Here are the best beaches to discover on the French Riviera. The French Riviera is blessed with scenic coastal towns set under the warm Mediterranean sun and overlooking gorgeous beaches and azure waters. The Côte d’Azur offers an endless succession of silky sands, lapping azure seas, and quintessentially French glamor. It’s little wonder that the quiet coves and dramatic bays of the south of France retain such a perpetual allure for celebrities and the yachting crowd.
And if you’re heading here for a beach holiday you’re spoiled for choice among the many oases tucked into the roughly 180-kilometer stretch of coastline that runs from the French border with Italy to Toulon. Each one of these beaches along the shores of the French Riviera offers a unique vibe and seaside experience. From quiet, secluded spots perfect for swimming and suntanning to see-and-be-seen destinations, beachgoers will undoubtedly find a stretch of sand that suits their likes. Keep scrolling below to discover the best beaches on the French Riviera.
An Insider’s Guide To 10 Exceptional Beaches On The French Riviera
1. Paloma Beach, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The beautiful Paloma Beach —named for the daughter of Pablo Picasso who used to come here with his children— is set in the stunning surroundings of the Cap Ferrat peninsula. This small beach is nestled along rocky shorelines, which are decorated with Grecian-style homes. Even the villa regulars in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, owners (or renters) of some of the most expensive real estate on earth, tear themselves away from their hillside aeries and infinity pools to spend afternoons at the iconic Paloma Beach. In addition to the beach and tender services the club offers (the bay is a favored yacht anchorage), there are opportunities for water skiing, jet-skiing, paddle boarding, and other water sports.
2. Baie des Milliardaires, Antibes
La Baie des Milliardaires (or “Billionaires’ Bay” in English) is one of the most legendary locations in the French Riviera. The area began enticing the world’s richest and most influential people at the end of the 19th century when King Leopold II of Belgium and Baroness Rothschild started building expensive villas here. The bay quickly became popular with Europeans and especially Americans, who threw their lavish parties often attended by celebrated writers such as Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
Billionaires’ Bay is one of the wildest beaches in Antibes. Indeed, initially only accessible by boat, it has now been open to pedestrians since 2011 via a small path. Located in the heart of Cap d’Antibes, it fits into the heart of lush Mediterranean vegetation, and some magnificent villas hidden between the trees (right next to it you can see the famous Eilen Roc Villa).
3. Pointe de l’Aiguille, Théoule-sur-Mer
At the western end of the Alpes-Maritimes, in the municipality of Théoule-Sur-Mer, stop on the Corniche de l’Estérel and take the time to discover the extraordinary spectacle offered by the meeting of red rocks plunging into a sea where the blue and the green are charged with nuances according to the seasons.
The Esterel, an ancient massif of crystalline rocks, has a volcanic past, as witnessed by the red cliffs of the park. Coulées and lava projections create the rock of the Pointe de l’Aiguille. The cove is divided into 2 beaches: the first one is directly on your left when you arrive but very difficult to access since you have to climb the rock to descend. The second one is at the bottom of the stairs at the end of the path, so it is more accessible and more frequented. This part of the creek is no less exceptional with a view of the Lérins Islands.
4. La Mala, Cap d’Ail
La Mala beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the French Riviera. This magnificent stretch of white sand and pebbles has the verdant Cap Mala on the eastern end and steeply rising cliffs on the western side. The seawater is consistently clean as harbors are far away. Lazing in this semicircle of Mediterranean greenery and gazing out over the rippling translucent water is the Cote d’Azur at its best. Couple the natural setting with two fine private beach restaurants and you may never want to leave.
5. Saint Laurent d’Eze, Eze-sur-Mer
St Laurent Beach in Eze is one of the least known beaches in town and is particularly wild and uncrowded even in the high season. It is located between the Pointe de Cabuel and Cap Mala in Saint Laurent Bay. This beach has an idyllic setting and is only accessible by a small winding path. After a promenade in the shady woods with a little stream, arrive in this beautiful bay where the waves splash against the rocks and stones. The beach is narrow and you’ll find mostly stones. Attention, this beach is often confused with the nudists’ beach of Pissarelles that is 200 meters further.
6. Plage Des Fosses, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Les Fosses’ beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of the French Riviera. Located to the south, it offers sunseekers an exceptional backdrop surrounded by villas as well as the former Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat quarry, the starting point for the walking trail. This beach is also the longest in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, it offers many pontoons and villa accesses on which you can settle, as well as clear water for swimming and snorkeling. This beach is very famous for the regulars of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, in particular for its calm and tranquility.
7. La Petite Afrique, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Surrounded by stunning scenery and with plenty of facilities, la Plage de la Petite Afrique is one of the best beaches on the French Riviera. Nestled against the cliff at the eastern end of the harbor, with all year from an exceptional microclimate, this famous beach, shaded by palm trees and Canary pines, is embellished with a playground game for children and ground of beach volleyball. Its white shores are covered in very fine pebbles that could almost pass for sand. Palm trees dotted along the beach make it feel like a tropical paradise and pine trees set further back offer some welcome shade.
8. Gramaglia, Cap d’Ail
Located just beneath Restaurant La Pinede along the Sentier du Littoral, Plage Gramaglia is more a series of rocky coves than a traditional beach. The views are stunning in all directions and there is a very pleasant Sentier du Littoral footpath that runs all along the seafront, linking Gramaglia to its two neighboring beaches Marquet and Mala. The beach is overlooked by grandiose villas and fringed with lush Mediterranean vegetation.
9. Les Calanques de Maupas, Le Traya
The Estérel coast, where warm red rocks tumble into the sea dividing the Alpes-Maritimes from the Var (between Théoule-Sur-Mer and St Raphaël) is home to a wealth of tiny creeks and bays. The Calanques of Maupas (Les Calanques de Maupas) is a small rocky beach bordered by red rocks on both sides which sink gently into the water. It’s crystalline and ideal for snorkeling as there are rocks to perch on across the little bay and crevasses, nooks, and crannies to explore underwater. It is advisable to wear shoes to swim.
10. La Réserve, Nice
Far from the crowds on the Promenade, the public beaches of La Reserve and Bain Militaires, provide a tranquil haven for those who don’t mind soaking up the sun from carved-out rocks. Tourists are few as there are no nearby hotels but this rocky stretch of coast is popular with the locals who live in east Nice. Plus, the only sounds you’ll hear are the seagulls and waves crashing against the rocks.
Et voilà! I hope this list of the most exceptional beaches on the French Riviera will help you start planning your next Mediterranean getaway! If you have any questions, please add your comment below.
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