Renowned for the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and pioneering cuisine, France is a haven for any traveler who wants to experience stunning history, rich culture, and tasty delights. The thing is, this country has lots more to offer to fulfill your holiday dream. France is home to some of Europe’s most stunning beaches. With over 2000 miles of coastline running along the Atlantic, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean, there is just no shortage of magnificent areas to uncover.
From glitzy beach destinations, awe-inspiring islands to pristine, secluded beaches, here are the top beaches to visit in France that will keep your heart’s on your next vacation in the sun and get you that dramatic and unforgettable French getaway.
Heading to Palombaggia Beach on the island of Corsica is like a trip to paradise. It’s an archetypal “beach oasis,” blessed with soft, fine white sand and crystal-clear waters that entices sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike. Nestled among lush pine trees, enormous pink granite rocks, and low-lying hills, it provides a wide variety of colors and terrain that will please your eyes.
Being situated just 10 kilometers from the alluring fortified town of Porto Vecchio makes the trip more rewarding. Don’t miss out on seeing République square, the city’s main square, Bastion de France, and the Genoese gate, which will seemingly take you back in time – an excellent side adventure after you relish the sunny weather and stunning sceneries on the beach.
Ranked as among France’s finest beaches, expect that this magnificent beach is busy. Rest assured that it’s worth a visit!
Étretat is not your typical beach, as it’s on a league of its own. Sans the white powdery sand, it instead has a beautiful pebble beach once frequented by famous French writer Guy de Maupassant.
Yet, its true marvel lies in the towering white chalk cliffs and fascinating arched rock formations that plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. On top are lush terraced gardens that provide gorgeous ocean views. It’s no surprise that its jaw-dropping landscape was captured on photographs or canvas by many travelers and impressionist painters, most notably Claude Monet.
Just nearly a three-hour drive from Paris, it’s an idyllic weekend escape from the city jam. Be sure to wait for the sunset, perch by the shore, and be captivated as the red skies engulf nature’s own version of Gothic architecture. It’s simply a sight to behold.
Located 40 km southeast of Montpellier lies the gorgeous shoreline of Espiguette, a protected nature reserve with rolling white sand dune systems and scrubland. It spans 700 meters in width and stretches over 11 miles, serving as a massive habitat for many endangered birds and insects. Awarded with a Blue Flag eco-label, you’ll definitely love its utmost cleanliness and safety.
Incredibly rugged and unspoiled, Espiguette Beach will seemingly transport you in the middle of nowhere. As you stroll in solitude, look out for the 1869 lighthouse, the Phare de l’Espiguette, visible even several kilometers, and the main building on the site.
Waves and the wind tend to be the opposite, as they are more pronounced. Though it won’t matter if you love to surf or kitesurf a lot, making the l’Espiguette simply the best beach to break free.
A lovely respite in the Colve of Scaletta’s lush cove lies the gorgeous Paloma Beach. It’s one of the hidden gems of the French Riviera, sparkling within the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula. It was named after Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the famed artist Pablo, who loved to spend time on the beach with his family.
Exuding luxury and glamor, it’s the ideal place to see the actual glitz of celebrities who also often visit and admire this wonderful beach. Afterward, you can go sunbathing or relax on the lounger chairs while enjoying the picturesque view of the Bay of Beaulieu.
Gourmet restaurants offer delectable Mediterranean cuisine, making meals next to the beach’s white sand and cerulean waters more fulfilling. If you want some adventure instead, don’t fret as water sports activities abound in the area. You can do waterskiing, sailing, jet-skiing, paddle boarding, or snorkeling in this French Riviera jewel to get that adrenaline rush.
Only a 12-kilometer, 30-minute drive from Nice, there’s no reason why you should miss the paradisal Paloma Beach.
Big Beach, Biarritz
Known as La Grande Plage in France, the Big Beach is grand by all means. It’s the largest, most popular beach in Biarritz, perfect for those who don’t mind the crowd. While massive in size, it still gets filled with visitors during the summer who want to cool off in the waters and admire the stunning Bay of Biscay coastline.
What’s great about its popularity is that lots of clubs, restaurants, and bars line its promenade. It also has all the facilities or rental tents and parasols you’ll need to spend a worry-free day on the beach.
With moderate swells, there are also lots of surf schools available, just in case you want to hone your skills in surfing. Otherwise, you can just visit the nearby Hôtel du Palais, which was once the dwelling of Napoleon III and his wife, Eugénie de Montijo.
Pampelonne Beach is geographically part of the charming Ramatuelle village but shares the same beauty of the beaches in nearby Saint Tropez. It runs nearly 4 kilometers from Cap du Pinet to Pointe de la Bonne Terrasse, boasting beautiful white sands and sparkling aquamarine waters.
Luxurious beach clubs and lavish restaurants line its shores, providing the opulence many travelers wish for. Enjoy amenities such as cabanas, parasols, and lounge chairs as you relax in the serene bay. If you’re backpacking on a budget, there’s no stopping you from witnessing its beauty, as there are lots of public spots to visit without paying the price tag.
Notre Dame Beach
Porquerolles island ranks among the best summer destinations in France. From Marseille, make an easy day trip to Hyères and take a 30-minute ferry ride to this dreamy island. Though it seems a breezy trip, you’ll see a rare slice of ultimate peace, making you feel like you’ve instead traveled far away.
Among the island’s many heavenly and pristine beaches is the stunning Notre Dame Beach, much-adored for unsullied white sand and calm turquoise waters. With lush pine forest fringing its shore, you can get a lot of shade where you can relax and or have a quiet siesta.
