Lockers, carpets leading to the sea, waiter service, dining at the water's edge, and watersports – welcome to the world of the private beach.
It’s worth knowing what your options are before you head down to the seashore and throw your towel in with the punters on the public beaches. For one thing, you’ll not be throwing your towel, you’ll be carefully unrolling it on one of the patches of scalding pebbles that is not yet occupied, and for another, you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your gear when you go for a swim (not an easy feat when negotiating the Med’s punchy little waves). Unsupervised bags are easy pickings for opportunistic thieves.
Going private can eliminate many of these hassles (lockers keep your belongings safe, thick hessian carpets lead right down to the water’s edge, protecting your feet against the tricky terrain).
But the options vary, and some beaches are better than others. It all depends on what you’re looking for (and, of course, where you’re staying, as a good many of the hotels have preferential rates with various private beaches).
Taking them in order, running east to west from the foot of the colline du Château, this is our pick of the private beaches. First up is Castel Plage, with its smart restaurant and decking. In the lee of the headland, this beach is a wonderfully sheltered spot, with comfortable loungers and efficient waiter service. Similarly, Opéra Plage, the next in line, offers a smart spread with the addition of a locker for valuables. But the classiest patch on this strip is the venerable Plage Beau Rivage, with its art deco signage announcing the steps down to the blue and white livery of mattresses and umbrellas. Affiliated to the hotel of the same name, the Beau Rivage offers top-notch dining at the water’s edge.
Blue Beach, the only one of the bunch to be open all year round, tends to offer watersports, such as parasailing. And our final pick is Neptune Plage, a must for Riviera purists with its picturesque wrought-iron jetty.
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