Of course there are so many great beaches in these regions that it’s impossible to list all of them here, but we still hope this list can be of some use if you choose to visit the beautiful South of France!
Beaches in the French Riviera
1. The area around Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer has an abundance of beautiful white sandy beaches. One of our favorites is Paloma Beach on the peninsula Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This small town has long been a popular holiday destination for millionaires and celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. You might even get to spot a celebrity yourself at Paloma Beach, as half of the beach is private (rented by jetsetters) and the other half is open to the public.
2. Roughly between Nice and Marseille you’ll find Plage de l’Almanarre in Hyères. The beach runs from the coast to a rustic peninsula town called Giens. This beach is especially popular among windsurfers and kite surfers. There’s also a marsh area just behind the beach where you can spot the region’s famous wild pink flamingos! Furthermore, just south of Giens there’s an island called Porquerolles, which offers beautiful pine forests and has several small beaches where you’ll find some of the bluest water in the Mediterranean.
3. Perhaps one of the most famous beaches of the French Riviera can be found in Cannes. The beach along the Boulevard de la Croisette in the city center of Cannes is world-renowned, and it is located just east of the Palais des Festivals where the Cannes International Film Festival is hosted every year. The small strip of beach next to the Boulevard can get quite crowded, so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet consider paying a visit to the town Théoule-sur-Mer just west across the bay from Cannes, which has a lovely gold-colored beach.
4. Of course we can’t finish the list of French Riviera beaches without talking about Saint Tropez. The famous seaside resort attracts many jetsetters every summer, and boasts some of the coast’s most exclusive clubs and beaches. Most of these are located about 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the town of Saint Tropez at Pampelonne Beach. This well-cultivated beach boasts many clubs and restaurants, but also offers great facilities such as toilets, showers, lifeguard patrols and sun loungers you can rent. If you want to discover more of St. Tropez, see 48 Hours in and around Saint Tropez!
5. As the second city in France, Marseille is known for a lot of things. Oddly enough, people never seem to associate the city with beaches. This is a shame because the area around Marseille boasts many beautiful sandy and pebble beaches. One popular beach among the locals is the Borély Beach next to the Parc Borély. Besides being a nice beach for swimming and sunbathing, the beach also offers many great facilities such as a volleyball area, toilets and lockers, a skateboarding park and a lifeguard station. Borély Beach is part of a collection of beaches south of the city center of Marseille known collectively as the Plages du Prado. Together, these beaches are very popular among windsurfers when the mistral is blowing.
6. West of Marseille you’ll find the Frioul Islands: a group of four islands that can be reached easily by taking a ferry from the old port in Marseille. The two larger of the quiet islands offer many secluded small rock beaches where the water is a pure azure blue. The group of islands is a great destination if you want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city for a day.
7. South of Marseilles you’ll find the Calanques, which are beautiful rock formations with deep valleys that create a one-of-a-kind coastline. Because of their extraordinary topography, the calanques are most easily visited by boat. Close to the town of Cassis, there’s a beach in the calanques called L’Ille de Riou, which is only accessible by boat. The small beach is a fantastic starting point for snorkelers and scuba divers, as the whole area of the calanques is full of underwater wonders.
If you prefer to stay in another area along the Mediterranean coast, have a look at our entire selection of South of France vacation rental apartments.
Beaches in the Montpellier Area
8. One of the nearest beaches to the city of Montpellier is Palavas-les-Flots, which lies about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) south of Montpellier. The beach is part of a seaside resort with the same name that was built on sand dunes. The town itself is very quaint and boasts many great seafood restaurants, but the beach can get quite crowded in summertime.
9. A quieter alternative is the Plage de l’Espiguette near Le Grau-du-Roi east of Montpellier. The Espiguette beach is a huge deserted sandy beach very close to the National Park Camargue. This is made evident by the natural dunes and unlimited space all around, and by the fact that the only buildings in sight are lighthouses. It may be quite a drive from Montpellier, but the great stretch of beach makes it worth it.
Southern French Alps Beaches
10. Now this title is slightly misleading, as there are no actual seaside beaches in the Southern French Alps, because the Alps don’t border the Mediterranean Sea. However, there’s one particular lake in the Alps that offers such splendid beaches that we simply had to include it in the list. The Lac de Serre-Ponçon is one of the largest artificially created lakes in the whole of Europe. It has also become the place to go for water sports lovers in France. From windsurfing to sailing, the Lake Serre-Ponçon offers something for everyone. There are beautiful beaches all around the lake, where families can enjoy the cool blue water on a hot summer’s day. The nearby town of Embrun has benefited great from the touristic appeal of the lake.
Thus we’ve come to the end of our list of the best beaches in the South of France. We hope you’ve enjoyed the article! What’s your favorite beach of all time?