French Riviera Beaches

French Riviera has a mixture of public or private beaches, sandy beaches, rocky coves and pebble beaches so there really is something for everyone.

As well as a huge variety of beaches to suit all ages and preferences, there’s a few helpful tips I can share that may help you on your next visit.

The Côte d’Azur is known for sunny days and a rather glam image of sun loungers, crisp glasses of beachside rosé and long lunches.  This is partially true as not everyone can spend 2 weeks hiring beach loungers and drinking Champagne in St Tropez!

Pampelonne’s beach clubs are changing from 2019 onwards (pic: Shutterstock)

Municipal beaches

For visitors to the French Riviera, one of the best tips I can share is to look for ‘plages en régie communale’ (or municipale).  These are beaches managed by the town that offer equipment for rent at reduced prices than what the private beaches offer; the downside is you won’t have access to that wonderful beach service where a server brings you food and ice cold buckets of drinks  🙂

In Cannes, Plage Zamenhoff on the Croisette is a municipal beach.  It’s located next to the Square du Mai 1945 park at the Port Canto end of Cannes.

You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and of course there are lifeguards (from 01 Jul-31 Aug) a first aid post, lockers, shower and toilet facilities.  BYO Sandwiches and non-alcoholic drinks are accepted.

© Radio France – Laurent Vareille

Hours:  Saturday 15 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 6.30pm.

Price:  A full day chair rental is €8.

Also in Cannes, Plage Macé is a public beach and situated right near the Palais des Festivals.  There are public toilets nearby as well as plenty of snack kiosks and food options.

Plage Richelieu in Juan les Pins is one of the municipal beaches in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  This sandy beach is accessed via the Pinède Gould (where the Jazz à Juan Festival is held), on the end of Juan les Pins closest to the Provençal and Hotel Belles Rives.  

The water is relatively shallow so fine for families with kids (the bonus is the local playground is just across the road) and nearby are hire options for water sports. 

Plage Richelieu has 118 loungers for hire, plus there are 6 loungers reserved for people with disabilities and their accompanying carer.

Tip:  Look for the yellow and green sign, and the blue and white beach umbrellas.

On the Cap d’Antibes, La Garoupe is the other municipal beach in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  A lovely setting for a day at the beach, this small beach area is a great place and the coastal walkway is fantastic.

There are a few great beach restaurants here including the popular spots Plage Keller and Plage Joseph, plus Le Rocher snack kiosk is right by the loungers.  There are 78 loungers for rent, plus 3 for people with disabilities and their carer.

Plage La Garoupe has loungers for rent for €11 per day.

Hours for both beaches:  Saturday 01 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm

Price:  €10 for walk-ups / €11 pre-booked online.  There is a limit of 2 loungers per online booking.

For these two beaches, you can just arrive on the day and try your luck with the sun loungers though be warned that it is very busy in summer and they only allocate a limited number of loungers for walk-up customers, plus the locals are there early!

It’s best to pay in advance and reserve your loungers for these 2 public beaches on the Antibes Juan les Pins tourism website. Note:  You can’t reserve the loungers online for people with mobility problems.  For all other loungers, I’ve included the link to book because it’s not particularly clear to tourists how to do it.  Go to https://ticketing.antibesjuanlespins.com/ and click on ‘Plages en Regie’ and follow the instructions.

Beach updates

Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan:  You may notice there is a fresh crop of new beach restaurants which came about from a law regulation for zoning of public beaches.  I’m yet to try them all out, so feel free to comment if you have any you recommend!   Sadly, some of the older establishments have been demolished such as Moorea and Tetou.

Monaco:  Visitors to Monaco usually stop by Plage Larvotto at some stage.  However, from October 2019 until June 2021, Larvotto beach will be closed for a multi-million euro redevelopment which will include new shaded areas, a bike pathway to the new Anse du Portier district and a children’s playground.  Larvotto beach will temporarily open in summer next year (July and August 2020) with restaurants and shops set to reopen in 2021.

Saint-Tropez : The infamous beach scene at Pampelonne has also been reworked this summer. There are now 23 beach clubs (previously 27) with 5 new ones opening.  All 23 clubs have to be collapsible set-ups; so think those flat-pack, IKEA-style designs to meet the coastal laws.

The concessions extend to 2030 therefore the new clubs have a commitment to stay.  Gone will be some historic spots – Key West, Bagatelle, Plage les Jumeaux (sad for families!), Eden Plage, Pago Pago, Manoah, Shellona, Maison Bianca and Tabou.

Three of the new beach clubs are run by upmarket hotels La Reserve, Byblos and Hotel de Paris, one is run by Christopher Artis and the other is Loulou Beach (a collaboration between the owners of Hotel Ermitage and Loulou restaurant in Paris).  This map below from St Tropez House shows the line-up:


Looking for more information about French Riviera beaches?  Take a look at some of these resources below:

 

 

 

Anjuna Beach at Eze

 

  • Crab in the Air travel blog includes their pick of 7 top French Riviera beaches which has a mix of busy spots such as Larvotto in Monaco and off-the-tourist track locations such as the Esterel beach.

