France has an enviable 3427 kilometers of coastline, dotted with scenic resorts and natural beauty. French beaches of the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea are listed among the top beaches in the world. They offer a range in their scene, from the rugged cliffs of the Normandy beaches to the long stretches of sand along the Brittany coast.
Top French Beaches
The best time to hit French beaches is in the summer, when the waters are warm and there is sun aplenty. The popular beaches of France are dotted along its four main coastlines, each offering something unique and exotic.
The French Riviera is located along the Mediterranean coastline and is known for its über-cool crowd. For those who seek glitz and glamor, this is the place to be. Besides its exotic waters, the French Riviera offers world-class resorts and the star-studded Cannes film festival.
St. Tropez is one of the jewels of the French Riviera, because the locals believe that its coastline shimmers like a pearl that's been dipped in gold. The beaches of St. Tropez are dotted with expensive yachts, five-star beach resorts, and the rich and famous, who flock here to rest, recuperate, and be seen. Besides sunbathing and swimming in its pristine waters, one can walk along its sandy beaches or enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine at one of the many outdoor cafés located on the beach.
Camargue is home to unique breeds of horses and bulls, and more than 400 species of birds, including the greater pink flamingo. It is located in the south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the protected area of the River Rhône delta. One-third of Camargue is either lakes or marshland full of rare and exotic flora and fauna. As this place is protected, its beaches are free from any boardwalk shops or hotels, and it is mostly meant for nature lovers, who want to enjoy its exceptional bio-diversity.
Although located close to St. Tropez, it is completely the opposite of its glamorous neighbor. Sainte-Maxime is for the world-weary traveler seeking an escape from the hustle-bustle of the world. One can just walk around its beautiful port or laze on the sand throughout the day without being disturbed. For those who want some action between the rest, there are plenty of watersport activities available. The beach resorts have many cafés and restaurants where one can enjoy the fine French cuisine.
This coastal city of the French Riviera has a stunning panoramic view of the city. Known for world famous festivals and expensive resorts, Cannes is for the rich and famous of the world. Its beaches are full of traditional as well as contemporary restaurants, where one can enjoy French food or simply shop in top designer boutiques.
The Normandy coast is located to the northeast of Paris, south of the English Channel between Brittany and Picardy. Its beaches are different from others, as they are wide and have many cliffs that drop dangerously into the ocean. Normandy can take one back in time. It is the place where Allied Troops landed on D-Day during World War II in France. The beaches enjoy a very short summer, so one needs to head there in time.
The waters of Omaha have a breathtaking background, flanked by steep dunes on the beach, that stretch seemingly for miles. The beach offers a peek into the Normandy landings, a couple of former gun placements, and some underground trenches for one to explore. There is an American cemetery located close-by and a monument has been built on one of the dunes in honor of the war heroes. This beach is clearly meant for history buffs.
Les Salines and Martinique
Les Salines Beach is a mile-long popular white sand beach lined with palm trees, and is located at the southern tip of Martinique, north of Granville. The beach is separated from the town by a large expanse of sand dunes. It is popular among families, as the water currents are calm and it also has a well-organized lifeguard system in place. While Martinique beach is less-developed, it is a popular place for spending an idyllic day swimming and sunbathing.
Home to the famous French spa perfume by Michel Germain Fragrances, Deauville beaches are popular for their colorful umbrellas and boardwalks of exotic wood. The beach clubs here offer waters ports like jet-skiing, windsurfing, speed sailing, catamarans, sea kayaking, body surfing, kite flying, sailing, etc. Not only can one enjoy its warm waters, but they can also enjoy the luxurious French spas, hotels, and cafés, all set on the beachfront.
The Brittany or Bretagne coast is the second most popular beach holiday destination in France. It is located in Northwestern France and lies between the English Channel in the north and the Atlantic ocean in the south. It is perhaps the only region in France that offers as many beer options on the menu as wine. The beaches vary from place to place, offering flat white sands to a rugged terrain full of cliffs.
Quiberon beaches are long, sandy, and with vast open expanses where one can enjoy plenty of sun and perhaps get a great tan. The Grande Plage beach is ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Towards the western side, the beaches are popular for water sports like surfing and sailing. For some dramatic change in the scenery, one must explore Kervihan, Kerné, and Kerniscop. All along the coastline, one can find shops and restaurants and enjoy eateries such as gaufre, crepe, candy shops selling salt water taffy, and other sweet beach treats.
La Baule's 8 km beach stretch has made it one of the most popular beach destinations in France, among locals as well as international tourists. The waters are warmed by the Gulf Stream and people flock to the Guerande peninsula every summer for sunbathing and getting that perfect tan. This beach is not for those who need some peace and quiet, as it is bustling with life. There are hotels, shops, and restaurants lined along it.
It was named "Beautiful Island" by Greek sailors years ago, a fact that has stood the test of time. Considered as the most beautiful beach in the whole of France, its coastline has jagged rocky cliffs and stunning white sand beaches. Its beauty has inspired many an artist to tell stories through their writings and paintings, of lost sailors in the harsh sea. One can indulge in the traditional Brittany cuisine of fresh seafood, crepes, cider, etc. The waters don't allow much swimming because of the cliffs, but a sunset at Belle-Ile can stir the soul.
The southern stretch of the Atlantic coast of France is famous for its sunny, sandy, and extensive beaches. Popularly known as the surfing capital of France, it is not very far from Spain.
Biarritz is extremely popular and rated as one of the best beaches of France. The combination of warm waters, soft sand, modern transport, and resort infrastructure have made it a must-visit on most tourist itineraries. It is just a few miles away from the borders of Spain and is famous for water surfing and sunbathing. One can find many casinos, waterfront shops, and restaurants along its coastline.
Cap Ferret is a peninsula located on France's western Atlantic coast and is surrounded by quiet fishing villages with small wooden houses. The calmness of this beach can soothe even the most tangled nerves, the waters are warm and ideal for lazing around. One can even indulge in surfing, fishing, or swimming. The restaurants and cafés along the beaches are known for their fresh fish and oyster delicacies.
Biscarrosse offers open natural landscapes like the blue lagoon lake, pine forests that run alongside the dunes, and fine sandy beaches. There are many water sports available for both the beach and the lake. Biscarrosse has a very vibrant nightlife, with its discos and casinos as well as festivals that are celebrated on the beach.
There are many beaches in France, each standing apart in its uniqueness. From the calm waters to the rugged cliffs, from the bustling beaches to the quiet ones, France's beaches offer everyone what they desire. The water currents of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic seem to be more inviting when they run along the French coast.