Sunny days spent lounging on lounge chairs, swimming in warm, clear waters, and dining at chic waterfront restaurants. This description could be used to describe a typical beach vacation in France.
Sunbathers can soak up the dreamy scene of azure waters at private beach clubs on the French Riviera known as the “Coast of Blue” (“Côte d’Azur”). This glamorous stretch of Mediterranean coastline includes world-famous resorts like Saint-Tropez as well as more laid-back towns like Menton and Saint-Raphael.
The fashionable beach resorts of Biarritz in the Basque Country, Deauville in Normandy, and Dinard in Brittany exemplify Belle Epoque elegance. Take a ferry to Corsica or the tiny island of Porquerolles to get away from it all, where the beaches are prized for their powdery white sand and translucent turquoise waters.
Our list of the top beach destinations in France will help you plan your next summer vacation
In Saint-Tropez, Pampelonne Beach
Saint-Tropez was once only a modest fishing village and still has the charm of a tiny town in the Provence region, despite the fact that it is today regarded as an upmarket resort. Traditional open-air Provençal markets, outdoor cafés, and shady squares may be found in Saint-historic Tropez’s district.
The Plages de Pampelonne offers the luxury guests expect from a Côte d’Azur resort while being tucked away in a tranquil bay. Both open spaces and exclusive beach clubs offer services including restaurants by the water, chaise lounges, parasols, cabanas, and immaculate restrooms.
Along the Basque Coast, in Biarritz
Since the middle of the 19th century, high-society vacationers have flocked to the exquisite beach town of Biarritz. Biarritz outshines the French Riviera in terms of the diversity of beaches it offers with its fine sand beaches, smashing surf, and cooling ocean breezes.
The Plage du Miramar, which is just next to the Grand Place and offers stunning natural scenery that overlooks the Biarritz Lighthouse, also has colorful beach tents with stripes that give the scene on the seafront a vintage feel.
Because to its strong waves, Biarritz is considered the surfing capital of Europe. The Plage Marbella, a rough and rugged beach with crashing waves, and the Côte des Basques, where surf contests are conducted (and where French surfing originated), are popular surfing locations.
Claude Monet and other Impressionist painters were inspired by Normandy’s breathtaking Étretat’s coastline environment, which features towering cliffs that plummet into the Atlantic Ocean. At a series of paintings, Monet depicted the landmark Porte d’Aval arch in Étretat as well as other cliff formations.
The Plage d’Étretat is a pebble beach, yet it is favored for its breathtaking setting. The beach provides views of the 80-meter-tall l’Aiguille (“Needle”) formation, which is surrounded by rocks.
Visitors should be aware of the tides, which can rise swiftly and make it difficult to reach the coast from some locations.
This idyllic coastal resort, which is only a few kilometers from Italy, takes great satisfaction in its 316 days on average of sunlight per year. Sand and pebble beaches, both public and private, are both present along Menton’s coastline. All of them feature calm waters suitable for swimming.
Menton’s ancient village (old town), a maze of winding cobblestone lanes, tree-lined squares, colorful buildings, and eerie staircases with breathtaking sea vistas at every turn, is another attraction. Menton has been covered in lavish gardens ever since the Belle Epoque, when wealthy British residents constructed opulent houses here.
Plage de Palombaggia in Corsica
The Plage de Palombaggia, a picture of an island paradise, is renowned for its expansive expanse of soft, fine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Large red granite boulders and maritime pine trees add to the coastal landscape along the beautiful drive that leads to this picture-perfect stretch of beach.
Palombaggia Beach is one of Corsica’s best, thus in the summer it can get crowded. By traveling off-peak, visitors may avoid the crowds while still taking in the beautiful weather and surroundings.
Porto Vecchio, a historic walled town with charming town squares, outdoor cafés, and a picturesque marina, located 10 kilometers away from Palombaggia Beach.
Le Sentier du Littoral de Tamaricciu, a coastal walkway, connects Porto Vecchio’s Plage de Tamaricciu, a white sand beach sheltered by pine and oak trees, with the Plage de Palombaggia. The trail can be hiked in either direction in an hour or less.
Île de Porquerolles
Beach fans can travel to a little bit of heaven by taking a 30-minute ferry from Hyères to the Île de Porquerolles, which is a simple day excursion from Marseilles (the Island of Porquerolles).
Porquerolles is well-known for its picturesque island landscape and serene, secluded beaches. It has a Mediterranean seaside appeal reminiscent of the Greek Islands. Visitors have the idea that they are getting away from it all on the Île de Porquerolles. The island feels unpopulated and unexplored, unlike any other location along the French Riviera.
Because of its gorgeous location and first-rate services, including a chic restaurant, lifeguard protection, and public restrooms, tourists like the Plage d’Argent. This gorgeous beach is endowed with a fine sandy beachfront and tranquil seas that are perfect for wading, swimming, and paddleboarding. It is tucked away in a secluded cove. Gourmet Mediterranean food is served at the beachside restaurant together with beautiful views of the ocean.
Beach at Espiguette
Espiguette, a protected natural area in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, is about 40 kilometers from Montpellier and 30 kilometers from the Camargue Nature Park. Its beachfront is characterized by calm blue seas and sweeping white sand dunes (a day trip from Arles).
The enormous sandy beach is around 700 meters wide and stretches for 18 kilometers. It is completely wild and unspoilt.
This particular location is made even more dreamy by striking sand dunes. Espiguette Beach’s calm waters have earned it the Blue Flag designation for environmental safety and cleanliness. More than 40 beaches along the Languedoc-Roussillon coast have received the Blue Flag.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Plage Ferrat’s de la Paloma
The suntanned Plage de la Paloma is a tiny haven in the beautiful Cove of Scaletta on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula that looks out over the Bay of Beaulieu and is protected from the winds. Paloma Picasso was the inspiration for the beach’s name, as the artist frequently visited with his family.
The Plage de la Paloma emanates beauty and luxury in its charming secluded location. There is also a chance to spot celebrities along the beach. At this beach, sunbathers join the beau monde while unwinding on lounge chairs and taking in the view of the water.
There is a fine dining establishment near the shore that specializes in serving fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant’s outdoor seating encourages diners to take their time and enjoy their meals while taking in the serene waves and the azure ocean.
Water sports like paddleboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, and sailing are available in addition to dining and sunbathing.
Family-Friendly Saint-Jean-de-Luz Beaches
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is only 20 kilometers from Biarritz, yet it has a different vibe and character. While Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a classic ancient Basque fishing community, Biarritz is affluent and glitzy.
The little village is full of charming shops, restaurants, and old-fashioned structures. Both locals and tourists enjoy meandering through the charming cobblestone streets and relaxing with a cup of coffee or a satisfying dinner.
Dune du Pilat and Pristine Beaches of Pyla-sur-Mer
The highest sand dune in Europe may be located near Arcachon Bay, which lies along the Atlantic Coast and roughly an hour’s drive from Bordeaux. A vast pine forest envelops the Dune du Pilat, which is about 100 meters high. This incredible habitat, which covers an area of more than 6,800 hectares, is continually changing in size and shape due to the effect of the winds and tides.
Hiking and paragliding to enjoy the breathtaking ocean views are the Dune du Pilat’s main draws.
The Plage de la Corniche, located at the base of the Dune du Pilat, offers stunning views of the huge, deep-blue ocean. During the peak season, there are lifeguards on duty at the beach.