While most people visit France to admire its iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Mont-St-Michel, I love my adopted home country for a different reason: the absolutely stunning French beaches. From the striking Atlantic Coast to the posh French Riviera, France boasts some of the best beaches in Europe that I just can’t get enough of.
As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii and spent most of her adult life in France, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to finding and rating the most beautiful beaches in France. While everyone else is out skiing and snowboarding in the French Alps in the winter, I’m daydreaming about which beaches I’ll visit in the coming spring and summer months.
The beaches in France come in all shapes and sizes. You can find golden sandy beaches, wide pebbly beaches, and beaches that can only be accessed through a bit of hiking. If you’ve visited France before and are looking to explore more of this remarkable country, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in France located all throughout the country! Start packing your swimsuits and flip-flops because you’re in for a sunshine-filled adventure around the coasts of France.
Best Beaches in France
1. Paloma Beach – Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Let’s start off this list strong with Paloma Beach, located on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and often touted as the best beach in France. This French Riviera beach is located on the eastern edge of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a ritzy seaside town often referred to as “the Beverly Hills of France.” You’ll be blown away by the expansive villas, the scenic coastal path, and the crown jewel of the peninsula, the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel.
This pebble beach is among the most famous beaches on the French Riviera. From May to September, there’s a lovely (but expensive) beach club on Paloma Beach where you can rent sun loungers, umbrellas, towels, paddle boards, and also have lunch. Book your spot well in advance as they fill up quickly, especially for the front row.
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2. Palombaggia Beach – Corsica
There’s a little French island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea called Corsica, which is just a short ferry ride or flight from mainland France. This breathtaking island (along with its Italian sister island, Sardinia) is known for its beautiful green mountains and white sand beaches. On the southeast coast of this idyllic island, you’ll find the dreamy Palombaggia Beach.
This incredible French beach features fine white sand and glassy water and is a top beach destination in Europe. The beach is surrounded by dazzling red rocks and deep green pine trees, heavily contrasting with the bright white sand. Since this is one of the most famous beaches in France, it will get crowded in the summer, so try to get there early in the morning to soak up the atmosphere alone.
Want to explore more of Corsica’s rugged coast? Consider this full-day Scandola Nature Reserve Boat Tour, where you can enjoy wild beaches, sweeping ocean views, and lunch at an old-fashioned seaside resort. Around the island, you can enjoy activities like hiking, scuba diving, and windsurfing.
3. Pampelonne Beach – St. Tropez
While St. Tropez is known as a hot spot for the rich and famous, it’s also home to one of my personal favorite beaches in France.
Pampelonne Beach is about a 10-minute drive from the old town of St. Tropez and features some of the brightest blue water I’ve ever seen in Europe. Along the wide stretch of golden sand, you’ll find several beach clubs and restaurants nearby.
One of my favorite beach clubs on Pampelonne Beach is Loulou Ramatuelle. This restaurant is famous in Paris and attracts vacationing celebs year after year. If you go, you absolutely have to try their delicious truffle pizza! If you don’t want to spend money on beach chairs, there is a lot of open space on the beach where you can roll out your towel and relax.
The waters are super calm and shallow most of the time, but St. Tropez is known for being windy, so make sure to check the weather before you venture out.
On calm summer days, this beach reminds me of my favorite beaches in French Polynesia. If you’re staying in Nice and don’t want to deal with traffic, consider taking the round-trip ferry from Nice to St. Tropez.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Nice, France
4. Grande Plage – Biarritz
Biarritz is a sleepy surf town that few outside of France know exists. Located on the country’s west coast, this seaside city is a major surfing destination and was once a popular vacation destination for French royals. The Grande Plage is the main beach in Biarritz, and in the summer months, you will see it dotted with colorful striped beach tents and umbrellas.
Take a break from the beach for a bit and visit the Rocher de la Vierge, a distinct rock formation with a Virgin Mary statue. The rocks can be reached by a short bridge, so you can visit even during high tide.
Besides the beach, Biarritz is really a cool little town that reminds me a lot of southern California. If you have time, I highly recommend this one-hour walking tour with a local guide who can show you all of the hidden gems of the city. And if you want to stay in this awesome beach town, the luxurious Hôtel du Palais Biarritz offers the most mesmerizing views of the Atlantic Ocean and a gorgeous place to unwind and have a relaxing beach holiday.
5. Plage Notre Dame – Porquerolles Island
Porquerolles Island should be added to everyone’s list of places to visit when planning a trip to the South of France. The island is located just off the southeast coast of France and can be accessed via a short ferry from Toulon or Hyères. This picturesque island paradise transports you to the tropics while barely leaving the French mainland.
