Get us in your inbox

Paloma Beach in France

The 10 best beaches in France

Ready for sun, sea and sand? From fantastic hikes to luxury beach resorts, France has it all

Heidi Fuller-Love
Written by
Heidi Fuller-Love

As soon as the sun comes out, we’re all dreaming of France. Big tables laden with cured meat and cheese, cheap rosé by the gallon, and minute, rural villages to discover and explore. But when life gets really stressful, what we’re all craving the most is a sandy beach. And luckily, France has them by the bucketload. 

Think wide open beaches, crystal clear waters and hidden coves. Think sunsets, kite-surfing and sightings of pink flamingos. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to head all the way to The Bahamas to get your hands on the best beaches around. From tranquil swimming spots to high-end resorts, here are the best beaches in France right now. 

📍 The best things to do in France
🍴 The best restaurants in France
✈️ The best places to visit in France
🏨 The best hotels in France
☀️ The best hotels in the South of France

Planning your next trip? Check out our latest travel guides, written by local experts.

Best beaches in France

En Vau

1. En Vau

This is one of those beaches that makes you think, ‘Surely it doesn’t look like that in person?’ But it does. This is the ultimate destination for a romantic holidays, surrounded by towering cliffs and characterised by a series of narrow limestone coves. The beach stretches across 20 kilometres of coastline between Cassis and Marseille, and if you’re up for a hike, you’ve got to check out Calanque D’en-Vau, an isolated little cove which is definitely worth it. 

Why we love it: you’ll never, ever tire of the mere setting. En Vau’s calanque location is magical.

Photograph: Robert Brands / Flickr

2. Palombaggia

Picture a silky strand flanked by pink granite cliffs and framed by sweet-scented pine trees – up the beauty tenfold, then you’d get Corsica’s most famous beach. Compared to something from the Caribbean, Palombaggia, a small slice of paradise just 10 kilometres from the ritzy town of Porto-Vecchio, also draws surfers who come to ride the waves on windy days.

Why we love it: warm, clear water surrounded by those cliffs? There’s absolutely nothing not to like about Palombaggia.

Photograph: akunamatata / Flickr

3. Pampelonne

Beach clubs, beautiful white sand and boho vibes are on offer at this world-famous strand in chic and sunny Saint-Tropez, a resort basically synonymous with one Brigitte Bardot. These days the A-listers you can expect to spot rubbing sun oil on their buff(ish) bodies include Bono, Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Campbell.


4. Gatseau

The bopping Île de Ré might be better known, but if you want to discover one of France’s best-known beach secrets, take the spectacular bridge over to Ré’s sister island Oléron. The second-largest island in France feels like heaven, with its kilometres of sandy beaches backed by grassy dunes and sweet-smelling pine forests, but the lovely shell-strewn Plage de Gatseau near Saint-Trojan-les-Bains easily wins Oléron’s coveted ‘best beach’ title.

Photograph: angelic / Pixabay

5. Almanarre

Famed for its wind and kite-surfing, this family-friendly, five-kilometre-long stretch of pristine coastline near Marseille is also home to pretty pink flamingos and other rare birds. With its talc-fine sand, warm shallow waters and undulating grassy dunes – alongside the unique sandy isthmus known as a ‘double tombolo’ – this expansive beach is ideal for families with toddlers. 

Île Vierge
Photograph: Jean-Jacques Alabain, Domaine Drogant Photography / Flickr

6. Île Vierge

The waters may be chilly, but where Brittany lacks the warmth of the south, its tranquil swimming spots and postage-stamp sea caves compensate with sheer, heart-stopping charm. There are plenty of pristine beaches near the region’s former sardine fishing port at Morgat, but with its gleaming pebble beach and always-clear waters, the aptly named île Vierge (‘Virgin Island’) is our favourite. 


7. Cabourg

It is like turning the clock back when you visit the favourite summer hideout of madeleine-loving Marcel Proust: Cabourg’s elegant seafront promenade overlooked by formal gardens and imposing villas is straight out of an old-time movie. You might not see bathing belles in stripy bloomers on this well-groomed Normandy beach, but some of that charm still hangs in the air.

Photograph: Cecile Petit / Wikimedia Commons

8. Porquerolles

Just a ferry away from chic Hyères, Porquerolles island feels like a living, breathing portrait of French seaside life back in the ’70s. A protected area for the past 45 years, this pretty island is car-free, and even smoking is banned, so you’ll need to set out on foot to find the soft sands and balmy blue seas of Notre Dame, the island’s most scenic plage.


Photograph: Ulrich Giraud / Wikimedia Commons

9. Lacanau

In-the-know French beach-goers go west to the pine-clad Atlantic Coast if they fancy a super-chilled spot to surf or sunbathe. The best is Lacanau-Océan near wine-loving Bordeaux: a dazzling 14-kilometre-long stretch of foreshore shaded by trees and framed by rolling grass-studded dunes. 


10. Paloma

Grab your swankiest swimwear and get ready for some celeb-spotting at this sophisticated Côte d’Azur beach named for Picasso’s daughter Paloma. You’ll be mingling with the moneyed beach-goers as you strut your stuff on this hip strip of sand. But it’s easy to understand the appeal: backed by beautiful gardens and reached via a rocky staircase, this upmarket resort is mind-blowingly picturesque.

    You may also like
    You may also like