The eight best beaches in Nice and Côte d’Azur, France

From the palm-fringed beaches of Cannes, to the chilled vibe of Plage de la Salis, the Côte d’Azur has beaches to suit every taste

Plage de la Bocca, Cannes

Away from Cannes’ many private beaches is the sandy stretch of Plage de la Bocca, west of the city. Dotted with large boulders and golden sand reaching towards turquoise waters, this popular spot is ideal for a picnic or a little lazing about while gazing out at the Côte d’Azur’s sparkling horizon. This is also prime snorkelling territory, so don’t forget your kit.

Don’t miss: Plage des Rochers and Plage 16 have a number of volleyball courts popular with locals.

Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes

If a mix of culture, nature and relaxation tickles your fancy, hop on the 15-minute ferry from Cannes port and sail towards the tranquil shores of Île Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the Lérins Islands. Rich in flora and heady with the scent of eucalyptus, this beloved gem is a breeze to explore – just follow the marked trails winding through the pines. Crystal-clear waters lap along a mix of sandy and pebblestone beaches on this uninhabited island. One of the most standout is the pebbly Plage des Pierres Haute, on the southern coast of the island.

Don’t miss: The Fort Royal (External link) , where the Man in the Iron Mask is said to have been held prisoner for 11 years. Stroll around the historic buildings and ruins, glance out across the scenery from your elevated viewing point and dip into Musée de la Mer (External link) , which is housed in the fort.

La Plage d’Eze, near Nice

If sitting still on a beach isn’t your cup of tea, then La Plage d’Eze could be a good choice for you. An abundance of watersports are on offer, and the calm bay is perfect for a swim. A thin strip lends itself to sunbathing, and there are two restaurants for two very different types of diner. Order ceviche for a sophisticated lunch at Papaya Beach bar (External link) , complete with crisp white tablecloths, or for a younger, more hip affair, complete with lobster rolls, head to Anjuna Beach restaurant (External link) .

Don’t miss: Check out Club Nautique for a wide variety of watersports in the area. From sea kayaking to windsurfing, standup paddle boarding (SUP), sailing and diving, there are a variety of activities and hire possibilities.

Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice

A 15-minute bus ride away from Nice is the beautiful bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, which became a favourite of Hollywood actor Julia Stiles while filming Sky Atlantic’s glitzy drama Riviera. Plage des Marinières, the main beach in the area at the end of the quayside, is a sandy favourite for families, with its expanse of facilities and ice-cream huts making it an easy choice for a long sunny day. Head to the eastern end for a quieter spot.

Don’t miss: The old town is a few minutes’ walk from the beach and is a delight to explore, with its winding lanes, 16th-century citadel and fabulous views of the bay.

Plage de la Salis, Antibes

Running along the base of the Cap d’Antibes, soft white sands and a chilled vibe have earned this public beach a reputation as a more laid-back sister to the nearby Plage du Ponteil. Sit back with a book, but remember to take a moment every now and then to look up and appreciate the views of the old town and nearby villas this spot affords you.

Don’t miss: Where better to get a taste of the sailing life than at the in-demand Antibes Sailing School (External link) , positioned at the start of the Plage de la Salis? If you’re a more seasoned sailor, enquire about hiring a catamaran here instead.

Juan-les-Pins, Antibes

Situated 2km southwest of Antibes, Juan-les-Pins is famous as the former residence of author F Scott Fitzgerald, along with his wife and daughter, in the 1920s. These days, the area plays host to Europe’s oldest jazz festival in July, Jazz à Juan (External link) , while the Grande Plage, with its sweeping views and sandy strip, is a popular destination throughout the summer months for beachgoers.

Don’t miss: Sip a cocktail while listening to the dreamy, soft melody of the piano at the decadent Fitzgerald Bar (External link) at the Hôtel Belles Rives (External link) . Once the home of The Great Gatsby author, it’s now a luxury five-star hotel.

Larvotto beach, Monaco

A well-known hotspot for both locals and tourists, Larvotto beach’s mix of private and public sunbathing spots makes for a great location to watch the glitz and glamour of Monaco in action. Bordered by a promenade and within a stone’s throw of one of the world’s most expensive streets, Avenue Princess Grace, this manmade beach affords a perfect position to soak up the extravagance on show in the famed principality. The waters here are also protected from jellyfish, as a special mesh is in place during the summer months.

Don’t miss: Check out the many bars, cafes and restaurants along the promenade and sip a sundown cocktail while gazing out at the luxury yachts.

Plage Mala, Cap d’Ail/Monaco

Close to Monaco, but without its legendary hustle and bustle, Plage Mala, accessed via steps down from the town centre, offers seclusion and tranquility. Featuring a calm bay perfect for a peaceful swim, this pebble and stone beach has both public and private areas. Remember to pack a picnic, though, as there are only two restaurants nearby, both coming with hefty price tags.

Don’t miss: Hire a pedalo and make the most of the gentle waters. Pedal out, sit back and close your eyes, taking in the relaxing surroundings away from the tourist hotspots.

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