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Sports & Outdoors

Top beaches in the South of France

Head to the best beaches in the south of France with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and enjoy sun, sand and sea.

Heading to the south of France this summer? No doubt it's the beaches you're looking for. There's nothing like going for a splash in the Med or having a family day at the beach.

We've found some of the seaside hot spots in this gorgeous corner of Europe. So grab those sunglasses, pack those sandals, and head to the coast - just don't forget the sunscreen! Do as the French do and pack that sun umbrella - it means you can spend all day soaking up a good novel, instead of too much sun.

To reach the south of France from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle can take a full day of driving, so to break up your journey we suggest stopovers en route.

Fine white sand stretches for 4km on Valras-Plage beach

Valras Plage, Languedoc

This sprawling stretch of beach is the perfect spot for a European coastal break. Here you'll discover the clean, clear waters fringing the scenic Languedoc region, and plenty of shops and restaurants to boot.

Swim, sunbathe or stroll along the water's edge with an ice cream, browse the local boutiques, or watch the fisherman bringing in their catch for the day. You can be sure the seafood in the restaurants here is as fresh as it gets.

Over the summer there are extra things for kids to do, from seaside fairground rides to an adventure park. This is a popular holiday spot, so expect summer crowds, but with kilometres of sandy beach available, there's plenty of space to go around.

Getting there: We recommend breaking up your journey in Orléans. From Eurotunnel Le Shuttle it's 415km (about 4 hours driving time) to Orléans, following the A1, and changing to the A10 once you pass through the outskirts of Paris.

From Orléans it's 640km, about 5 hours 45 minutes driving time, heading south on the A71 and changing to the A75 just out of Clermont-Ferrand.

The idyllic Plage des Marinières is loved by locals too

Plage des Marinières, Côte d'Azur

A short drive from Nice, beside the pretty fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, is Plage des Marinières. This kilometre-long beach of golden sand is a real hot-spot in summer, when visitors to the French Riviera seek a little sand and sea to go with that glorious sun.

The waters here are warm and clear, excellent for swimming and snorkelling. And, for when you want refreshing, there are ice cream stalls and seafood restaurants dotted along the waterside.

If you fancy exploring beyond the beach, head into the picturesque Old Town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. It may even look familiar, given that it's a location used in many classic films, including Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, and the James Bond Never Say Never Again. Remember to bring your camera to capture the scene for yourself.

Getting there: We recommend taking a break during your journey in Lyon. From Eurotunnel Le Shuttle it's 758km (about 6 hours 30 minutes driving time) to Lyon, following the A26.

From Lyon it's 478km (about 4 hours and 25 minutes driving time), heading south on the A7, then heading east on the A8 out of Aix-en-Provence.

Plage de L'Almanarre, Provence

For those who love being by the sea but find it hard to sit still - even with the best of beach novels to hand - Plage de L'Almanarre is the place to go.

This scenic 4-kilometre stretch of sand draws people who love their water sports, thanks to the consistent winds along one edge of the beach. Every year it hosts fun-board and kite-surfing competitions. The shallows are great for paddling and safe for children and there are more sheltered areas where you'll find people kayaking.

Venturing out further offers you prime conditions for windsurfing. There are shops here which will rent out surfing equipment, and beginners will find surf schools dotted around the area, to help get them started.

If bringing the kids, be sure to check out the flamingo colonies which live in the salt marshes behind the main beach.

Getting there: Driving to Provence offers the perfect opportunity to stop by one of France’s top foodie towns of Grenoble. Coast along the A26 and look forward to the city’s traditional dish of Gratin Dauphiné.

From Grenoble, Provence is just 182km (about 2 hours and 40 minutes driving time), heading south via the D1075 (this route includes tolls).

Some catamarans and sun loungers on a fine white sand beach, looking out to the blue sea

Argelès-sur-Mer, Côte Vermeille

If you really want to find a reasonably spacious beach, even in the height of summer, Argelès-Plage is your best bet. Many kilometres long and extremely wide, there's a little something for everyone here.

The northern, pine-fringed end enjoys great views of the Pyrenees, and the rugged southern end is dotted with coves which are perfect for snorkelling, or going exploring.

Both ends are comparatively quieter to the central section of beach - here kids can play at the seaside funfair, restaurants have plenty to please hungry beachgoers, and water sports fans have a whole host of options to choose from. Meanwhile, the promenade is busy with people strolling along in happy holiday mode. Why not join them?

Getting there: The quickest route to Côte Vermeille takes you near to Paris towards the start of your journey – it would be rude not to pay the capital a quick visit, non? If you want to avoid the traffic, then another option for a quick visit is one of many Paris park and ride spots.

Argelès-sur-Mer is 886km (about 8 hours 50 minutes driving time) from Paris heading south on the A71 and changing to the A75 just out of Clermont-Ferrand.

View on old town of Antibes from plage de la Salis, France

Plage de la Salis, Antibes

Home to one of Europe's most glamorous hotels, the Hotel du Cap, Le Cap D'Antibes region certainly brings with it a little glitz and glamour. But you don't have to be rich, famous, or even a guest of the grand hotel to enjoy the stunning setting of this idyllic stretch of coastline.

La Salis is one of the main beaches along this part of the French coastline, and while it's busy in summer - as beaches tend to be - it's worth seeking out for the great swimming conditions.

Families flock to La Salis for its gentle breakwaters, which make it a safe place for kids to spend the day in the water. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and the beach enjoys a great view of the old lighthouse.

Getting there: We recommend breaking your journey in Reims. From Eurotunnel Le Shuttle it's 269km (about 2 hours 30 minutes driving time) to Reims, following the A26.

From Reims it's 940km (about 9 hours driving time), heading south on the A39.

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