The beaches are probably the largest and most valuable attraction on the Côte d’Azur. Every day during the summer they are crowded with thousands of tourists. Which beaches on the French Riviera are the most beautiful, which are worth visiting, and how do they differ? Here is my subjective guide!
Summer on the French Riviera is long and hot – and of course sunny. It’s the perfect conditions for sunbathing. Often, it’s so warm that nothing other than lying on the beach is possible. On the French Riviera, of course, there is a whole bunch of beaches, and all of them are different. That’s why we usually go to different places, still looking for the most beautiful beach. A few of the places I’ve visited can be found below. They are all near Nice.
Where are the sandy beaches on the French Riviera?
Unfortunately, the beaches on the French Riviera between Menton and Cannes are mostly pebble or fine gravel. There are, however, some beautiful wide sandy beaches, for example, in Cannes and St. Tropez. It’s worth going there if sand is key for you. Narrow but sandy beaches can be found near Antibes and Juan-les-Pins.
Good to know: Almost all official beaches on the Cote d’Azur are divided into free zones, usually with a shower; and private areas, where there is a restaurant with paid sunbeds and sanitary facilities.
Pleasant beaches on the French Riviera:
The beach at Villefranche-sur-Mer
First, my favorite – the Plage des Marinieres at Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is covered with a fine gravel, so you do not need to use special shoes. In addition, the beach lies in a large bay, so that the water here is usually very calm, warm, and transparent. Sometimes I use a mask and go snorkeling here – watching life underwater.
There is a bar with snacks and drinks on the beach, which is a plus; and one more additional plus is the proximity of the train station. The Villefranche-sur-Mer stop is basically right above the beach. Just go down the stairs and you’re ready to enjoy the water and sunny attractions. On the minus side, there is only one shower (at least in the part I use, which is closer to the center of Villefranche and the train station) and a dingy toilet.
Paloma beach on the Cap-Ferrat peninsula
When I visited Paloma beach on the Cap-Ferrat peninsula, I immediately added it to my list of favorite beaches on the French Riviera. It’s very small, and most of it is occupied by a private restaurant. However, there is a small section where you can enjoy the beach’s charms for free. Above all, it impresses with a view of the Dog’s Head over Monaco and the numerous yachts moored within sight. Secondly, the water is clean and transparent.
On the minus side, it should be noted that it’s a pebble beach (so it’s worth having swimming shoes with you), and also that the sun hides behind the rocks and trees very quickly, so it’s definitely worth going to this beach before noon! There is a shower on the beach, and the restaurant also serves snacks and ice creams without having to order complete (and expensive) dishes.
To reach Paloma Beach, take bus 81 from Nice and get off at the last stop, which is in the port of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Finally, you have to go about 400 m to the south. You can also get there by car, but there are always big problems with parking! I use a scooter, and this seems to be the best solution.
The Petite Afrique beach at Beaulieu-sur-Mer
The La Petite Afrique beach is my latest discovery. This beach is hidden from tourists, who are unaware of its location, and so there are no crowds. To visit it, you have to enter Beaulieu-sur-Mer’s yacht harbor and then turn left. At the end, behind the restaurants, is the entrance to the beach.
La Petite Afrique has a large sunbathing area with great infrastructure. There are toilets, plenty of showers, and there is even a special walkway so you can walk along the beach and into the water. There are many palms around, which definitely add charm to the place. The downside of the beach is, unfortunately, a very small cove in which to swim, which sometimes causes the water to become cloudy.
The beach also has a fenced volleyball court and a snack bar (pizza, cold sandwiches, ice cream). The beach is covered with fine gravel, but not as pleasant as it is in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I use swimming shoes here (but they are not really necessary).
Larvotto beach in Monaco, Monte Carlo
The most prestigious of the beaches described here is, of course, Larvotto beach in Monaco’s Monte Carlo. Every tourist wants to visit this place, however, the truth is that it’s a very ordinary beach! It’s crowded and covered with gray gravel. You can, of course, count on full infrastructure in the form of toilets, showers, shops, and restaurants. The water is transparent, and special nets protect the pool from jellyfish. Other beaches also use this solution, but in Monte Carlo they have by far the largest pool.
It’s the only beach in Monaco, so it’s easy to find it.
The beach in Nice
I have left the beach in Nice till last, mainly because of its popularity. It’s long – a few kilometers – but unfortunately completely pebbled. There are often bigger waves, the water is rarely transparent (but it does have an amazing azure color!), and without special shoes you can have a problem getting off the beach. There are showers and several private restaurants with sunbeds (€18 – €25 per day). Toilets are, unfortunately, only available in restaurants.