People visit the island to be immersed in its beautiful natural beauty through hiking and biking trails, pristine beaches, and the enchanting turquoise waters of Plage Notre Dame. This is the largest beach on the island and is characterized by its warm golden sand and clear blue water.
You’ll usually find small sailboats surrounding the beach filled with locals soaking up the sun. If you want to explore even more of the island by sea, I recommend this paddle boarding and boat tour hosted by local guides.
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6. Bassin d’Arcachon – Arachon
Located along France’s majestic Atlantic Coast, the Bassin d’Arcachon, or Arcachon Bay, is home to Europe’s tallest sand dune, the Dune du Pilat. The bay isn’t too far from Bordeaux, so it would make for a fantastic day trip from the city of wine.
Bassin d’Arcachon is one of the most beautiful beaches in France and is a quiet and peaceful place to relax all day. At low tide, the bay becomes a photographer’s dream with its swirls of sand bars and cerulean waters. Make sure to pack your favorite travel drone if you have one!
If this idyllic secluded bay looks like heaven on earth to you, consider staying at this bayfront apartment, which is equipped with two bedrooms and a washing machine, so all you need to bring is a carry-on.
7. Plage de Boutrouilles – Kerlouan
France’s Brittany Coast is known to be home to some of the most beautiful beaches in France. One of the most stunning examples is Plage de Boutrouilles, located in Kerlouan. This gorgeous beach is known for its gleaming blue waters and fascinating rock formations, striking beautiful similarities to beaches in Seychelles and the Caribbean.
Visitors can enjoy the seaside’s wide sandy beach and calm waters. Don’t forget to check out the nearby site of Meneham, an ancient sardine fishing port town with preserved stone houses with thatched roofs.
I highly recommend visiting the Brittany Coast during the summer months. While most famous French beaches like St. Tropez and Biarritz will be absolutely swarmed with tourists looking to beat the heat, Brittany stays relatively quiet, and you can always find a spot on the beach without fuss.
Kerlouan is also an adorable historic town, and you should consider staying for a few days. I spent a long weekend there, staying at Le Moulin Du Couffon, a beautiful historic stone guest house, juxtaposed with palm trees.
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8. Deauville Beach – Deauville
Famous for its fun and colorful striped beach tents and umbrellas, Deauville Beach is one of the best French beaches on the English Channel. Deauville is just a short distance away from Le Havre and is known as a family-friendly beach and one of France’s biggest resort towns. As it’s only a three-hour train ride away from Paris, it’s often nicknamed the “Parisian Riviera” and attracts Parisian families on long holiday weekends.
The wide, sandy beach is perfect for lounging, swimming, and just having some good old fun in the sun. In the summertime, the beach and town host many events like film festivals, music festivals, and sports matches. You’ll find fun beach bars, upscale restaurants, and charming hotels lining the beach from Plage de Bénerville-sur-Mer down to the Deauville Yacht Club.
If this chic beach town sounds like the perfect escape, book a room at the Hôtel Barrière Le Normandy. This five-star hotel offers guests luxury amenities and services like gourmet dining options, child care services, and a lovely indoor pool.
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9. Calanque d’En Vau – Cassis
While most of the best beaches in France are easily accessible, some do require a bit more work. For instance, the famous Calanque d’En Vau is a secluded beach surrounded by craggy cliffs that requires a moderate hike to get to. However, once you get there, you’ll instantly see that the hard work of getting there was worth the reward.
The beautiful beach is located in the Calanques National Park, a breathtaking collection of hidden coves, sea caves, and pebble beaches on the Mediterranean Coast. This French Riviera destination is a top must-see when visiting the charming villages of Provence.
To get to Calanque d’En Vau, you’ll have to hike the park’s rugged terrain from the parking lot of Calanque de Port-Miou, so be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes and lots of water. You can always opt to go on a guided hiking tour of Calanques National Park or enjoy the Calanques from the sea on a sailing tour.
10. Plage de la Conche des Baleines – Île de Ré
Located off the coast of La Rochelle, the tiny island of Île de Ré is one of several islands on France’s Atlantic Coast. This island is known mostly for its charming villages and large vineyards. It’s also a major producer of oysters in the country. You can certainly visit the entire island in one day, but one place you shouldn’t miss is the Plage de la Conche des Baleines or the Conche of Whales Beach.
