Where To Find The Best Undiscovered French Riviera Beaches
The French Riviera Beaches are known the world over for being glamorous.
It’s a world of fast cars, beautiful people, and attitude with a capital A.
The One and Only…French Riviera
They are great for socialising, people watching and posing. You have to come, just once, to see it for yourself!
On the other hand….
- maybe you love the Riviera but prefer beaches that are a little more peaceful and relaxing? or
- perhaps you’re looking for some fresh ideas for a beach holiday on the south coast of France?
You’re in luck! You’ll find plenty of travel tips and destination ideas right here…
Promenade des Anglais, Nice
So, out of all the french riviera beaches, which ones are worth checking out (for the posing, attitude, celebrity spotting etc)?
Nice, St-Tropez (popular hangout of Brigitte Bardot), Cannes, Juan-Les-Pin, Antibes and Monte Carlo are the best bets.
Here’s the bad news. You might be surprised when you first come here. Many of the beaches are pebble rather than sand. They can be small or narrow (some near busy roads), can get extremely busy especially at the height of summer, and you may need to pay for the privilege (many of the beaches are owned by private hotels).
Unfortunately, the beaches here can be very crowded and commercialised, especially during the summer months.
The good news is, there are beautiful french riviera beaches that are sandy, more peaceful and less crowded. They aren’t as well known – and we like to keep it that way! So, let’s keep the secret between us, shall we?
Cap D’Ail – La Mala Beach
Ok, these aren’t exactly a secret, but not many people know about these ones…
The small town of Cap d’Ail is just west of Monaco. About ten minutes walk from the Cap d’Ail train station is the wonderful La Mala beach.
There is also a walk along a coastal path (sentier du littoral) going from the Marquet beach to Mala beach; and there are plenty of detours in between where you can find your own little secluded coves and a nice spot for a swim.
Here are the details of the Cap d’Ail tourist office if you need it.
Office of Tourism of Cape d’ Ail
87, (a) AV of September 3
Tel.: +33 (0) 4 93 78 02 33
– Cap Ferrat Peninsula –
Cap Ferrat is often referred to as the ‘secret of the french riviera’. There are several beaches around Cap Ferrat that are not well known to most tourists. They are small but clean beaches – and best of all, not as crowded as the more famous french riviera beaches.
The Plage la Paloma, south of St Jean Cap Ferrat (ie the town), has been voted as one of the best beaches on the french riviera. Plage de Passable is also another favourite.
Enjoy the French riviera beaches but want to try something different? How about the Côte Vermeille?
Right at the southernmost tip of France is the département of Les Pyrénées Orientales, often referred to as French Catalonia, in the region of Languedoc Roussillon.
Here you’ll find the Côte Radieuse (stretches of flat sandy beaches) and the Côte Vermeille (more rocky coves and secluded beaches). The closest cities are Perpignan and Montpellier.
The best beaches on the Côte Radieuse would be La Franqui and Leucate near Narbonne, and Portiragnes and Sérignan near Béziers. The northern end of Argelès-sur-Mer beach is excellent too, with wonderful views of the Pyrénées. It’s popular with families and has camping nearby.
The Côte Vermeille is a short drive from Spain’s Costa Brava. It’s a great base for exploring both the mediterranean and the Pyrénées. It’s not a long stretch of coast and you could drive it in less than an hour.
The beaches here are more craggy, and with plenty of small coves and beaches to call your own (or pretty close to it) – but not as easily accessible of course so are a little more challenging to reach.
The Côte Vermeille has a different atmosphere to the french riviera beaches, being so close to Spain. And there are plenty of other things to do to keep you busy.
There are some really pretty and colourful towns worth visiting – such as Collioure, a hangout of Matisse, Chagall and Picasso; or Cerbère. You can also go for wine tasting around Banyuls-sur-Mer; or golf at Saint-Cyprien.
The Golden Isles
If you’re dreaming of the med, but want to avoid the craziness of french riviera beaches, visit the Golden Isles. Only a lucky few know about these islands off the the south coast- Porquerolles, Port-Cros, and Île du Levant.
Porquerolles is the largest island and the most developed (has a population of 350). Cars are not allowed.
Parts of the island are wild and untouched, with vineyards, forests, and fruit groves – perfect for exploring on foot or by bike (there are a few bike hire shops on Porquerolles).
There are some stunning beaches here, particularly on the north side (try Notre Dame beach – about an hours walk from the port; or Galère beach on the eastern side).
You can reach these islands by boat from Hyères. Sometimes the ferries stop running once a certain number of people are on the island. To get to Porquerolles, you need to take the ferry from La Tour Fondue at Hyères; to get to Port Cros and Île du Levant, take a ferry from Le Lavandou.
These islands are truly off the beaten track, so there is limited accommodation here. Also, keep in mind that you are in the south of France, where bathing au naturel is common.