The French Riviera is known for its beaches and the shimmering blue waves that lap at the edge of the shore. But if you want to know about French Riviera beaches, it pays to do your research ahead of time!
There’s a wide spectrum of beaches in the Cote d’Azur - from luxurious private beaches to public beaches. There are French Riviera beaches that cater to families, nude (or naturalist) beaches, gay beaches, topless beaches and the list goes on and on. Further, it pays to know the area in which you will be staying. For example, the beaches of Nice, France are known for their rocky pebbles, while the sands of the Saint-Tropez Peninsula are widely known for their soft sand.
It’s well worth knowing your plage (or beach) before heading out!
Generally speaking, you will pay an average of around $25 or $30 to use a private beach in the French Riviera. With that fee comes hot showers, the use of a chaise lounge chair, a mattress and an umbrella. Many of the private beaches are held by hotels perched upon the coastline. Guests of the hotels usually get a discounted price on admission to the private beach. People who are not staying at the hotel can also usually use the private beach facilities, but they will have to pay more for the luxury.
Many of the hotels offer food services, restaurants and beverages for an extra fee.
Some of the most well-known private beaches in the French Riviera are in Cannes, France and Saint-Tropez. In St. Tropez, the most well-known are Nikki Beach and La Voile Rouge. At this hot-spots you'll often find the glitterati and champagne showers on a regular basis. This is where A-listers go to party, including the likes of Paris Hilton and a variety of other celebrities.
You’ll see a variety of what’s acceptable at various French Riviera beaches when it comes to clothing and nudity. The attitudes of the French are far different from those in the United States. So, you are likely to see more skin there than you would at a beach in the states. The best rule of thumb is to play it cool and avoid gawking. You won’t need anybody to draw you a map to know what’s acceptable at each beach. You’ll know when you see it!
While it may be anything goes at some beaches, when you go to restaurants, bars and the like at the beaches - it is expected that you will cover up and show some more modesty.
At most private beaches in the French Riviera you want to get there early. You may find some jockeying going on to secure the best spot. When you see images of colorful umbrellas all lined in a row on a beach in the Cote d’Azur, you can be assured that those are private beaches.
You also can find French Riviera public beaches across the coast. The main difference is that they are, of course, open to the public and free. Many of the public beaches also offer showers, but they are unheated. You will also find bathrooms, but their quality may be a bit questionable. Expect long lines and throngs of tourists - depending upon the season. There are public beaches in Antibes, France that are considered quite family friendly. The beaches here are a bit more sheltered - making them good for kids to swim. They can get crowded.
Cannes, France is known for its private beach affairs, but there are also public beaches here just off La Croisette. You’ll also see lots of nearby cafes and bars.
Nice, France has public beaches. The beaches in Nice are known for being lined with pebbles not soft sand. Most people use blow-up mattresses here or chairs to avoid the discomfort of the hard stones.