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12 Most Beautiful Beaches in the South of France

French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is an iconic beach destination. For centuries it beaconed beauty-searching travelers with its pure Mediterranean allure, crystalline waters, and lush vegetation. There’s an impressive natural diversity here too. You can choose among the long paradise-looking sandy stretches, glamorous beach clubs, epic calanques, vibrant city beaches, hidden coves, and island coastlines. No matter how many times I come back, there’s always a beach to discover. Here’s a collection of the most beautiful beaches in the South of France that will make any beachgoer’s heart beat faster.

Best for Raw Beauty: Calanque de Port Pin - Marseille
Best for Urban Seaside Glamour: La Croisette Beach - Cannes
Best for Under-the-Radar Beauty: Plage Notre-Dame - Îles d'Hyères
Best for Accessible Panoramas: Calanque de Figuerolles - La Ciotat
Best for Lounging on the Sand: Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez
Best for Admiring the Views: Sablettes Beach - Menton
Best for Stunning Panoramas: Mala Beach - Cap d'Ail
Best for Epic Vistas: Cabasson Beach - Bormes-les-Mimosas
Best for History Buffs: Débarquement Beach - Saint-Raphaël
Best for Active Enjoyment: Calanque d'En-Vau - Cassis
Best for Scenic City Bathing: Ponchettes Beach - Nice
Best for Unforgettable Sunsets: L'Espiguette Beach - Le Grau-du-Roi

Best for Raw Beauty

Calanque de Port Pin - Marseille Calanque De Port Pin
Credit: Calanque De Port Pin by © Janoka82 | Dreamstime.com

Calanque de Port Pin - Marseille

Having a dip in a calanque is a must when you’re in France’s South. These craggy inlets with blue waters and pine forests are among the most beloved symbols of this part of the country. Calanque de Port Pin would be great for your first calanque experience. It’s the Mediterranean as it once was, the beach is strikingly beautiful. Have a swim, snorkel, try the SUP, or simply admire the natural grandeur. It can only be reached by hiking – the walk from the parking will take you roughly 40 minutes.

Best for Urban Seaside Glamour

La Croisette Beach - Cannes La Croisette Beach - Cannes
Credit: La Croisette Beach - Cannes by Alexis AMZ DA CRUZ via Unsplash.com

La Croisette Beach - Cannes

The panorama of the luxurious boardwalk of one of the capitals of cinema in Europe places La Croisette among the most beautiful beaches in the South of France. If you’re an urban animal and love to quickly transfer from your hotel bed to the sunbed, that’s a perfect choice. La Croisette is comprised of several beaches. You’ve got the large sandy Plage Macé which is a public one with modest prices for loungers and umbrellas. And then there is a plethora of private beach clubs with fine dining restaurants, swanky cocktail bars, and DJ evenings where celebrities, millionaires, and socialites play under the summer sun.

Best for Under-the-Radar Beauty

Plage Notre-Dame - Îles d'Hyères Plage Notre-Dame - Îles d'Hyères
Credit: Plage Notre-Dame - Îles d'Hyères by Cecile Petit via Wikimedia Commons

Plage Notre-Dame - Îles d'Hyères

The cracking sound of cicadas, the interplay of shades of turquoise in the water, and the feeling of levity in the air. Welcome to Plage Notre-Dame, which is among the most beautiful beaches in the South of France. It is located on the picturesque Porquerolles island and is easily reached by a regular ferry from Tour Fondue on the mainland. It’s a remote beach with a mix of sand and pebbles accessible by the Piste de Notre Dame hiking trek from Porquerolles village. 

Best for Accessible Panoramas

Calanque de Figuerolles - La Ciotat Calanque de Figuerolles - La Ciotat
Credit: Calanque de Figuerolles - La Ciotat by Tobi 87 via Wikimedia Commons

Calanque de Figuerolles - La Ciotat

For a calanque experience without lengthy trekking, head to Figuerolles. Here the access is very straightforward, park a car nearby and reach the beach in several minutes. Calanque de Figuerolles is truly spectacular, a masterpiece of nature where brown cliffs pierce into the turquoise sea. It’s a pebble beach, so keep that in mind. There’s a restaurant nearby for a quick bite with a view. Also, you’ve got the awe-inspiring Parc du Mugel close by, with a rich collection of plants, breathtaking cliff panoramas, and boat tours. 

Best for Lounging on the Sand

Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez
Credit: Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez by Valentin B. Kremer via Unsplash.com

Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez

You can’t go wrong with Pampelonne – it’s a classic of the French Riviera and the favorite stretch for locals and visitors of Saint-Tropez. White sand feels perfect for your feet, the waters have a bright blue color, and the beach bars add a glamorous edge to the experience. As an icon of Cote d’Azur, it draws crowds in the summer, but the vast territory allows everyone to find their place under the sun and enjoy a wide choice of restaurants and bars in the process. 