 

  • For information about accessible beaches on the French Riviera and throughout France, refer to the Handiplage site.   Plage Salis and Plage le Ponteil in Antibes have onsite staff in summer months to assist people with motor, visual, intellectual or auditory problems.  There are accessible toilets, showers and adapted equipment for water access.  Plage le Ponteil also offers a transmitting bracelet for beach goers with hearing difficulties.

 

  • Plages.tv is one of my favourite resources to find out more about beaches in France including the Alpes-Maritimes region – the site has useful advice such as photos, maps, parking, recreation, facilities.   Visit their website here:  Plages.tv

What do you think of these beach suggestions?  What is your favourite beach on the French Riviera and why? 

 

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How to survive summer on the French Riviera with kids

Say what you will about the French Riviera in the summer. Sure, there are traffic jams, crowded public transport, longer queues at attractions, sweatier tourists, and pricier airfares, but there’s also ice-cream on the seafront, dining al fresco in village squares, open-air concerts and firework displays in the warm evenings, and most important, no school for eight weeks.

If you are visiting the French Riviera with children, it’s a great time to bond as a family and experience first-hand history, art, traditional festivals and nature; and develop a real appreciation for French culture.

However, travelling with children is a whole different ballgame to travelling solo or as a couple and it’s vital to plan ahead so your Riviera trip is more incroyable than catastrophe.

How to survive summer on the French Riviera with kids

How to survive summer on the French Riviera with kids

Here are Access Riviera’s tips for how to survive summer on the French Riviera with kids:

Make the journey fun

For flights, I print out a map of the world and put stickers on from the origin to destination and little ones can follow the flight path and circle each ‘stopover’ when you arrive – it builds anticipation and if they have their own ‘map’ they feel involved in the process.

Keep any train or bus tickets for their ‘travel bag’ so you can invent games later on.

iSpy sheets are good for killing time – here are few free downloads I made for my eldest son when he was aged around 2 years and they helped keep him occupied when we had to travel, visit busy supermarkets etc.  They are customised for things you are likely to see while travelling in France and FREE!  You can download them here: iSpy  iSpysupermarket  iSpynature

A great family-friendly destination

The French Riviera is an excellent family-friendly destination, and while it’s easy to blow your budget at theme parks and attractions, it is also a viable destination on a small budget.

Plan outings at the beach, evening strolls around hilltop villages when many of the historical buildings are lit up and look spectacular, and mix up the transport you use if you can – trains, buses, ferries, petit train (the little tourist trains) may seem boring to you but kids love transport!.

Le petit train can be great for kids (image: trainstouristiquedenice)

Le petit train can be great for kids (image: trainstouristiquedenice)

There are some excellent national parks in the region that are perfect for biking and hiking, and you can find an overview of many of the Riviera’s playgrounds here Playgrounds on the French Riviera.

Bear in mind the length of guided tours especially in summer as little ones can get hot and bored quickly.

Visit websites such as http://www.cotedazur-en-fetes.com/ for information and dates of local events.

Don’t cram too much into one day

Consider your child/children’s normal routine and try to stick to similar times for meals, naps, bedtime.

It can be hard with many summer events on the French Riviera starting late in the evening so choose one or two events where you can stretch to a late night, but don’t try to cram too much into one day or you’ll find you’re left with overtired and grumpy kids which will quickly make your holiday stressful.

Research family discounts

Tourist offices are a wealth of knowledge and can advise about entry discounts for groups or families.

Search on the internet and social media for family passes, ‘2-for-1’ deals or last-minute specials.

Here are 5 useful links for French Riviera family discounts:

  1. Family discounts for TER trains: http://www.sncf.com/en/discounts/family-children and http://www.ter.sncf.com/paca/loisirs/promos-bons-plans
  2. Regional discounts with Lignes D’Azur buses where you can use your bus ticket to get discounts across the French Riviera http://www.lignesdazur.com/presentation/?rub_code=1010
  3. Cote d’Azur Card – includes sightseeing, activities, shopping discounts. Available in 3 or 6-day validities. Generally, you will get value out of this card if you use it at least once a day. https://www.cotedazur-card.com/
(image: cotedazurcard)

(image: cotedazurcard)

  4. Groupon – web-based discount site for accommodation and activities. Site is in French; you will need to search ‘France’ then ‘Sud-Est & Corse’ to find discounts applicable for the French Riviera. www.groupon.fr

5.  La Fourchette – Dining discounts; site is in French. Search by town/city, e.g. Nice, Cannes, Antibes. They often have specials such as ‘20% off your total bill’, ‘Buy 1 main meal, get one free’ or ‘Kids dine free’ so it pays to have a quick look before you eat out on the French Riviera. www.lafourchette.com

Teach your kids basic French

Kids learn languages much easier than adults. Teach your child a few basic French phrases – it’s amazing how responsive wait staff or shop assistants are to a small child saying ‘Merci’.

