Seaside splendor: Nice’s best beaches

Glamorous Nice is a city known for its beaches.

When arriving in this Riviera city, whether on a plane landing at Côte d’Azur Airport or in a cab rolling up the palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, the Mediterranean’s glistening waves and pebble-strewn shoreline are a defining sight.

But, if you think about what you should know before your vacation, which of the many beaches here should you go to first? In this well-heeled part of France, there are four miles of sumptuous sun-kissed sanctuaries, so consult our guide to the best beaches in Nice when it’s time to relax.

Nice’s most beautiful beaches

Nice’s glamour is epitomized by Opera Beach

If you want to take up all of Nice’s glamour, the magnificent Opera Beach is undoubtedly the best place to start. Since 1889, Nice’s oldest private beach has enchanted locals and wide-eyed vacationers, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the Old Town’s meandering alleyways and alleys.

Nice's glamour is epitomized by Opera Beach

The white-and-cobalt-blue parasols at Opera, which have been run by the Maiffret family for generations, have a Jazz Age feel to them; a massage can even be dispatched straight to your beach bed if you need even more relaxation. Order a sumptuous Mojito Royal at the beach restaurant, which is open all afternoon, and don’t worry about anything else.

Ruhl Beach is a great place for families to visit

Stepping down onto Ruhl’s gleaming wooden platform above Nice’s pebblestones, it’s clear that this is one among the city’s more beautiful beaches. It’s a great beach for families and dates back to the 1920s. It’s also conveniently positioned beside the renowned Méridien Hotel.

Yes, it’s private, but Ruhl has its own kid-friendly pool, as well as the Le Coin lounge and restaurant, which serves traditional Provençal and seafood fare. So grab a seat on one of the vintage blue-and-white striped loungers and soak up the sun in Nice.

La Réserve is a beach away from the hustle and bustle of the city

The fact that La Réserve takes up only a fourth of Nice’s beach acreage only adds to its allure. Though its modest size means it can get crowded quickly, La Réserve feels away from the obvious tourist traps along the popular Promenade des Anglais.

The beach’s art deco curves resemble like something out of a sepia photograph; this former amenity is now part of La Plongeoir, a sophisticated restaurant perched above the rugged shore below. Take an evening seat on the terrace and watch the scarlet sun set below the majestic silhouette of the Nice lighthouse and the distant hills beyond.

The closest sandy beach in the area is in Villefranche-sur-Mer

Even though Villefranche-sur-Mer isn’t technically part of Nice, the two cities are nearly inseparable, and Villefranche’s Plage des Marinières is the closest thing to a sandy beach in the area. Small yachts and sailboats bob and glide on Villefranche’s sheltered seas, while laid-back ice cream kiosks line the short coastal road.

The beach here offers a mix of fine stone and sand that means a gentler landing and an excuse to explore even more of this famed coastline, and it’s only a 20-minute drive from Nice across the slopes of Mont Boron to Villefranche’s restaurant-filled Old Town. For a quieter place, head to the eastern end.

Blue Beach is ideal for water sports enthusiasts

While parasailers and water skiers penetrate the breaking waves of the sparkling Mediterranean, lush palm and yucca plants dot the space between gleaming white tables at Blue Beach’s exquisite restaurant. This strategically located private beach not only has its own attractions, but it’s also just next door to La Base water sports if you want to ditch the glitz and plunge in for a while.

It’s also guarded by the Hôtel Negresco’s iconic tiled peach-colored dome – however we like the neighboring art-themed Hôtel Windsor as a more cheap and quirky alternative (and with a fabulously secluded garden, too).

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Coco Beach is a hidden gem in the neighborhood

Because Coco Beach is so little, you’re just as likely to find towels scattered over rocks as you are on its pebbled beach. But there’s a reason Elton John and Sean Connery both owned homes overlooking this stunning stretch of coastline between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Of course, meeting celebrities of that stature on a small public beach like this is unlikely, but it is still a fascinating part of the Côte d’Azur where few tourists venture. Coco Beach sits beneath the hum of the coastal highway above, and if you’re lucky, you might have the entire beach to yourself, with only the soft azure roll of the waves for company.

The beach in Carras is wheelchair accessible

Carras Beach, on Nice’s western outskirts, is so close to the airport that you can almost make eye contact with pilots as their jets rocket into the sky. Its beaches also provide a number of benefits that the city’s more well-known beaches do not.

This is Nice’s only designated pet-friendly beach, nestled between two clusters of projecting stones, so expect to see plenty of rambunctious dogs dashing around on the pebbles. Carras is also one of the few beaches in the area that is accessible to those with disabilities, with wheelchair access and lifeguards on duty every day throughout the summer.

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