winding streets in the old town are worth visiting as well as the shops and restaurants along the way.

Parallel the city, is a very long stretch of beach aptly named Promenade du Soleil, very similar to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.


view of sand and ocean menton beaches


2 km worth of spots to choose from with a large mix of public and private beaches if you want to rent sun beds and be served a cold drink!

The pebbly beaches closer to the old port have shallow and calm waters so good for kids and those who don’t want to battle with waves. But don’t expect to be alone !

Bus no 100 gets you here from Nice in about 1 hour.



Cap D’ail – La Mala Beach


feet in sand blue toes beaches


Just before Monaco in the very small town of Cap D’ail, lies the hard to get to beach of La Mala. It’s a very small beach half of which is public, the other half is private with a couple of upscale restaurants on the water’s edge.

This used to be one of my favorite beaches. Today it is still beautiful with warm waters and an amazing view, in spite of rows of sunbeds crowding the small area.


beaches la mala french riviera


To access this beach, you must be fit to go down the 15-minute walking path and flight of stairs that lead to La Mala.. and up again! The winding road leading to the steps allows seeing beautiful homes along the way plus local flowers and plants.

Park in the small lot in Cap D’Ail’s town’s center or take the #100 bus from Nice for only 1.50. You could also come here by boat..if you have one 🙂

If you don’t plan to eat at the restaurants then bring a picnic and everything you need to spend the day surrounded by rocks and fresh clear water.

Have a swim, snorkel, relax and just e.n.j.o.y.



Villefranche Sur Mer – Plage de la Marinière


view of villefranche beaches village


Villefranche Sur Mer is a small colored village about 10 km from Nice. The town itself is full of charm and worth visiting even if you don’t go to the beach.

This long stretch of beach is made up of a mix of small gravel and a few sandy patches. It’s more comfortable than the rocky beaches of Nice and the water is calm. In certain places, it’s completely see-through!

Some parts of the beach have rocks in the water, so maybe bring water shoes just in case.

Overall it is a great place for everyone including families with kids. Bring a parasol and come early, otherwise, you’ll have to walk further down the beach to get a spot.. the further you go the narrower it gets.

If you walk all the way to the end and cross the parking lot, there is another very small beach which is also an option. But it gets crowded as well if you arrive too late ..

Note: Cruise ships stop here on certain days a few times a month so check if you’re going into town or you’ll have larger crowds than usual!



villefranche cruise sea boat beaches



The train from Nice (Gare Thiers train station) is maybe 15 minutes and drops you off practically at the beach, just go down the flight of stairs and you’re a few minutes away.

There are 3 parking lots in Villefranche. 1 close to the Citadelle but it’s too far for the beach. The second at the entrance of the village good for going around town and local restaurants. And the 3rd lot at the far end right on the beach. (Take a ticket from your car and pay when ready to leave)

Just note that the beach lot is not the easiest to maneuver because of the narrow 2-way lane. Be patient.

A few small cafes serve good sandwiches and nicois salads with a fantastic view of the colored village!



Antibes Beach

view of fort antibes sea beaches


Antibes is a charming French Riviera town which also encompasses Juan Les Pins, but that’s another story. There are two main beaches in Antibes: Plage de la Gravette and La Salis. But I won’t talk about the second one as it’s my least favorite!


Plage de la Gravette

This is my favorite sandy beach. Shaped in a semi-circle it has a cozy feel and a great view of the bay with shallow waters for children to play safely. For swimmers, just go a bit further out. i

This beach borders the Old Town and you can see the far end, close to the Picasso museum.  The small food truck is perfect for snacks or a sandwich.


view antibes beaches french riviera


If you’re staying in the old town it’s an easy walk. The beach is in front of the old fishing port. Otherwise, you can park in the large underground lot 5 minutes away.

But like most beaches in the summer on the french riviera, don’t come too late or you may not find your ideal spot!


Nice Beaches


rocks on beaches french riviera
Galets on Nice beaches


Coco Beach – Coco Beach is small and secluded in the rocky landscape. You have to go down a flight of stairs to enjoy an intimate moment in the sun. In the summer it does get crowded considering it is quite small.

Swim off the rocks or bring goggles and explore sea life in clear waters!

Off season it’s a great place to just chill out, have a picnic and enjoy the afternoon with a good book.


beaches waves on rock french riviera
Coco Beach, Nice. Photo: urbanpax


A few minutes away is the beach La Reserve. You must be comfortable with rocks as there are plenty! Just lay your towel on a spot that inspires you!

Both beaches are located on the other side of the port, on Boulevard Franck Pilate, to the east. Walk to the small Corsica Boat Landing and continue a couple of hundred meters. You’ll see the stairs going down leading to Coco Beach and you can admire the lighthouse far off in the distance.

