Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, France offers plenty of beach destinations for everyone from families and pensioners to pro surfers and fussy celebrities.
THE ATLANTIC COAST
While the north and west coasts have long isolated beaches, family resorts, and splendid surfing, the water is not as warm or as clear as on the Mediterranean coast or Corsica.
This small resort on Cote d’Argent near Bordeaux is encircled by France’s largest pine wood and offers small and delectable beaches. A couple of kilometres south is the Dune du Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe.
Saint-Jean de Luz
A cozy seaside resort a few minutes from the Spanish side in the heart of the Basque Country. Saint-Jean de Luz has stunning beaches, good surfing, and lots of shops, cafes and markets.
During the Surf Festival each July, surfers from France, Hawaii, Australia and California come here to celebrate the birth of surfing in Biarritz. Aside from great waves, this posh town offers popular beaches, superb cooking, golf courses, several sporting facilities and a nearly constant breeze.
THE FRENCH RIVIERA
In Cote d’Azur’s beach destinations you tend to face more crowds and higher prices, but don’t let this put you off. The French Riviera has a fantastic climate, terrific shopping, first-class dining and nice, but packed, beaches.
The most attractive spot on Cote dAzur is the place for beautiful people, million dollar yachts, expensive Ferraris, and chic designer shops lining the cobbled streets. The town has a balance of modern luxury and charming fishing village look. Sit at a sidewalk cafe, sip a coffee and watch the jet-setters saunter by. Don’t forget to spend a day at Bouillabaisee Beach near the town.
In May, Cannes turns to the hottest location in the world – at least within the film business – when actors, directors, producers, journalists, wannabes, gonnabes and fascinated tourists gather in town. The traffic and parking is a nightmare. Wait a few weeks if you prefer a less busy atmosphere.
Opt for the beaches Graniers or Port Grimaud, and the free public beach in front of the Palais des Festivals. Don’t miss the fireworks show on the main beach during the summer, a stroll along the famous walk La Croisette, gambling at Casino Croisette or a taste of Cannes’ exquisite cuisine.
Corsica is accessible by ferry from Marseille, Toulon, or Nice, or a 40-minute flight from Nice. Aside from some of France’s best beaches, Corsica has diverse scenery with a mild climate – perfect for outdoor sports. Travel here between May and June when the weather is sunnier and the tourists are fewer. The most well-liked beach destination is Calvi in north-west Corsica. Its shallow and warm water makes it a terrific vacation site for families.