Just be mindful that part of its raw beauty is that it doesn’t offer many restaurants and facilities at the beach. Nevertheless, its spaciousness and remoteness are ideal if you want to sunbathe, snorkel, swim, or have a picnic with your family away from the large crowd.
Nestled between the vibrant city of Marseille and the seaside commune of Cassis, the Calanques National Park has a trove of some of the Mediterranean’s astonishing geological wonders. One of which is the Calanque d’En Vau, renowned for its striking scenery hiding amidst the towering limestone cliffs.
Be warned: it’s a challenging descent, but you’ll be rewarded a hundredfold for making the efforts after seeing the dramatic surroundings. Not really up for hiking? No worries, there are rental boats and kayaks available in Cassis to help you get to this treasured beach relatively easier.
La Baule Beach
One of the longest beaches in Europe, La Baule Beach is located in a renowned resort town in south Britanny brimmed with luxurious hotels, elegant casinos, and spectacular historic villas. Beach clubs, sailing schools, restaurants, and kid’s playgrounds also line the promenade, making it an all-around beach.
Without a doubt, it’s also best for families, as its wide, semi-circle sandy shore provides plenty of excellent space for beach sports, paddling, shore fishing, strolling, jogging, horse-riding, or cycling. There is simply something for everyone!
Just nearly a 2-hour car or charter bus ride from Paris, Deauville is dubbed the Parisian Riviera due to its closeness to the beautiful capital city. Upon arriving, you’ll quickly notice the vibrant, colorful umbrellas that dot its soft, golden sand, spanning 300 meters and stretching nearly 3 kilometers.
Splendid resorts, villas, cabins, restaurants, and bars line the esplanade, providing you many options on where you’d like to enjoy your stay. Boosting the glamorous appeal, there are also old-world hotels, golf courses, and galleries nearby waiting for you to visit.
A truly historic spot, the first polo matches were played in Deauville in 1880. Coco Chanel also added to the place’s reputation with her first fashion boutique opening in 1913.
Trouville is Deauville’s older, more laid-back neighbor with a boardwalk that offers a majestic view of elegant 19th-century mansions and villas gracing the beachfront. The town is relatively low-key, perfect for wading, flying kites, or mesmerizing the sunset and watching the sea bury into the horizon.
A working fishing port, it also has one of the liveliest and best fish markets in the region. Be sure to get some fresh fish meal in the wide selection of restaurants available in the area. Prawns, mackerel, and scallops are delectable, traditional specialties. To complete your trip, visit the Villa Montebello Museum and the Casino Barriere Trouville, which will let you get a glimpse of this seaside town’s rich history.
Les Sablettes Beach
Located in Menton’s beautiful, historic town, Les Sablettes Beach is a tranquil beach with a unique blend of sand, pebbles, and gravel. Though relatively narrow, the spectacular backdrop of the beautifully colored buildings from the old town is what makes this place genuinely unique.
With its shallow waters and warm climate year-round, it’s an ideal destination if you’re traveling with kids and looking for a place where they can enjoy the aqua blue Mediterranean sea. At the end of the day, savor the delicious French and Italian food in one of the restaurants while enjoying the distinct village feel of Menton.
Côte des Basques Beach
One of Biarritz’s most famous beaches, Côte des Basques is well-loved for its vast stretch of beach, which offers a panoramic view of the lush Pyrenees mountains on one side and the beautiful seafront on the other side. Thanks to its consistent, mellow sea waves, it’s also a favored spot for surfing in Europe.
Apart from that, it’s also close to the Rocher de la Vierge, an impressive statue of the Virgin Mary atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. There’s also the Villa Belza, a neo-medieval style structure built from 1880 to 1895 that adds to the glory of this beach in the Basque Country.
For a combination of a city escape and a beach holiday, go to Marseille, France’s second-largest city, to reach the Prado Beaches. It’s part of an artificial seaside park that covers an area of more than 40 hectares created during the 1970s.
The park is public and offers a fantastic array of facilities and activities, such as climbing, a skate park, playgrounds, refreshment stands, and restaurants, which all have a friendly atmosphere, making it perfect for families. If you’re an adventure seeker, keep your heads up as the area also offers excellent opportunities for windsurfing, surfing, and playing sports.
Are you looking for a beach after a visit to the famed wine-growing region of Bordeaux? Search no further as your best bet is Lacanau Beach, a 14-kilometer stretch of pristine beach fringed by rolling verdant grass-covered dunes. It nestles on a laid-back seaside town filled with cafes, boutiques, bars, and restaurants, allowing you to have a super-chilled time as you relish the beautiful views of the Atlantic coast.
Popular activities include windsurfing, surfing, and dining. Yet, there’s also a serene lake nearby and a bike that traverses pine forests if you’re in for more adventures. There’s simply nothing you can do on this beach getaway.
Just an hour’s drive from the wine-loving Bordeaux, you’ll see Europe’s highest dune, Dune Di Pilat, located at Arcachon Bay. Stretching over 6,800 hectares and reaching 100 meters high, it’s one of nature’s breathtaking marvels that steadily alters in size and shape due to winds and tides.
In its foot lies Corniche Beach, which benefits from being amidst the surrounding green pine forests, stunning, towering white dunes, and the magnificent deep-blue ocean waters, greeting your eyes with a beautiful contrast of colors. Don’t miss out on paragliding or sliding down the dunes on a board if you can!
From glitzy beaches to secret coves, laid-back seaside towns, to scenic natural wonders, France proves that it has more to offer apart from being the world’s fashion capital or the City of Light and Love. Go ahead and experience these stunning beaches firsthand, unravel their beauty, and bring a new perspective to your dream French vacation.