Not only do you have great weather and scenery on the French Riviera, but you are also spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches. However, don’t make the same mistake we did in peak season – driving up and down the coastline looking for a deserted beauty spot….you won’t find one!
From St Tropez to Grimaud the coastline is packed with coves and delightful beaches. And the area around St Raphael has some fine beaches….. but it will be busy and parking can be a problem. So if you want to spend a day on the beach you are recommended to make a day of it and arrive early!
Description: This beach has a superb setting in a horseshoe shaped cove. There is plenty of space although roadside parking is rather limited. There a few small shops and cafés alongside the main road through the village.
Location: 20km S West of Cannes.
General Information: Boat Hire Website.
Our recommendations: Unfortunately the sand is coarse and no use for sand castle builders. However, it’s our favourite beach in the area for beauty, peace and watching the world go by! And if the kids want to swim it is an absolute delight.
Description: The Cannes beachfront stretches for miles. The sand is golden and perfect for sand castles. The views are great and you can take a nice break from the beach with a trip around the town centre. Our favourite area is along the Boulevard du Midi.
Location: Follow the N98 from La Napoule round the bay towards Cannes.
General Information: Official Cannes website.
Our recommendations: Take lunch in one of the beachfront restaurants for a pleasant change. Great for people watching but horribly expensive! Some of the beaches are privately run and charge for the privilege! But there are plenty of municipal beaches as well.
Description: Cassis is a very pleasant Riviera town and mercifully has not been developed in the same way of other towns along this coast. It has several beaches to recommend it.
Location: 20km east of Marseilles via the D559.
General Information: Town website.
Our recommendations: The Plage de la Grande Mer alongside the harbour is the place to head for if you are looking for decent sand. To add to the interest of the day you can catch a boat from the port to the Calanques (mini fjords), or the more energetic can take the marked clifftop walk (3 hours there and back). Round off the day with a meal in one of the cafés overlooking the port.
Description: Pleasantly sheltered sandy beach although not very large. The sand is good for sandcastles, and the water is very gently sloping into the sea which is great for younger children. It doesn get busy in peak season with limited parking. There are cafés at the top of the beach so you if you’re happy with the traditional tourist fare you can leave the picnic for another day. Toilets are a bit of a walk.
Location: 25km S West of Cannes, head for Fréjus Plage on the N98 in the direction of St Raphael. Be careful crossing this busy road on the way to the beach.
General Information: Official town website.
Our recommendations: This beach has excellent sand for digging sandcastles, there are pedaloes for hire. It’s our favourite beach in the area for entertaining the kids.
Pointe du Défende (west of Bandol)
Description: We came across this series of coves quite by chance and have returned several times. The scenery epitomizes all that you imagine the Med to be – pines, bluffs, shimmering sand, rocks and rock pools and of course blue, blue sea with the ubiquitous luxury boat moored off-shore. The main bay is sandy and busy (this place is definitely a locals only spot) with cafes etc, but it is not at all tacky. Walk westwards along the coast and you will find a much smaller pebbly cove that is not so great for children as there is no sand but is great for snorkelling.
Location: Tricky to find but well worth the effort. Leave the A50 at J10 and head east on D559 in the direction of Bandol. After about 4km at a fairly sharp bend near Rampale turn right onto a very minor road to Port d’Olon. Take this road but instead of going to Port d’Olon keep heading south towards the coast. At our last visit there was a kiosk early on to pay an admission fee.
General Info: Fee for car and there is a very large shaded car park near the beach.
Our Recommendations: You could easily spend a day (or more) here. When you get tired of the beach walk along the coast path for some stunning views.
For the children: Great for them as there is a variety of things to do.
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to the Cote d’Azur: