French beaches are among the most popular destinations in Europe. While most would argue that the best beaches in France are found along the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, along the southern coast of the country, there are other destinations in France that also boast interesting beaches, and these have their own attractions, from history to peace and quiet.
Most foreign tourists who visit the Normandy beaches do so to remember the tragic history that occurred here. The beaches where troops landed on D-day are among the most visited destinations in Normandy—places such as Omaha Beach and Juno Beach, which saw bloody and heroic battles between the Allied Forces and Hitler’s beleaguered army. In addition to the battleground beaches, there are many areas of beautiful coastline. Although most do not have the soft golden sand of the south of France, Normandy beaches are particularly picturesque because of the rocky cliffs that jut out of the water at popular beachside towns like Etretat, which features a famous stone arch that seems to rise out of the ocean.
St Tropez is one of the most popular resort towns on the French Riviera in the south of France. This resort town has some of the most crowded and most fashionable French beaches in the country. Concentrated at Pampelonne Bay, most of the beaches here belong to private beach clubs of varying degrees of raciness. The notorious Voile Rouge is one of the beach clubs known for its hedonism and intense partying, while Tahiti Beach is popular among people who prefer to bathe nude.
Nice is another popular destination on the Cote d’Azur. It is less of an intense party town than St Tropez, with a calmer atmosphere. Nevertheless, you’ll be soaking up the sun with the trend-setters of Europe, with pricey beach clubs and restaurants galore. There is a public beach if you’re not willing to pay the fee to rent a sun-lounger on a private beach for the day, though you will have to bring a beach mat or chair to protect you from the “galets,” the round stones that make up the beaches in Nice France.
Another hot spot on the French Riviera, Cannes is the definition of a European tourist town, with seas of sun umbrellas and loungers dotting the shoreline. Plage de la Croisette is the main beach stretching across the waterfront; you’ll have to pay to enter, but it is the widest and has the finest sand in the area. Plage du Midi is the public alternative, but it is quite a bit narrower than Plage de la Croisette.
This island off the southern coast of the country has some of the best beaches in France. The largest beach is Calvi Beach, which is a large and wide stretch of soft fine sand near Port Plaisance. However, Corsica also boasts some of the finest secluded beaches in France. You’ll have to hike to find them, but the views are worth it, with limestone cliffs reaching down to the azure Mediterranean waters, and ribbons of white powdery sand hidden between the cliffs.