Best for Admiring the Views

Sablettes Beach - Menton Sablettes Beach - Menton
Credit: Sablettes Beach - Menton by Norbert Széplaki via Unsplash.com

Sablettes Beach - Menton

If you like yourself a beach with a view, Sablettes fits the description. You will sunbathe and swim with a towering silhouette of cascading historic core of one of the most beautiful towns in France on one hand and the rocky foothills of Alpes on the other. Italy is nearby – you can even go in and return on foot. Sablettes is a sandy beach with calm waters that feels very inspirational and scenic.

Best for Stunning Panoramas

Mala Beach - Cap d'Ail Mala Beach - Cap d'Ail
Credit: Mala Beach - Cap d'Ail by © VVShots | Dreamstime.com

Mala Beach - Cap d'Ail

This one is of breathtaking variety. It takes some effort to reach – you have to follow steep steps and hike a bit. But the panorama is worth it. A gigantic rocky limestone cliff pierces into the azure Mediterranean Sea waters and the pebble Mala is found at the meeting point. It’s somewhat an open secret of Cap d’Ail where you can have some tranquility but also drinks at the beach clubs and French meals at the restaurant. 

Best for Epic Vistas

Cabasson Beach - Bormes-les-Mimosas Cabasson Beach - Bormes-les-Mimosas
Credit: Cabasson Beach - Bormes-les-Mimosas by Jeanne Menjoulet via Flickr.com

Cabasson Beach - Bormes-les-Mimosas

Cabasson Beach would be just another stunning French Riviera sleepy beach if not one thing. It has a spectacular vista of Fort de Brégançon, an official residence of the French President. This makes it one of the most beautiful beaches in the South of France. While in Bormes-les-Mimosas, part of the Cote d’Azur, be sure to tour other fantastic beaches located nearby, like Estagnol and Pellegrin. 

Best for History Buffs

Débarquement Beach - Saint-Raphaël Débarquement Beach - Saint-Raphaël
Credit: Débarquement Beach - Saint-Raphaël by Mark Grant-Jones via Flickr.com

Débarquement Beach - Saint-Raphaël

Combine historical sightseeing with beach leisure at Plage du Débarquement. This part of the French coast was used for the landing operations of the Allies in 1944 at the height of WW2. But it’s not only the war history – the beach is simply stunning in its own right. The rocky surface is hugged by the blue waves overlooking a picturesque red-ochre-colored L’Île d’Or islet. 

Best for Active Enjoyment

Calanque d'En-Vau - Cassis Calanque d'En-Vau - Cassis
Credit: Calanque d'En-Vau - Cassis by Thomas Aubaud via Unsplash.com

Calanque d'En-Vau - Cassis

Visiting Calanque d’En-Vau is not your regular relaxing beach experience. It’s a mini-adventure with an hour-and-a-half hike, a steep descent, and incredible panoramas throughout. But once you’re there, all the effort is justified – it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the South of France with the water that is bluest of the blue. Wear comfortable shoes, grab some food and drinks, and come early, as the place may get crowded during the day. The start of the hike is in Cassis, and you can also kayak there from the town, check out the local rental services.

Best for Scenic City Bathing

Ponchettes Beach - Nice Ponchettes Beach - Nice
Credit: Ponchettes Beach - Nice by Oscar Nord via Unsplash.com

Ponchettes Beach - Nice

Few cities in the world have such striking coastlines as Nice. Ponchettes Beach is the culmination of the Mediterranean beauty of this Southern city. Borded by the long and wide Promenade des Angles, located right next to the picturesque Old Town and overlooking the dominant Castle Hill – this beach is a must-visit. What will be sure to surprise you is the color of the water. Although a public beach of the fifth-largest city in France, Ponchettes is extremely clean, and the sea is always azure. Also, the sunsets look gorgeous from here.

Best for Unforgettable Sunsets

L'Espiguette Beach - Le Grau-du-Roi L'Espiguette Beach - Le Grau-du-Roi
Credit: L'Espiguette Beach - Le Grau-du-Roi by guah via Flickr.com

L'Espiguette Beach - Le Grau-du-Roi

A different kind of Southern France beach, you’ve got vast, impressive dunes as far as the eyes can see in L’Espiguette. Close to the Mediterranean resort town of Le Grau-du-Roi, favored by Hemingway and a part of the expansive Camargue National Park, this beach will be perfect for enthusiasts of wild and undeveloped stretches. With 11 miles of area, you’re sure to find your snug spot on the sand and watch the waves, greet sunsets, and have picnics.

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