The South of France has some of the best French beaches. Languedoc-roussillon alone has more than 40 of them flying the blue flag, the European award for clean bathing water. Following a summer spent visiting the coastline of Southern France, here is our insider's guide to the best South France beaches. Also featured here are some excellent South of France beaches along the Cote d'Azur coastline, such has Rayol Canadel-sur-mer and Tahiti beach near St Tropez or Theole-sur-mer near Cannes - all of which are certainly worth a visit. If you are coming to the South of France this summer, then this is our collection of the South of France best beaches to go to.
Situated in between Cap d'Agde and Valras Plage, this small bay has some of the warmest water, sheltered beaches, golden sands and accessibility of all the beaches in South France. You will of course find beaches with better facilities, but as an overall package, this beach to us tops them all.
Vias Plage, Best South France beach for further information.
Rochelonge plage, is in the centre of Cap d'Agde. It is our preferred choice out of the 3 beaches on the Cap. There is a nice beach side restaurant and bar and you get lovely sweeping views of the whole bay down to Narbonne plage
See Rochelongue Plage, Cap d'Agde beach for more details
Whilst La-grande Motte might not be everyone's cup of tea, with its pyramid hotels and modern housing suburbs, there is no denying that the beach at Point Zero is absolutely stunning. It is perfect for kids and adults alike. There is also plenty to do after the beach as well. You can take your pick of restaurants and bars along the front.
For more information on Point Zero beach and La Grande Motte click here Point Zero, South of France best beaches.
For me, it is a close run thing between Narbonne Plage and Gruissan Plage, but Gruissan just gets it by a nod because the town behind it is a far nicer place to walk around when you're looking for a break from the sun. All the beaches around this area of the coast are characterised by open, flat expanses of golden sand.
See Gruissan Plage, South France best beaches for further details
The wide open expanse of sand at Valras Plage comfortably accomodates large numbers of holiday makers, allowing you enough room to spread out and relax. There is also plenty to do after the beach with lots of restaurants, boutiques and ice cream stalls. During the summer there is also a childrens adventure park and fairground rides just by the harbour.
Visit Valras Plage, South of France beach for more information
Cap Ferrat is reportedly one of the richest areas of Europe. It rivals Monaco for more millionaires per hectare. Cap Ferrat first became the destination of the rich and famous just after the First World War. King Leopold II of Belgium, started the trend for building magnificent villas. The writer W. Somerset Maugham bought Villa Mauresque in 1928 and lived there before and after World War II. Current famous residents include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in Villa Maryland and musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Just below the classy village of Saint-jean you will find a tree lined stretch of sand with a shallow bay. The water is crystal clear and you can get a wonderful view of the palatial mansions by swimming out into the bay. The beach of Paloma Plage is popular with divers (on account of the clear water). The public stretch of beach at Paloma Plage can be found by heading towards Paloma point and walking down the short footpath to the beach.
The beach at Cannes tends to divide people into two camps. Some people love the feel of this beach right in the centre of glamorous Cannes, with its world famous film festival. Others complain about this crowded South France beach and the quality of the sand. To be honest I am in the latter category and would recommend you make the short drive round to Theoule-sur-mer (a lovely little coastal village). The long strip of golden sand to the north of Theoule-sur-mer is a quite calm, with a few bars and cafes around to give you respite from the sun.
The public beach at Cannes is situated near to the Palais des Festivals. Also look for signs to Plages du Midi and Plages de la Bocca on the western edges of the town. Yes you may get to see some of the 'beautiful people' wandering around the beach side promenade in central Cannes, but they are more likely to head for some of the private beaches owned by the hotels.
Like Cap Ferrat, Cap d'Antibes has had a long association with the rich and famous. Since 1870 the glamorous Hotel du Cap high up on the dense tree covered cliff has been one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Guests who have stayed there included Marlene Dietrich, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Winston Churchill. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton conducted an affair and honeymooned there. Pablo Picasso came to the town in 1946 and was invited to stay in the castle. During his six month stay, Picasso painted and started his fascination with ceramics and tapestries. When he departed Picasso left a number of his works for the municipality. The castle has since officially became the Picasso Museum. Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club has a palatial mansion in Cap d’Antibes
There are 48 beaches along the 25 km of coastline that surround Antibes and Juan les Pins. The main public beaches are La Salis, on the edge of Le Cap d'Antibes and Plage du Ponteil. But be warned, the public beaches are usually very crowded in the summer time. The bay of La Garoupe has some beautiful soft sand beaches and provides a magnificent view of Antibes. This is also a popular spot for snorkelers, attracted by the clear blue water. Classy (and expensive) beach clubs occupy most of the beach spaces, the coolest ones reportedly being Plage Keller and Plage Joseph.
Villefranche-sur-mer, is a picturesque old fishing village located just a few kilometres outside of Nice. Compared to other beaches surrounding Nice, the beaches at Villefranche-sur-mer are relatively quiet even in the summer months. Plage des Marinières is the main beach and is located at the north end of the bay. It stretches for 1 km under the track of the railway line linking Nice to Italy. The deep bay off Villefranche was exploited by the French and American navies for many yearsand is now a popular mooring point for cruise liners. The old town and the bay have been used as the setting for many famous films, including Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery, The Jewel of the Nile with Michael Douglas and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin. These South France beaches are popular with families and snorkelers (there are plenty of rocky inlets to explore). The beaches are lined with some nice cafes and shops. The Plage de la Darse beach, South France, is made up of sand and some pebbles and is located behind the main jetty of the harbour of La Darse.
