Sheltered from the wind, child-friendly Garoupe is a good choice for beach lounging. There’s a free, public section (plage municipale) with sunbeds and parasols, as well as multiple private beach clubs. Plage Keller is the trendiest. Petit Plage and Plage Joseph are also good, and family-friendly.
Travel bucket list idea:
5 best beaches of the French Riviera
Cote d'Azur, France|
The Cote d’Azur is famous for its rugged Mediterranean beauty, though beaches are pebblier and more shingly than pristine sand. There are some exceptions, though (see Pampelonne and Juan Les Pins) and even the craggiest bays have sparkling shallows in that turquoise Mediterranean hue.
The most scenic stretches are dominated by lavish, luxury beach clubs, charging visitors anywhere from £15 and £40 to rent a sun lounger, towel and parasol – but the people-watching and sense of glamour are priceless.
The best beach clubs, around Saint-Tropez, Antibes, Cannes and Cap Ferrat, offer slick food and drink service, brought directly to your lounger – and often turn into late-night party venues. Hedonistic Saint-Tropez, with its golden beaches, is the most famous place to soak up this scene.
A stunning white sand and pebble beach under pale golden cliffs just west of Monaco. Accessed by steep steps, this shallow cove is both glamorous and exclusive. Mala has two public areas and two chic beach clubs: Eden Plage and the Reserve de Mala – both romantic at sunset, serving cocktails by candlelight and playing music after dark.
Tucked between chi-chi St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Nice, the charming Medieval village of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the relaxed, boho antidote to the moneybags Riviera. A kilometre of coarse, gently shelving golden sand and crystalline waters, it’s all free and open to the public.
Sheltered from the wind, this shingle beach in a beautiful, wooded cove is a laid-back favourite of both locals and celebrities. Views across to the Alps are sublime. It’s part public, but best to splurge on a lounger at the delightful Paloma Beach Club – a local institution with an excellent restaurant.
The Cote d’Azur’s most famous and atmospheric beach, with public sands and private clubs for every taste. The sea here is a lovely turquoise. Among the beach clubs, 55 is for serious star-spotting, Les Jumeaux is for families, Moorea and Aqua Club are laid-back, and Nikki Beach is for blingy party types.
Getting there & doing it
Public beaches are always open. The private beach clubs generally close off their areas from Easter to September, daily from 8am until dusk, staying open later from May through August. Many hotels have their own clubs with five-star comfort and service, reserved for guests.
When to do it
The warm months outside of hot, jam-packed August are best for beach lazing: May to July and September in particular. It may also be warm enough to swim from March to April, right through to October and November.
August is crowded and crazy: you’ll need to arrive first thing to stake out a place on the public beach or book a private beach sunbed well in advance. Most beach clubs in the area allow you to book a spot on their website.
Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
Money, glamour and bombshell looks: this beach-trimmed stretch of French coast offers decadent hotels, lounging in beach clubs, fine restaurants and world-class art.
Chic yacht-filled resort, where the jet set parade the beach and party till dawn. Glitz, glamour and superb people-watching.
Sister city of Hollywood and host of the famous film festival, Cannes, with its palm-lined La Croisette, golden beach and five star hotels oozes cinematic and pure Riviera glamour.