We love the free French lessons at Monde des Titounis in our house as they are short duration and fun (it’s aimed at preschool kids with animated vocabulary lessons).

Make use of Google Translate and apps such as Duolingo.

Be flexible about meal choices

France is not particularly well known for specific children’s menus – you will see A LOT of frites (French fries), basic pasta and chicken nuggets on kids menus here.

Many restaurants will however split menu costs from the a la carte menu for a smaller portion size so don’t hesitate to ask, and it pays to take along a few snacks to restaurants in case your child completely turns their nose up at what is on offer.

Also, a trip to the French Riviera is an opportunity to try new foods that they may not be familiar with – I know 3-year olds who love escargot cooked in butter and garlic, marinated artichokes and steak tartare so try to be flexible about what is on offer and what they are used to at home.

Escargot anyone?

Escargot anyone?

For vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free travellers and people with food allergies or intolerances you may find dining in France is a bit trickier but do some research online first and you’ll find plenty of other travellers who have ‘been done and done that’ so are more than happy to recommend restaurants.

Consider your accommodation carefully

Holiday rentals are ideal for families travelling with small children, because you can cook some of your own meals and unpack and spread out. Most holiday rentals on the French Riviera have excellent proximity to beaches or towns so you are never far away from supermarkets and essential shops.

French campsites are generally in scenic locations and have good facilities such as swimming pools, games rooms, restaurants though try to book ahead especially in peak season.

French campsites usually have good facilities (image: Camping Green Park, Cagnes sur Mer)

French campsites usually have good facilities (image: Camping Green Park, Cagnes sur Mer)

Also, explore the idea of staying in themed accommodation that will intrigue little ones – you can stay in a yurt (Mongolian tent), treehouse, tepee, castle, restored chapel or old mill so think outside the box if your budget and patience for research allows it.

Stay safe

Sometimes travel can make you complacent about basic safety. Ensure your holiday accommodation is safe for your family (e.g. cleaning chemicals locked away, electrical cables out of reach of little fingers, smoke alarms installed etc) and don’t hesitate to ask the landlord in advance what safety precautions they have in place for families.

It can be extremely tempting to leave doors and windows open all night at your hotel/B&B/apartment/villa but exercise caution as burglars do prey on the fact there is warm weather and they are experts and can be in and out before you blink (and sometimes even striking when you are on site!).

The French Riviera climate can be scorching in summer, so drink plenty of water and always wear sun cream and a hat. Occasionally, jellyfish are present on the beaches here and it takes 2-minutes to check local jellyfish reports, more details can be found here Jellyfish on the French Riviera

I morally ummed and ahhed about including this next piece of advice, and while I think every tourist office along the Riviera coast (and certainly every town mayor) would state otherwise, I believe it’s important to honestly inform tourists of potential hazards or dangers.

As with every destination, there are some undesirable people you’ll come across on your travels and the French Riviera is no exception. Don’t be surprised to see homeless people, tramps and gypsies especially at areas of high pedestrian traffic and where money is transacted frequently (they sit outside supermarkets, beside ATM machines, outside banks, at bus terminals etc).

I’ll put it out there and state that 9 out of 10 times homeless people and drunks here on the Riviera are harmless – unlike experiences in other countries, here in France they usually do not verbally abuse you if you don’t give them money or follow you down the street. However, exercise caution in all circumstances.

Families should be cautious around gypsies as they are renown for pickpocketing people with baby strollers and/or lots of luggage – be extra alert if you travel on the train or bus as families often stand in the doorways (as it’s convenient for getting your stroller on/off) and this is when many pickpocketing incidents happen at the stops when the change of people getting on and off the train/bus creates a diversion.

Encourage your child to collect souvenirs

Finding inexpensive souvenirs can be fun when you’re travelling – encourage your child to find souvenirs when you’re visiting towns and cities. Some popular souvenirs for the French Riviera are postcards, pretty soaps, keyrings, santons.

Visiting a vide grenier (car boot sale/flea market) or local antiques market can unearth some fantastic retro toys such as tin cars, comic books or vintage airplanes.

French markets are great for finding vintage toys

French markets are great for finding vintage toys

Diaries and photographs

Older children may enjoy keeping a travel diary and writing about highlights of their day, and you can always buy them a disposable camera or two so they can take their own pictures of the trip.

Allow your kids to enjoy the simple pleasures

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of having a full itinerary and seeing everything in a tourist hotspot, but you’ll find some of the best experiences will be when you slow down and go with the flow.

Stop for an ice cream or gelato. Grab some take-out pizza and sit on the beach watching the sunset. Let your kids play at the park, interacting with local children. Stroll along the harbourside quays and chat to the fishermen. Pause for a while to watch locals play petanque.

Stop to watch the locals play petanque (boules)

Stop to watch the locals play petanque (boules)

Most of all, enjoy your summer holiday on the French Riviera and spending time together.

Do you have other  family travel tips to share?  I’d love your feedback. Please share this post on Facebook or Twitter.