The Best Beaches of the French Riviera
From the soft, wide sandy beaches of the Gulf of Saint Tropez to the breathtaking cliff beaches near Monaco, the beaches of the French Riviera are exquisitely varied. Whether you’re looking for the swanky beach club action of Pampelonne Beach or Cannes, or the tranquil island bliss of St Marguerite or Porquerolles, our guide to the best beaches of the Cote d’Azur has you covered.
Here are some of the most stunning beaches to enjoy on your French Riviera yacht charter as you cruise along this bewitching, glamorous coastline from St Tropez to Monaco.
Pampelonne Beach, St Tropez
No French Riviera yacht charter is complete until you’ve dropped anchor off Pampelonne Beach, where a strip of decadent beach clubs and a celebrity clientele make this strip of sand a summertime mecca for the jet-set. Whether you want to channel your inner Brigitte Bardot at Club 55 or dance on a table by the pool at Nikki Beach, Pampelonne Beach is definitely where it’s at in the summer months.
With its wide sweep of soft sand carrying around the bay for miles, and clear shallow waters sloping gently away, Pampelonne Beach Beach is also an excellent spot for long beach walks, watersports, and swimming with children.
Pampelonne Beach, St Tropez
There’s so much space along Pampelonne Beach that you can choose to join the party or find some peace and quiet. When you’ve had your dose of sea and sunshine, pull anchor and head around to St Tropez port to hit the boutiques, restaurants and clubs
Plage de Notre Dame and Plage d’Argent, Porquerolles
The island of Porquerolles is paradise found, with stunning white sand beaches edged by turquoise water.
|Plage de Notre Dame is one of the standout beaches on the island, with golden sands fringing a stunning bay, and a backdrop of sweet-smelling eucalyptus and pine forest.
There are no facilities on Notre Dame and it’s a long way from the tourist ferry, meaning that it’s an idyllic place to anchor for a heavenly day of snorkelling, hiking, and lazing about on the beach.
Another excellent beach is Plage d’Argent, with its arc of soft silvery sand and crystal clear water.
There’s also a lively beach restaurant overlooking the sea where you can feast on fresh-grilled seafood on the deck, enjoying the afternoon breeze off the water and looking out to your yacht at anchor.
Porquerolles Island, French Riviera
Croisette Beaches, Cannes
Cannes is lined with beaches, both public and private, but the real luxury experience is to be found at the upscale beach clubs along the Croisette, Cannes’ beautiful seaside boulevard. There are around 20 private beach clubs along this famous stretch of sand, including superyacht favourites, Z- Plage and Baoli Beach.
La Croisette, Cannes
Grab a deckchair, order a cocktail from one of the unusually good-looking wait staff, and dive off the pontoon into the sparkling sea.
There are also plenty of watersports on offer along the Cannes Croisette, as well as great restaurants and indulgent beach massages.
With music playing and views of the Cannes Islands, palm trees, and grand art deco hotels, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for a beach club day in Cannes.
St Marguerite, Cannes Islands
St Marguerite does have one sandy beach near the ferry dock, but it’s the tiny little rock coves all around the island that make this island something rather special. The island is heavily forested, and it’s a delight to wander around the paths that lead around the shore, looking for a secluded little beach to throw down your towel and perhaps set up a picnic hamper prepared by your yacht’s private chef.
|The coves often have shade from the trees, and the water is deliciously clear with plenty of snorkelling opportunities.
If you haven’t organised a picnic and find yourself with a hunger or thirst, no matter—just swim out to one of the little boats that make their way around the island selling pizza and ice-creams, beer and wine.
There’s also the nearby Fort Royale and Ocean Museum to explore, as well as a birdwatching lagoon and sculptures hidden in the trees.
Sainte Marguerite Island
Plage de la Garoupe, Cap d’Antibes
Cap d’Antibes is a very exclusive headland known for its grand villas and upscale hotels among the pines. There are many rocky coves and bathing platforms around the Cap d’Antibes, but the finest beach by a country mile is the Plage de la Garoupe, which offers deep, soft white sand and a few beach clubs, including the excellent Plage Keller with its signature yellow umbrellas.
Plage de la Garoupe, Cap d'Antibes, Côte d'Azur.
Plage de la Garoupe is small but perfectly formed, with an outlook across the Bay of Angels to the Alps in the distance. It’s also the starting point of an outstanding coastal path around to the Bay of Millionaires, or you can snorkel, kayak and paddleboard around the headland.
Paloma Beach, Cap Ferrat
Plage Paloma is named after Picasso’s daughter, who he used to bring here on long summer days. You can see why an artist appreciated this heartbreakingly pretty beach, nestled on the northern side of the prestigious Cap Ferrat peninsula. It’s a splendid place, where opulent villas and bougainvillea hide under the umbrella pines, and the blue-green sea glitters under a cloudless sky.
The beach is pebbled, but you’ll love it no less for that, and the view is magnificent, as you look across the water to cliffs and mountains and admire the yachts gathered at anchor.
Paloma’s greatest drawcard, however, is the Paloma Beach Club, a family-run establishment that has been serving the elite of the French Riviera since 1948.
It manages to be both casual and utterly glamorous, with a roll call of celebrity visitors straight out of a Who’s Who magazine.
Take a table on the smooth pebbles and enjoy a lunch in a setting straight out of a dream.
Paloma Beach is the French Riviera, or at least a memory of what it was in simpler times.
On the left side: Paloma Beach, Cap Ferrat (Côte d'Azur).
Plage Mala, Cap d’Ail
Perhaps the most dramatically beautiful of all the Riviera beaches, this half sand, half pebble beauty is framed by high, rugged cliffs and fragrant forest of palm trees and pine. With deliciously clear, sunlit waters that shift from sapphire to turquoise to deep navy, this is a picture-perfect place to spend a day that you’ll never forget.
As you might expect on a glorious beach in the South of France, there are two private beach clubs taking up much of the beach real estate.
Eden Plage and La Reserve de la Mala are both exquisite spots to pass the time, whether lazing on a deckchair with a magnum of rose, or dining on a shady terrace by the sea.
Plage Mala is sheer bliss, a little haven away from the world.
There are many more wonderful beaches to drop anchor at on your South of France yacht charter..
Plage Mala, Cap d'Ail, Côte d'Azur.
For assistance in planning you French Riviera yacht charter, contact the Cote d’Azur yachting specialists at Bespoke Yacht Charter.