August 1, 2016

Summer-in-the-south-of-France-hero Spot the yachts at Saint-Tropez – Image by Flickr user Pierre de Sable

As a child I spent almost all my summers scouting the French countryside, but my favourite summers by far involved running around on the sandy beaches of southern France. The French Riviera is an incredibly popular destination, especially during summertime, so I’ve gone through some of my all-time favourite beaches, to help you choose where to lay down your towel this summer.

Plage des Salins

When you think of Saint-Tropez, you might picture the three-mile-long sands at Pampelonne, the area’s most famous, and longest, beach. Having attracted the uber-chic holiday crowd of the 1960s, Saint-Tropez is still popular with creatives and the yacht-owning elite today. While Pampelonne is beautiful, you don’t have to travel far to find a beach of equal beauty, with significantly fewer people. Plage des Salins features gorgeous white sands, which stretch out for around 600 metres, and is lined with pine trees. There’s even a fantastic private beach restaurant! To get there, you can follow the Route des Salins, which will take you to the restaurant’s free parking, and from there you can walk around the corner to reach the southern end of the beach.

Paloma Beach

A favourite of many for a bit of celebrity spotting, Paloma Beach can be found just southeast of Nice, at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. A small shingle beach, Paloma is banked by thick trees and overlooked by the exclusive Paloma Beach Restaurant, which, it’s said, frequently plays host to the likes of Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie. For me, though, this beach is a brilliant place to swim, with its calm waters protected by the crescent-shaped bay. I love diving off the beach’s pontoon, and you can take a jet ski or rent a wakeboard from the restaurant. For a truly relaxing experience, simply rent a sunbed and parasol and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Calanque d'en Vau

France’s stunning Calanques.

Go hiking around France’s stunning Calanques. © Flickr user Fred Bigio

This beach is not easy to get to, but once you’re there, the views and serenity of your surroundings make the trip well worth it. Part of France’s famous Calanques, you can see the beach by taking a boat tour from Cassis, although you won’t be able to step foot onshore. If you’re prepared with good hiking shoes and plenty of water and snacks, I highly recommend setting off for an early morning hike from Cassis, and spending the day at this incredible beach. Weather conditions can change the accessibility of the Calanques, so it’s best to check conditions the night before. You can walk down to the beach from the car park at de la Fontasse by following the marked walking route, but prepare for a bit of a climb down!

Plage de l'Almanarre

A great option for families with kids, Plage de l'Almanarre can be found alongside the Route du Sel (Salt Road), south of Hyères. The position of this beach means it gets a lot of coastal wind, which naturally makes it a popular spot with windsurfers, and on the opposite side of the road you’ll find a brilliant nature reserve in the form of a salt marsh, where you can see many different species of birds, including the bright flamingos which nest there. The gently-sloping sands at Plage de l'Almanarre make it a good swimming spot for kids, although the tide can be quite strong during high winds.


The south of France is popular with windsurfers. © Flickr user Julie Missbutterflies


The wide open sands at Valras-Plage are popular at summertime, but large enough to accommodate everyone. Near to the historic town of Béziers, I love this beach because it’s got great amenities and makes for a really easy day out. There are some brilliant restaurants lining the beach, and I love watching boats as they leave the harbour. Like the rest of the beaches along the southern French coast, the water is warm enough for a dip, even in late summer. This beach is perfect for a long day out, as you’ve got everything you need nearby.


The wide open sands at Valras-Plage are ideal for a day of relaxation. © Flickr user Henrik Anderson
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