11 of the Best Beaches in France
Are you looking for the best beaches in France? We certainly were, so we hit France’s coast to find them!
With a coastline of over 2,000 miles and access to the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the vast Mediterranean Sea, France is definitely home to some of the best beaches in Europe. Through this guide we’ll be introducing nearly a dozen amazing French beaches which can serve as the perfect vacation destination not only in the peak summer months, but in low season as well.
The Hexagon country has quite a diverse landscape and a versatile climate, resulting in different types of shorelines offering a wide range of beach activities for vacationers. The French Riviera beaches boast a Mediterranean climate, ideal for swimming and sun-bathing. The oceanic climate in the west of France offers fantastic conditions for paragliding and surfing, while the semi-continental influences found in the northern part of the country are great for hiking and biking.
Our goal is to showcase the impressive diversity that the best beaches France have to offer, so we tried our best to include a few shorelines from every corner of the country. And even though we couldn’t incorporate ALL of the awesome beaches in France, we truly hope that you’ll find at least a couple to spark your wanderlust and inspire your next European beach vacation.
We handpicked these places with our own demands and expectations in mind when we’re searching for our next French beach destination. Factors like cleanliness, general location, accessibility, available amenities and the overall aspect of the natural landscape all came into play when deciding about the coolest beaches worth including in this list.
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Okay, so let’s get the ball rolling! Check out the 11 best beaches in France and please remember to enjoy them responsibly, only leaving behind your footsteps in the sand!
The Best Beaches in France
Instead of beginning our list with a single beach, we’re starting off right away with an entire collection of impeccable shorelines, situated in the Calanques National Park in the south-eastern part of the country. The region located between the cities of Cassis and Marseille was deemed a protected area just recently, in 2012, and is home to some of the best beaches in France.
The French word “calanque” actually refers to a small inlet located between tall limestone walls, resulting in picturesque places of undisturbed beauty. This area is filled to the brim with such inlets, some being accessible on foot, whilst others can only be reached via boat. But whichever calanque you choose to visit, you can’t actually go wrong, because they’re all stunning and definitely among the coolest French Riviera beaches you could ever holiday in.
As a matter of fact, we recommend planning your visit in a way to include the highlights of this area, like Calanque d’En Vau, Calanque de Sugiton and Calanque de Sormiou, each equally beautiful but slightly different in their own way. This region is ideal for those looking to combine some beach time with a bit of hiking, since the look-out points are out-of-this-world and should also not be missed!
Where to Stay: For a budget-friendly stay in this wonderful area, check out Mini Hostel Au Petit Chez Soi, a charming retreat that can serve as the most strategic base for your holiday.
Plage de l’Arene, Cassis
Since we’re already in the area, we thought we’d include Plage de l’Arene as an alternative to the calanques-experience mentioned above. This is probably one of the best beaches in France to get a taste of these Mediterranean inlets, without putting in too much effort to get there.
The beach lies at the eastern periphery of Cassis and can be easily reached from town via car followed by a short and quite effortless walk down to the coast. It’s also a great choice for families with small children, since the waters here are shallow and the area doesn’t get too crowded. The view from here is quite nice as well, because you can admire the iconic Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliff of France, from a distance.
Where to Stay: When it comes to accommodation sites, Cassis is filled to the brim with a wide variety of options, ranging from budget-friendly guest houses to 4-star hotels. If you don’t want to bust your budget on lodging, then Interhotel Cassitel might be a wise choice, with its fantastic location, comfy beds and welcoming staff.
Nice, Cote d’Azur
Nice’s southern coastline is basically one long and wide pebbled beach, separated only by small water outlets and stretches of private beach clubs. Although not the most picturesque beach in France, it is likely one of the best French Riviera beaches, due to its proximity to the city. After a long day of sightseeing in Nice, you can leisurely walk to the beach with a bottle of wine, sit undisturbed in the evening silence and admire the dramatic colors of the sunset.
Naturally, as a city beach, it can get somewhat crowded during peak hours in the summer months, but since the coast is so long, it likely won’t be too bothersome. A myriad of amenities line the pebbled shoreline, ranging from quality eateries and trendy cafés to lush parks and various hotels.
Where to Stay: Speaking of accommodation sites, if you’d like to spend the night in the coastal French town, then Hotel Mercure Nice Marché Aux Fleurs might serve as a fantastic base, a 4-star gem situated right by the beach.
Although not the most popular choice among tourists, we just had to include Étretat among the best beaches in France, because it’s too darn beautiful to leave out. This dramatic coastline is comprised of impressive cliff formations, lush green surroundings and a beach featuring small, white pebbles.
It can be found in the north-western part of the country, in the Normandy Region, and is definitely one of the best northern beaches in France. Despite its chilly Nordic climate, Étretat is quite popular among travelers, so make sure you get there early in order to score the finest viewpoint from where you can admire the majestic cliffs and the spectacular arch all day long!
Where to Stay: A variety of amenities can be found next to the beach, including bars, cafés, restaurants and public restrooms. A handful of cozy little lodgings like the charming Dormy House are also at your disposal, making your stay in Normandy as remarkable as possible.
Grande Plage, Saint-Cast-le-Guildo
Located in the lovable commune of Saint-Cast-le-Guildo in France’s Brittany region, the rural district’s Grande Plage should be on everyone’s bucket list. A fairly underrated destination, the beauty of this place lies in its rural charm, small town vibes, welcoming locals and scenic landscapes.
The 2.2 kilometer Grande Plage is definitely among the best northern beaches in France and we think it deserves a place among the very best beaches France has to offer, competing with the sophisticated French Riviera beaches. The mighty stretch of sand is not only ideal for beaching and swimming, but on occasion can offer ideal conditions for sailing as well. So pack up your sailing gear and start planning your visit ASAP!
