The first lesson for finding the best beaches in France? Don’t assume they’re all on the Riviera. This world-renowned stretch of coast boasts some spectacular beaches. However, don’t overlook other areas along the Normandy shore or the Bay of Biscay when looking for a French summer vacation.
Here are the 18 best beaches in France, from historical landmarks and hidden islands to Europe’s playgrounds.
The pebble beach of Étretat is located on the Alabaster Coast of France and is popular among boaters and surfers. However, most people visit this stretch of coast in Upper Normandy for one purpose: to see the blown-out houses.
The famous chalk cliffs and arched rock formations are just a few of the spectacular sights. You’ll discover natural sculptures that have inspired people and artists for centuries. Most notably Claude Monet.
Palombaggia Beach, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
The island of Corsica, which lies between France and Italy, feels like it belongs to two nations at the same time.
At Palombaggia Beach, on the southern coast of Corsica facing Italy and the Tyrrhenian Sea, expect clear water; pink-tinted sand with no rocks; and moderate evening winds. It’s not surprising that Palombaggia is one of the best beaches in France.
Antibes, French Riviera
Antibes is located approximately halfway between Cannes and Nice. It has a peninsula that protrudes into the sea, maximizing the amount of warm, sandy, easy-to-walk-on beachfront accessible.
If you can swing it, reserve a suite at Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc for a taste of impossibly luxurious (and expensive) Riviera grandeur.
Paloma Beach, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, located near Nice, is a playground for European aristocracy. It boasts a Rothschild estate with gardens and a beach named after Paloma Picasso, the painter Pablo’s daughter.
Porquerolles Island, Hyères
Despite its close proximity to the French coast, the Île de Porquerolles feels a long way away. The entire island is automobile-free, giving all of its beaches a laid-back, carefree feel—erfect for taking a picnic and riding a bike.
Cap Coz, Brittany
Cap Coz is an important stop on any Brittany itinerary, with a string of small beaches that are seldom crowded.
On the south of the port and extending further along the Breton coast, a wide sandy beach is ideal for both adults and children. The rocky coastline, complete with sheltered bays perfect for afternoon dips, may be seen easily as you walk along the peninsula’s hiking trail along the Bretern Riviera.
Les Calanques de Cassis, Provence
The lanques, which are long, thin inlets lined with natural rocks like limestone, are among the most beautiful examples along the Mediterranean and match the. brilliant teal water.
This beach is more well-known for its sightseeing than its swimming. There are few places on earth where you can see such magnificent rock formations.
Plage de la Côte des Basques, Biarritz
The wild beaches of Biarritz, in Basque country along the Bay of Biscay, are also highly popular with surfers owing to their calm, safe-for-beginners waves.
Deauville Beach, Normandy
Deauville’s status as a fashion hotspot was solidified by none other than Coco Chanel, who established her first boutique here in 1913.
After fashioning her own line of swimwear, she was quickly discovered by publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair. Her stunning beach-chic wardrobe put not just herself but also the charming boardwalk lined with interesting boutiques and ice cream vendors on the map.
La Graviere, Hossegor
The site of La Gavière is one of the most popular and revered surfing spots in Europe. This hollow beach break is known for fast tubes, broken boards, pro surfing tournaments, and surf experts.
In total Hossegor has a 225-kilometer stretch of golden sand from the mouth of the Gironde in the north to Anglet in the south. The part of south-west France is truly beautiful and rugged, offering some spectacular sunsets.
Prado Beaches, Marseille
If you want to include a city vacation with your beach break, visit Marseille. You can then spend a day at any of the Prado Beaches.
There are three beaches located close to the city center that are perfect for families with kids. Keep an eye out for a replica of Michelangelo’s David, which is a popular photo spot.
Côte de Granit Rose, Brittany
The Côte de Granit Rose is a stretch of coastline studded with beautiful granite rock formations. It is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous places in northwestern Brittany.
The scenery is spectacular, with massive rose gold boulders standing next to eroded pink sand, all set against the gray foam of the sea. This unequivocally makes it one of the best beaches in France.
Donnant Bch, Belle-Île-en-Mer
Belle-Île-en-Mer’s wild and craggy shoreline is more than worth the 30-minute crossing from Quiberon. This was one of Claude Monet’s favorite destinations.
Take a stroll around this little seaside hamlet, which has all the essentials for an enjoyable day out. After dining on steamed mussels and white wine in town, go to Plage Donnant.
This beach is fronted with cliffs and dunes and had tidal pools to explore at low tide. Before the secret is revealed, make a beeline for this place. It’s arguably one of the best beaches in France.
Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
The rocky island of Mont Saint-Michel lifts above the sand bars and tidal pools like a mirage. It is easily one of France’s most distinctive landmarks.
While the magnificent Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel receives most of the attention, the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel around it is just as lovely.
It has a plethora of incredible sea animals and one of the highest tides in Europe. Take a guided walk a-cross the bay, where you can walk on those famous pools and stretch of sand in your bare feet.
Port-Cros is a paradise for yacht owners, hippie sunbathers, and divers, all of whom may enjoy the island’s first maritime national park in Europe. September is the best month to visit because of the favorable weather and water conditions.
Pampelonne Beach, St.Tropez
The name St. Tropez evokes opulence and radiance. However, you don’t need to be dressed to the nines to feel welcome there. Pampelonne Beach is the ideal location for an afternoon swim. There are plenty of five-star resort hotels as well as a remote stretch where naturists are welcome.
Île de Ré, Bay of Biscayhe “White Island” on the Western Coast of France in the Bay of Biscay is called Île de Ré to locals because of its light sand and lovely seaside homes painted in neutral hues.
Long, flat stretches of beach are available, but be aware for a recently abandoned German bunker from WWII.
On the outskirts of Montpellier, on a tiny peninsula about four kilometers from the city center, is Palavas-les-Flots, which is so popular with the French that it has its own song in The Triplets of Belleville.
Palavas-les-Flots is a great location to rent a kayak, enroll in sailing lessons, or give kitesurfing a go.