Between both beaches above is a restaurant, Le Plongeoir. It has ok food- if you want to splurge! But the real deal is the amazing view 🙂


Beaches along the promenade


high sea view cote d'azur beaches


The majority of the beaches along the Promenade des Anglais are “galets”,  small gray rocks of all shapes and designs

This can be quite uncomfortable, so I suggest if you do go to these beaches take a small thin foam mattress. You can buy these cheaply anywhere beach stuff is sold.

In addition to your towel also bring water shoes as some people struggle walking on the galets. A parasol is a good idea as it can get really hot, but if you’re there for only a couple of hours, bring a large brim hat instead you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle securing it.

Otherwise, there are many restaurants along the beach that rent out sunbeds. Prices are for a half day or full day and you can have a great lunch while you’re there. Be prepared to splurge.


rows of beaches umbrella nice


Beware that whether you choose private or public,  there may be somewhat of a steep slope before getting in the water!

You can choose between 15 private beaches or as many public beaches for about 7 kilometers from the east (old town) to the west (airport).

Here are just a few.

Castel Beach: Located in front of the Old town, the private part has its own restaurant where you can enjoy the view. Its name comes from it being at the foot of Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau).

Love it or hate it, be aware that it can get very busy during summer months.


busy beaches castel nice


Opera Plage: One of the first beach in Nice it faces the backside of the Opera House. Laid back but also crowded during summer. The private part of this beach is one of the least expensive on the Promenade.

Neptune Plage: Located in front of the famous Negresco Hotel. Many families come to this private beach.

Le Voilier Plage: Sunbeds lined up in a row, good restaurant although overpriced with positive vibes for all including families.



St. Tropez Beaches


saint tropez beaches sand sea



There are a series of private and public beaches in St Tropez. Some are more secluded than others where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon in the Mediterranean sun.

  • Plage des Graniers: Located behind the Citadelle, this small sandy (but not fine white) beach has clear waters. Not the most beautiful beach but close to town if you don’t have a car.  Sunbeds for rent and a beach club restaurant. You can also just bring a towel and a picnic.
    There is a path leading down to the beach and you can also start here if you want to follow the Sentiers du Littoral.


green path to gravier beaches



  • La plage des Canebiers: From the Citadelle, you can reach this beach via La Route de Salins in 5 minutes or 30-minute walk. Enjoy this long but small sandy beach made famous due to a French TV series “Sous le Soleil”.
    As a reference point, there is a sailing school nearby. Shallow waters attract families and the pine trees protect you from winds.   The view of the bay is beautiful and you can also discover this area by boat to see the upscale houses with a 45-minute tour.   There is parking nearby.


Ramatuelle Beaches close to St. Tropez

There are a few beautiful beaches in Ramatuelle, a charming small town about 10 km from the center of St. Tropez. Try visiting these beaches outside high season as they do get crowded and get a completely different feel!

Plage de L’escalet: Nature at its best, relaxing sandy beach surrounded by rocks where you can sit or lay your towel.
Turquoise waters, fish in the sea and nothing else around. Not easy to get to, but beautiful. Snorkel or just relax and be sure to buy fresh drinks from a guy who comes every once in a while with his drink cart 🙂


beaches ramatuelle l'escalet


By car from Ramatuelle, follow signs to L’escalet towards St. Tropez.

There is a small parking lot but arrive early otherwise.. then walk about 100m on a rocky path for access to the beach. One side is a nudist beach..but it’s quite separate.

After the beach, if you’re feeling full of energy, take a long walk on the Sentiers des Douaniers to explore the area and other beaches along the way.


Pampelonne Beach: A very very long stretch of sandy beach and clear waters with chic yachts on the horizon. Parts are public other parts are private. But it’s long enough so that anyone can find their perfect spot.
Try not to come in July and August as there are just too many people on top of each other!


pampelonne beaches french riviera


It’s not the quietest beach as it’s extremely touristy, glitzy with lots of high priced restaurants and beach clubs. But this beach belongs to the legend of Brigitte Bardot so worth a visit – if you like Brigitte Bardot 🙂

Located between St Tropez and Ramatuelle. You’ll need a car to get there. There is parking onsite.


blue sea pampelonne st tropez beaches



Port Grimaud Just 9 km from Saint Tropez, Port Grimaud is a charming seaside port with its colorful houses along the canal and pedestrian village. Take a ride around on a boat to explore.


view of canal port grimaud tropez beaches


You need to park the car on the outskirts as it is pedestrian only. Or if you’re feeling full of energy then just ride a bike.

This sandy beach lined with palm trees is large enough for everyone and its also where locals go. The waters are crystal clear waters where you can admire the view of St Tropez harbor.

Rent a sunbed or just find a quiet spot. There are restaurants on site, showers, and all creature comforts.

Port Grimaud is so small, you won’t have any trouble finding the beach! But again, at the risk of repeating myself, during the months of July and August it gets crowded, get there early 🙂


Each beach above has something special, it’s up to how you feel and what you’d like to do!


girl on rocky beaches



Go. Early. Enjoy Together.

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