Where to Stay: When it comes to accommodation, there are a wide variety of places to choose from in Saint-Cast-le-Guildo, ranging from charming campgrounds to 4-star hotels. The inviting Hôtel de l’Espérance is great for those in search of a budget-friendly place to spend the night merely 50 meters away from the beach.
Plage Notre Dame, Ile Porquerolles
The Hyéres Islands, situated in the south-eastern part of the country, are home to some of the best beaches in France and Ile Porquerolles is no exception. With a collection of shallow waters, turquoise hues and powdery white-sand beaches, you might get the impression that you’ve landed somewhere in the tropics instead of in the outskirts of Europe.
Plage Notre Dame can be found 40 minutes away from the marina, but if you don’t want to walk all the way, we recommend renting some bikes to get there faster. There are virtually no amenities on the beach, so make sure you take plenty of water and food!
We also recommend finding a place where you can get access to shade, especially during the hot summer months, when temperatures can go up to 40 degrees Celsius. Once you’ve accommodated yourself in the vicinity of the pine trees, enjoy this unspoiled natural gem that is definitely among the best Mediterranean beaches France has to offer.
Where to Stay: The nearby Hotel Residence Les Medes can serve as the perfect base for your island exploration.
Plage de Roccapina, Corsica
We couldn’t really put together a list of the best beaches in France without mentioning Corsica, could we? Although we didn’t include any coastlines belonging to overseas territories, we strongly believed that Corsica’s magnificent beaches are definitely worth mentioning. The island is home to many fascinating sandy shores, but we chose the stunning Plage de Roccapina which we believe should be on everyone’s bucket list.
To reach the beach, you’ll need to drive on rough terrain for quite a bit. But don’t forget that some of the worst roads lead to the most beautiful destinations, so we’re absolutely sure that you’ll forget all about the hectic ride once you see Roccapina.
The wild beach doesn’t have any amenities set up for tourists, which is quite fantastic, if you think about the fact that it doesn’t often get crowded (the bad road might help with that as well). In reality, all you need once you reach Roccapina is to enjoy this scenic beach and maybe climb up to the look-out point if you want to up the ante and admire the scenic views from above.
Where to Stay: If you want to treat yourself to an exclusive lodging, then the 5-star Domaine du Murtoli situated four kilometers north of the beach is probably the way to go.
Plage de l’Eventail, St-Malo
Plage de l’Eventail, located in the small coastal town of St-Malo, is another one of France’s best Northern beaches which we simply could not leave off our list. St-Malo is a versatile place, offering a rugged shoreline, lush vegetation, powdery sand and historic sights all in one place. It’s quite unique in this regard and we 100% believe that it has a worthy place among the best beaches France has to offer.
Although this is not your typical swimming and sunbathing beach, Plage de’l Eventail is visited by hordes of tourists yearly. During low tides you can leisurely walk over two the fortress, which gives the entire coastline a unique charm you won’t find anywhere else in France (Or in Europe, for that matter). The town is equipped with all the amenities you can wish for, from seafood restaurants to parking spots, but the remarkable beach is what will stay with you for years to come.
Where to Stay: Located merely a 5-minute walk away from the beach, Hotel de France and Chateaubriand can serve as the perfect base for both your beach vacation and your city sightseeing.
Plage de Port Blanc, Quiberon
Next up we have yet another Northern beach with a scenic, weathered coastline, situated on the western shores of the Quiberon Peninsula. This area receives a lot of wind, making it one of the best beaches in France for surfers in low-season. In the summer months the strong winds mostly die off and the sea is usually flat.
The beach itself is wide, long and mostly sandy, dotted by small sections of pebbles. It is a popular attraction both among tourists and locals alike, so you might want to avoid visiting during peak season.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for beachfront accommodation with an affordable price, then you might want to check out Logis Hôtel des Druides, a welcoming lodging overlooking the vast sea.
Grande Dune du Pilat
If you’re in search of a unique place as your next holiday destination, you might want to consider an escapade to the tallest sand dune in Europe. Grande Dune du Pilat can be found 60 kilometers south-west of Bordeaux and is likely the most impressive stretch of sand you’ve ever seen. With its 2.7 kilometer length and 110 meter height, it offers breathtaking views and a surreal, ever-changing landscape.
The emblematic sand dune is one of the most-visited natural attractions in France, but thanks to its massive size, it rarely ever gets crowded. The Dune du Pilat is especially popular among para-gliders, who highly appreciate the steep angles and the soaring conditions. The sea itself is crystal-clear, the coastline is quite remarkable and right next to the impressive sand dune you can also find one of the best beaches in France. All in all, this place is definitely worth a visit!
Where to Stay: For a low-cost stay in the area, check out the inviting and homey mobile homes at Camping La Foret.
Plage du Miramar, Biarritz
Last but not least, we’re ending our list of the best beaches in France with Biarritz’s very own Plage du Miramar. Situated at the south-western edge of the country, merely 30 kilometers away from the Spanish border, this charming shoreline is basically an extension and a less-crowded alternative to the city’s popular Grande Plage.
Plage du Miramar comes with tranquil vibes and a welcoming atmosphere, where swimmers, surfers and bodyboarders enjoy the waves together, responsibly. Hotels, restaurants, parking lots, public restrooms and souvenir shops line the sandy shoreline, so you can enjoy easy access to anything you might need.
Where to Stay: If you’re interested in making the most of your time here, then you might want to check out the studios at Apartment Victoria Surf, located just across the road.
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