Port Grimaud is located in between Saint-tropez and Sainte-maxime. This seaside town was created by architect François Spoerry in the 1960s and built out of the marshes of the bay of Saint Tropez. Built with small canals like Venice, the mainly traffic free town is popular with boat owners as most properties come with their own berth. The beach, located slightly away from town is one long stretch of golden sand. The sea is shallow and gently sloping, making it perfect for families. Windsurfing and kayak hire is also available. Port Grimaud beach does get quite busy during the high season, but it is probably one of the best beaches around St Tropez (the other notable beach being Tahiti beach on the other side of Saint Tropez - although be careful not to venture into the Naturist section).
Moving along the coast from St Tropez towards Toulon, Rayol Canadel-sur-mer is a small stretch of coastline, which rarely gets busy, even in August. This is the coolest beach in the area, and has a few great bars. Our kids loved going to this beach because there is a diving platform a little way out in the bay. The beach can be tricky to find and the best way to find Rayol Canadel-sur-mer, is by taking the track from the airstrip at nearby Cogolin, past the campsite and up over the hill. The views coming down the other side of the hill are magnificent.
Argeles sur Mer is situated on the top end of the Cote Vermeille, the only east facing coastline in France. As a result, the wide sandy beaches are wonderfully sun-drenched and are perfectly framed by the backdrop of the Pyrenees. Argeles sur mer has three beaches. Plage Nord and Plage des Pins are wide, sandy beaches with plenty of space. Le Racou, to the south is a neat little bay with amazingly blue water. This is where we always head because we like the mountain views to the back and it tends to be less crowded
Argeles-sur-mer grew rapidly at the end of the 1930's, as its population was swollen with the arrival of thousands of refugees fleeing Franco's dictatorship in Spain. Many died during the first harsh winter in 1939, and others perished fighting for Spain during the Second World War. Today, Argeles sur Mer is like many other resorts along the Languedoc-roussillon coast - lots of hotels, tourist entertainment, large marinas, bars and restaurants. Each year the resort receives over 300,000 holiday makers.
St Cyprien has 3 good beaches - North, Central and South (also known as Plage de la Lagune). The North beach is the best - bigger and with better sand than the Southerly stretch. The Central part of the beach borders the town of St Cyprien, with lots of shops and restaurants. These beaches do get quite windy due to the Tramontane wind that blows around Roussillon) so they are very popular with kite surfers and wind surfers. The views of the Pyrenees from the St Cyprien beaches make this a perfect spot for lying back and relaxing.
Collioure, with its three beaches has to be up the top of the list as the best Languedoc beach resort. Although the beaches are small and often busy, the views of the tranquil sea and Pyrennees are spectacular. You also have the wonderful town of Collioure on-hand with its restaurants, boutiques and artist trails to keep you amused. This is one of our favourite Languedoc beaches.
Just to the east of the coastal port of Sète is La Corniche. This large, deep beach with nice views of the Sainte-clair hill on which Sete sits. There is a free parking and in summer there are a number of large restaurant/night clubs on the beach itself. The wide beach at La Corniche thins out along the road between Sète and Cap D'Agde for many kilometres. It's a thin beach, but the regional council have spent a lot of money improving the road network and removing all the bloody caravans and mobile homes that used to park along this stretch of road. as a result the beach has been widened and more facilities added. The beaches along this stretch have a slightly wilder atmosphere, with no buildings within sight. they also tend to be quieter than La Corniche.
The beach at Marseillan Plage is long and wide, with beautifully fine sand. Our personal favourite is Robinson Plage - mainly because our kids think that this is where Robinson Crusoe lived. Although there are no restaurants nearby, a short walk will get you into Marseillan Plage itself where you will have plenty to choose from. - but you can pop into the town, which isn't far, for a bite to eat.
Port Leucate and Port Barcares are large purpose built South France beach resorts. To be honest they are not as bad as people make out and as beach resorts come, they are quite pleasant. Leucate plage is a wide sloping beach that is bordered by beach houses climbing up pretty fir-covered hills. There are two beaches here, a main, large beach just in front of the town and a smaller beach further along (popular with nude bathers and gay men). Port Leucate itself is a popular wind surfing location and boards can be hired in the town. There is plenty of parking, and lots of restaurants, bars and a few shops.
Very popular with wind surfers and kite surfers, La Franqui's beach is large and wide, with fine sand. There are two beaches, one just in front of the village and one further up the coast that is situated between the sea and the Etang (inland lake). It does get pretty windy here (hence the number of wind surfers), but the surroundings are pleasant and relaxed.
Le Barcares further down the coast to Perpignan has a nice village feel to it. The beach is deep and a little steep just before the water's edge. There are lots of bars, restaurants and shops nearby. You can hire jet skis at the port nearby and there are usually plenty of entertainments on offer for smaller children.
Torreilles beach, just past Le Barcares, is long and deep, with parking nearby. It has two beach bar/restaurants which offer welcome relief from the sun. Sitting here with a cold beer and looking out to the Pyrenees is very relaxing.
Remote and relatively wild, Portiragnes is a lovely intimate little beach, with fine sand. Although there are a few bars and restaurants in Portiragnes plage itself, they are separated from the beach by a large car park. As a result, you have a feeling of open space and nature. Portiragnes plage also offers unbroken views down the Languedoc coastline.