This wide sandy beach is great for swimming and frolicking in the ocean break. Overlooking the beach, you’ll see the Phare des Baleines (Lighthouse of Whales), which was built back in the mid-1850s from limestone. The beach never gets too crowded and is close to several camping sites and vacation villages.
See Related: Best Things to do in Normandy, France
11. Prado Beaches – Marseille
If you’re looking for a fun place to relax or party, look no further than Marseille’s Prado Beaches. The collection of sandy beaches stretches for miles and hosts music festivals and other events over the summer. Along these golden sands, you’ll find a ton of fun and exciting beach clubs and bars, one of the most popular being SportBeach.
The Marseillais would agree that they’ve got one of the best beaches in France. It’s a place where locals and French families can both play and relax. You’ll find that some parts of the beach are more relaxed while other parts are closer to the beach clubs. There’s also a nice lawn area along most of the beach where you’ll find kids and adults playing soccer or flying kites.
Marseille is one of France’s largest cities, and certainly, one that is worth exploring. It’s also a great place to base yourself to explore the wonderful region of Provence. You can take a walking food tour of Marseille, a day trip to the famous Provencal lavender fields, or enjoy the views of the old port at the Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port.
12. Plage de Tourony – Trégastel
If you find yourself up on the northwest coast of France, you’ll begin to notice beautiful and fascinating rock formations. This is called the Côte de Granit Rose, or the Pink Granite Coast. Plage de Tourony is located in the heart of the Pink Granite Coast in the town of Trégastel.
This gorgeous beach is beautiful at both high tide and low tide. It’s perfect for swimming, lounging, and photography. The ground is somewhere between a pebble beach and a sandy beach, so I would recommend wearing water shoes if you have sensitive feet.
The beach is surrounded by the large Bay of Saint Anne, where you’ll find other gorgeous beaches, coastal walking paths, and lots of photo spots. You can also spot the Chateau de Costaérès on a tiny little island off the coast. It is accessible by foot at low tide or by boat at high tide.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Beaune, France
13. La Pointe des Poulains – Belle Île en Mer
Does the amount of beautiful islands surrounding France surprise you? Well, here’s one more! The Belle Île en Mer, or “beautiful island in the ocean”, is another French island located in the Atlantic Ocean and can be visited by boat from the coastal towns of Quimper, Vannes, and Lorient. There are direct trains from Paris to Vannes and Lorient, so it’s a pretty easy trip from the French capital.
Belle Île en Mer is famous for its wild natural beauty, with countless secret coves, empty beaches, and scenic nature preserves. It is the perfect place to disconnect from the rest of the world for a bit. One of the most beautiful beaches on the island is La Pointe des Poulains, located on the northern tip of the island.
La Pointe des Poulains is nothing short of magical. The landscape is just out of a coastal fairytale, and you’ll often see small fishing boats dotted around the bay. It’s best to visit in the summer, spring, or fall. Take time to unwind by booking a night or two at Castel Clara Thalasso & Spa, a wellness resort located on the island in the town of Bangor.
14. Plage des Ondes – Cap d’Antibes
I’m a bit biased, but I definitely believe that my hometown of Antibes has some of the most gorgeous beaches on the French Riviera. My favorite one is Plage des Ondes, located on the western coast of the Cap d’Antibes and within walking distance of the famous Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, a hotspot for the ultra-rich and famous.
Plage des Ondes features super clear water and remnants of an old tower and fortifications. The water is calm and clear year-round, so it’s a great place for the whole family to swim. There are a ton of reefs and rocks if you go into the deeper water, which makes it perfect for snorkeling and even scuba diving.
My favorite thing to do at this beach is paddle board from here to around the cap towards the hotel. I love going in the early mornings when the water is at its calmest. The Bay of Billionaires (yes, that is its real name) is another fantastic Antibes beach that is just a few minutes away from this one. It’s a lot more secluded, so there are usually fewer crowds than at Plage des Ondes.
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15. Plage de l’Aiguille – Theoule-sur-Mer
Another one of my personal favorites in the South of France is Plage de l’Aiguille in Theoule-sur-Mer. This beach takes about a five-minute hike to get to, but it is certainly worth it. Its unique red sand, clear water, and stunning view of Cannes make it a winner in my book.
Plage de l’Aiguille is a bit off the beaten path but is a great stop for those driving the coastal road between Cannes and St Tropez. Whenever I have friends or family visiting, I always like to make a stop here between the two ritzy towns.
This beach does get crowded in the summer months, so make sure to get there early if you want to set up a spot to relax for the entire day. Theoule-sur-Mer features some stunning oceanfront hotels and villas, like the Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa, and is one of the best-kept secrets on the riviera.
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