The most beautiful beaches in France on one coast alone could fill several pages. Need some help narrowing down your choices? We’ve picked 10 of the loveliest French beaches from Brittany to the Côte d’Azur and they’re all ready for summer. Take a look.
Plage d’En-Vau, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Calanques National Park runs along the coast between Cassis and Marseille. It’s a protected marine and land area and definitely has some of the most beautiful beaches in France.
The steep limestone cliffs of the Massif des Calanques are interrupted every so often with sandy coves known as calanques. The name translates as creeks, but you might prefer to think of them as perfect nooks for family beach days. One of the loveliest is Calanque d’En-Vau. Famous for clear turquoise waters and incredible scenery, it’s probably best for active families who won’t mind the challenging hike to get there. We promise, the beach is more than worth the effort.
With a history that stretches back over 2,000 years, Hyères is the oldest resort in the French Riviera. It’s a picturesque town and a good base for several pretty French beaches. One of our favourites is Almanarre. Known for soft sand and warm shallow seas, kite surfers like it here, as do pink flamingos. So all in all, this is great one for families and kids of any age, including keen-to-paddle toddlers.
Île de Porquerolles, Hyères
You should explore the beaches near chic Hyères, then take the short ferry ride to Île de Porquerolles, where a car and smoke-free island which will transport you back in time.
It’s a designated protected area so you can look forward to unspoiled white sands, woods, vineyards and next to no development. The island makes an easy day trip and there are plenty of beaches to try. We particularly like pretty Plage Notre Dame where you can watch the yachts and boats bobbing about on the Med.
Plage de Palombaggia, Corsica, France
Sitting between France and Italy, the island of Corsica is an incredibly popular holiday destination. Active families like its mix of great hiking and outdoors activities and the beaches are wonderful.
Head for lively Porto Vecchio. This charming port town has a strong Italian influence, yet is often dubbed the Corsican St Tropez. It also makes the perfect base to visit idyllic Plage de Palombaggia, which is egularly named one of the world’s top 10 beaches for its azure waters and pine-backed sands which seem to stretch on forever.
Plage Paloma, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Less than 30 minutes’ drive from Nice, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is one of the world’s most exclusive enclaves. Known for sprawling mansions, luxury resorts and glamorous residents it’s set on a peninsula which juts out into the Mediterranean, so naturally, it has incredible beaches.
One of the best is Plage Paloma, named for Paloma Picasso who visited here regularly with her artist father. Follow in her footsteps and you’ll find her namesake beach is great for swimming as well as water sports like kayaking and paddle-boarding.
Plage des Grands Sables, Belle Île en Mer, Brittany
With a name that means ‘beautiful island’, it’s no surprise that Belle Île en Mer is home to some of the prettiest French beaches. The island lies a 50-minute ferry crossing from the north coast of Brittany and we recommend you head straight for Plage des Grands Sables.
Here you can set up camp for the day on a mile of white sand backed with lush greenery, then simply enjoy the sunshine. Or if you’re feeling more active, the beach also rents out boats and water sports’ equipment.
Antibes, Côte d’Azur, France
Nestled in a sweet spot between Cannes and Nice, the iconic resort of Antibes on the Côte d’Azur has long been popular with celebrities. In the past the likes of Sophia Loren and Cary Grant fell in love with the picturesque town, glamorous hotels and restaurants, and of course, the stunning beach.
But don’t be put off by its starry heritage. Antibes’ town beach is very family friendly. So relax, take a stroll on the sand or a dip in the warm water and let your kids enjoy the buzz.
Plage de la Côte des Basques, Biarritz
Biarritz sits on the Bay of Biscay on the French Basque coast. It’s been a popular holiday destination since European royalty started visiting in the 1800s, although these days it’s more popular with surfers.
Plage de la Côte des Basques is a favourite beach thanks to waves which suit everyone from beginners to pros. If you’re not surfers, that’s fine too. Families also love this beautiful beach and its surrounding restaurants. Don’t be surprised to taste a Spanish influence, Spain’s border is a short drive south and you can be in San Sebastian in about 30 minutes.
Plage de la Conche des Baleines, Île de Ré
A few hours north of Biarritz you come to gorgeous Île de Ré, often referred to as the White Island because of its pale sands and chic waterfront homes. Popular with Parisians escaping the city in the summer, it’s a maze of pretty seaside villages and beaches ripe for exploring with kids.
The best way to explore is by bike, as cycle paths weave through vineyards and fields to connect most local beaches. However, if you want to avoid crowds altogether, we recommend Plage de la Conche des Baleines. This stunning beach backs on to dunes and pine forest and also merges into another two beaches, should you want a change of scenery.
Plage de l’Espiguette, Montpellier
You’ll probably come to Montpellier for its historic old town. But venture a little further out towards the coast and you’ll find Plage de l’Espiguette. This remarkable beach is just a couple of miles south east of the lively resort town of La Grande Motte. However, on l’Espiguette it’s like another world. There’s a nature reserve where kids can look for birds and insects. The protected dune landscape is astonishing, and it’s famously breezy. So if this summer is the one to learn kitesurfing, l’Espiguette is the place.
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