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13 best beaches in Nice

Check out the best beaches in Nice, and get ready to soak up the sun in the French Riviera's glamorous beating heart

Written by
Duncan Madden
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This is the French Riviera at its most magnificent. The best beaches in Nice are the perfect mix of style and serenity, perfect spots where the rich and famous go to recharge. That shouldn’t be a surprise, this is the top table of European coastal tourism, but the beaches in and around Nice are perfect for visitors of all bank balances.

Believe it or not, some even offer sand, a real luxury. Pebbles are still king, but change is in the air. Beach season runs from April to October when the weather is perfect and the atmosphere sizzles with glamour. Nice has some of the best beaches in France, and these are the very best.

Beaches in Nice

La Réserve
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Scott L.

1. La Réserve

What is it? A local favourite, tiny La Réserve is a lesser-known public beach tucked away to the east of Nice town in the port area.

Why go? Just strolling distance from the centre of Nice, La Réserve may get crowded thanks to its diminutive dimensions, but its seclusion from the main stretch lends it a relaxed, intimate atmosphere. The famed diving boards that crazed local teens have long leapt from have been renovated as part of a restaurant serving great food with views to match.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

2. Villefranche-sur-Mer

What is it? Okay, so not technically in Nice, Villefranche plage is a 15-minute two-euro bus ride away and offers that rarest of things on the French Riviera: sand!

Why go? Alongside the pebble-free sunbathing, public Villefranche is a gem in the classic beachy sense. There is plenty of space to spread out, lots of oiled-up sun-worshippers, glistening warm waters and a range of restaurants and ice cream stalls to gorge on. And did we mention the sand?

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Plage Beau Rivage
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cookie M.

3. Plage Beau Rivage

What is it? Long a Nice hotspot, this private beach at the foot of the Old Town is the largest in the French Riviera and has five-star amenities to match.

Why go? You have to go glam at least once on each visit to the Côte d’Azur, and there are few better places than the Plage Beau Rivage. Take a table at the gourmet restaurant not 30 feet from the shore, sup a sundowner at the luxe lounge bar or just stretch out on a striped lounger for a well-earned snooze. 

Opéra Plage
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cecile N.

4. Opéra Plage

What is it? Nice’s oldest private beach and former opera house pavilion have been serving locals and vacationers alike since 1889 under the watchful eye of the Maiffret family.

Why go? One hundred and twenty-seven years of dedicated service has allowed the Maiffrets to hone their skills to provide some of the best hospitality in Nice. Whether you ‘need’ a massage in your sun lounger or a new swimming costume from their collection, no demand is too over the top. 

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Ruhl Plage
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Greger Ravik

5. Ruhl Plage

What is it? Another family-run affair along the Promenade des Anglais dating back a century, Ruhl Plage is a great choice for families.

Why go? Distinctly vintage in theme, it’s like stepping into an idyll from the French Riviera’s golden age. A wooden platform with steps into the sea saves pebble-worn feet, a saltwater pool with a lifeguard keeps the kids entertained, 80 private cabins with hot showers maintain your modesty, and Le Coin Lounge serves fresh Niçois dishes and an array of fabulous local wines. What’s not to like?

Castel Plage
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/M.Strīķis

6. Castel Plage

What is it? The easternmost private beach along the Baie des Anges, Castel is nestled under the headland and chateau and feels far removed from Nice’s throbbing crowds. 

Why go? Castel offers awesome facilities for a price and rolls friendly service into the mix – not something Nice establishments are famed for! Sun loungers are tightly packed but comfy, the restaurant serves fantastic Niçois food and ice-cold Provençal rosé to your table or lounger, and the Med is only a pebble’s throw away.

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Eze-sur-Mer
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Harshil Shah

7. Eze-sur-Mer

What is it? A short drive from Nice centre, but well worth the effort for a spot of seclusion, calm waters and some of the best swimming on the French Riviera.

Why go? The public beach has excellent amenities, loads of water sports to try your hand at in the Club Nautique from scuba to sailing, and tranquillity in the elegant Papaya Beach and ramshackle tasty restaurant in Anjuna Bay. The public beach is braced at each end by private beach clubs.

Le Galet
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Vince V.

8. Le Galet

What is it? Named after the pebbles that make up Nice’s beaches, Le Galet is a high-end new offering opposite Albert-ler Gardens with as much onus on food and drinks as its beachy setting.

Why go? Rather obscurely promising ‘the softest pebbles of the Côte d’Azur’, chic is Le Galet’s byword with a focus on Italian design, fresh food (the poke bowl is to die for) and social events (aka parties). Very en vogue with Nice’s in-crowd, it’s also one of the best places to see the February carnival march past.

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Blue Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Martina W.

9. Blue Beach

What is it? A private beach open year-round that is only steps away from some of Nice’s best hotels like the Negresco and Palais de la Méditeérranée on the Promenade des Anglais.

Why go? Often referred to as gastro plage, thanks to its excellent restaurant, the beach and restaurant are a boon for anyone willing to pay for entry. Vacationing with the family? The kids will love the beach swimming pool, trampoline and well-curated watersports activities, as will you!

Carras Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Emma C.

10. Carras Beach

What is it? handiplage, easygoing Carras at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais offers easy access and lifeguards so anyone with a disability can get in the water.

Why go? Aside from disability-friendly amenities, Carras is also Nice’s only pet-friendly plage so expect drenched mutts and the odd rogue Frisbee. It’s also the only beach where you can rent jet skis or, for something a little less hectic, head to the Cabane Bleu, where you can borrow free books and magazines in multiple languages.

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St Laurent du Var
Photograph: Unsplash

11. St Laurent du Var

What is it? The Plage des Flots Bleus in St Laurent du Var near Nice airport is the ultimate all-in-one beach day destination.  

Why go? At one end sits the Cap 3000 shopping mall with 150+ shops, and at the other sits the harbour, complete with bars and nightclubs. And in between is a brace of restaurants, handiplage access for less able beachgoers, beach clubs and early in the summer season before the tides wash it away… sand!

Coco Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Sokole Oko

12. Coco Beach

What is it? Keep wandering past the port and La Réserve beach, and with a keen eye, you will spot this tiny slice of rocks and pebbles – sometimes heaving with locals, sometimes completely deserted.

Why go? It is public, free, has lifeguards on duty in summer, offers showers to wash away that crystal clear salt water and a single restaurant that may be closed. So bring a picnic, drape your towel over one of the big rocks (trust us, they are comfier than the pebbles) and settle in for some serious sunning.

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Le Voilier Plage
Photograph: Courtesy booking.com

13. Le Voilier Plage

What is it? Plonked almost in the middle of the Baie des Anges along a stretch that affords more room than most, Le Voilier is a heady mix of private and public beaches.

Why go? Head to the gently sloping public beach for easy access to the sea, loos and a cold shower in high season. If you’re after a little extra, the private beach has hot showers, a playground for the kids, a year-round restaurant and everything from cheap towels to three-person day beds to lounge the day away.

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