To choose the best beaches in southern France isn’t an easy task. First there are quite a few of them, and second – what constitutes a great beach for some, might not always be the case for another.
Whether you’re a family looking for fantastic facilities, a couple seeking a romantic, secluded cove or simply someone who appreciates a stunning sea view, the choice is very personal. But, we’ve picked some we hope will inspire you and make your choice slightly easier…
Some have hailed Cavalaire-sur-Mer as the unsung family beach resort. Close to St Tropez with its serious A-list guests, Cavalaire-sur-Mer is a far cry from its illustrious neighbour. This is a beach where families can relax and enjoy time together without worrying whether they’re wearing the right pair of shades or sporting this year’s must-have bikini. And, there’s enough there to keep the whole family entertained.
With three miles of sand, you won’t be short of somewhere to enjoy some good old-fashioned bucket and spade action. But, if you do want something slightly more active, there’s an abundance of activities - volleyball, canoeing, kayaking, snorkelling and catamaran trips for a start. Cavalaire-sur-Mer is particularly good for diving and you’ll find more than enough creeks to explore along the coast.
Once you’ve exhausted all these, make your way to one of the beach bars and enjoy the stunning scenery. With the majestic Maures Mountains rising up behind, that’s not difficult.
Paloma Plage, Cap Ferrat
Rivalling Monaco for millionaires per hectare, Cap Ferrat is known as one of the wealthiest areas in Europe, but is certainly not as well-known.
A small sandy peninsula, Cap Ferrat, east of Nice, is no secret, yet it seems to have gone unnoticed by many. Displaying a rich tapestry of sand dunes, pine trees, sparkling blue waters and vintage yachts, the French oyster capital is extremely popular with the A-list, including the likes of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Others such as Microsoft founder Paul Allen, Andrew Lloyd Weber and W.Somerset Maugham bought houses here. And, you can walk past the former house of David Niven on the way to Paloma Plage from Bealieu-sur-Mer.
And it’s Paloma Plage that’s the real jewel of the peninsula for many. Renowned for its clear waters, this is a haven for divers, and diving off the rocks at Paloma Point a must. But, back on dry land, this splendid stretch of sand that opens on to the bay of Bealieu-sur-Mer is just as special. Facing east, it’s great for sunbathing, and the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the view, whether that’s admiring the yachts and sailboats passing by or staring at the cliffs of Eze and beautiful Beaulieu.
You can always seek refuge from the sun at the beach restaurant, where you can also hire pedalos and jet-skis, or grab a sandwich from the village and relax in the shade.
Probably the most iconic beach in the ever-popular seaside resort of St Tropez is Pampelonne.
Apart from its 3-mile stretch of fine, white sand and scrub-covered dunes, this beach has history. When Brigitte Bardot arrived here to film And God Created Woman in 1955, the film crew used the beach club, now known as Club 55, as its base. It soon became the place to be seen, and still to this day attracts the jet-set. Just remember though, this is a place where the right pair of shades is as essential as your SPF.
And, due to its popularity, Pampelonne Beach has certainly perfected the art of entertaining. There’s clubs, restaurants, bars, general facilities, sun loungers and lifeguards – basically everything you’d want at the seaside. Aside from the renowned Club 55, there’s beach bars such as Les Jumeaux, which has a playground and great children’s menu.
A little-known fact is that Pampelonne Beach was also a key site in the Allied landings of 1944. Yes, we said it had history.
Plage de l’Aiguille, Theole-sur-mer
Said to be amongst the most beautiful beaches on the French Riviera, the scenery surrounding the small village of Theoule-sur-Mer in the south east of France, is certainly photogenic.
Stretching in a curve from the tiny Plage du Maurin through to the Plage de la Figueirette in the south, you’ll be blessed with views of the mighty Esterel Massif mountains with its secret coves and inlets. Sloping down to the glittering turquoise waters, it’s quite mesmerising.
The most stunning of these beaches to many is the Plage de l’Aiguille. As part of the Parc de l’Aigulle – a national park with shrub-covered red hills, this is a beach with a view. As the widest sandy beach along this stretch of coast, it’s never too crowded, and there’s plenty of space to stretch out.
There’s no snack bars at the beach, but there is the lovely Restaurant L’Aigulle. Set back a bit from the main seafront, it’s a great base to sit and enjoy uninterrupted views of the turquoise blue-green sea and rocky coves. There’s also an intriguing rock formation that’s worth a picture or two. And with fine fare such as fresh mussels, steak and chips, there’s something to suit the whole family.
There are a few facilities, but apart from that, Plage de l’Aigulle is simply a lovely beach to sit and dream the day away.
Shown below are some villas near beaches in France and other property to rent on the French coast. Alternatively click to see our villas in the south of France.
Want a room with a view? You won’t be disappointed with this stunning sea-view villa near Cannes. L’Oursin is set in an enviable position on the edge of the Massif de l’Esterel mountains, where spending many lazy hours gazing out over the ocean is a must.
Hidden away at the end of a private road, amongst the pine trees of the Esterel Mountains is La Cachette - a simply stunning seaview villa. Here you can relax on the shady terrace with a glass of finest local wine, looking out on to the beautiful French Riviera, mountainous backdrop and pretty town of Theoule-sur-Mer.
Originally a fisherman's cottage, built on a strip of sandy beach on the edge of St Tropez, Littoral Bleu is a delightful, rustic property affording uninterrupted sea views across the entire bay towards Ste Maxime.
This traditional villa in Biarritz enjoys a truly stunning location on the cliffside located near the beach and Atlantic ocean at Bidart, a delightful coastal village between Biarritz and St.Jean de Luz.
Ideally situated a few metres away from L'Escalet Plage and its splendid cove in the Ramatuelle area, this beautifully renovated family villa with air conditioning and Jacuzzi hot tub enjoys direct access to the beach as well as breath-taking views over the bay between Cap Taillat and Cap Camarat.