Le Galet BeachBest Beaches in Nice 2024

Nice’s Promenade des Anglais boasts miles of beaches for every taste and budget, whether you want to chill on the cheap at a public beach or splurge for a day at a private beach, you’ve come to the right place! 

After a few general pointers, scroll down for the top picks for best beaches in Nice for every style and budget… and an interactive map at the bottom.

Nice Beaches:  Know before you Go

Smooth stones on beach in Nice

Nice beaches are covered in smooth stones instead of sand, which is due to being situated at the mouth of several rivers, whose river stones have being washing into the sea for eons.  The stones tend to be larger on the Old Nice end, and smaller – read: more comfortable and easier to walk on – towards the beaches from the middle to the airport side.

Insider tip: Get yourself a pair of cheap plastic beach shoes (aka reef walkers or aqua socks) straight away.  They may look dorky, but I promise that coming out of the water flapping your arms and jerk-strutting like a wild crane in heat is an even worse look!  And if you are going to a public beach, a yoga mat under your towel will really improve your comfort.

Another insider tip: Beach grabs are on the rise… don’t leave your stuff unattended if you go in for a dip, and if you are sunbathing, better to use your purse for a pillow rather than have it just lying there, waiting to be plucked.  Better yet, don’t take anything to the beach that would be a heartbreak if stolen.  …But if it happens, click here for what to do.

 

Private vs Public Beaches

Private beach/public beach in Nice France

Private or Public?

Because sunbathing on stones can be a challenge, private beaches are especially appealing in Nice: the comfy padded sun lounges lie high above the stones, not to mention the parasols, padded walkways, security, wifi, restaurant and bar service, toilets and changing rooms.  And even with 15 private beaches along the miles of beautiful bay, in July and August they all book up fast, so be sure to reserve in advance during high season… if you just show up at 11:30am you will be out of luck and end up sunning on the stones.  

But comfort has a price… and a day at a private beach can really set you back, so here are a few tips to keep the tab reasonable.

  • Double check that the parasol is included in the price, as it should be.  The parasol is already there between every two lounge chairs, so it is a greedy little add-on that many beaches tack on an extra fiver just for opening it up.
  • Save 5€ right of the get-go by bringing your own towel (I bring 3: one to lie on and one to dry off with, and a third for a pillow).
  • Stash a frozen bottle of water in your beach bag. You are technically not allowed to bring in outside food or bevvies, but over the course of the day you will run up quite a tab anyway, so give yourself this one little break.  
  • Don’t forget that you can cut the price even further if you go after lunch for the half-day deal… and with the sun still out at 8pm, you’ll still have a nice long time to bake.

In general, for a private beach for 2, count on dropping a hunsky at a minimum: a sunbed is 20€-50€ (!) per person (can be a bit less if you just do a half-day), anything you order for lunch will be 20€, 7€ on average for a glass of rosé or a coke, 5€ minimum for a small draft beer…and you can absolutely kill your beach budget if you start ordering the 15€ cocktails…!   But then again, you’d be having lunch, and probably drinks somewhere in town anyway… and it’s not everyday that you can pamper yourself for a memorable day at a private French Riviera beach…

Best Beaches in Nice Full Ranking

So without further ado, here are my recommendations for the best beaches in Nice, both private and public, going from east (old town) to west (airport), so that wherever you are, you have the scoop on the closest beaches.  

TLDR: I’ll say right now that best beach deals are a tie between Bocca Mar and Cocoon Beach with 20€ beach lounge beds.  And Hotel Amour Plage wins for best beach style and overall experience.  But since I’m rating them from east to west, you will have to scroll down a bit to find out the details…

Hippest, Coolest, most Gay-friendly, and Best Place for a Memorable Sunset Dinner 

Sign at entry for Castel Plage in Nice

Castel Plage. It has the most picturesque location, at the foot of the Chateau cliffs, across from the old town, and at the top of the Promenade des Anglais with a stunning panorama of the whole bay. The décor is belle epoch/art deco, the food is creative and delicious, if pricy, and this beach has the most artsy and eclectic clientele.  …And they just got even more chic, with the addition of an oyster bar carved right into the cliff face!  Lounge chairs 30€+5€ parasol (grrr), 20€ for a half-day.  The closest hotels are the luxurious La Perouse and the more affordable Hotel Suisse, both built into the cliff face.

 

Best Public Beach for the Young and the Restless

Opera Plage public beach.  Just across from Vieux Nice and with a sandy beach volleyball court, this is the place for the hot hipsters, and the buzz goes on late into the night with groups of friends playing music, picnicking, and just generally hanging out until the wee hours.  Lots of fast food is available just steps away in the old town, so a great place to sunset picnic with a pizza and a bottle of cold rosé.  Also, just down the beach, they’ve now installed a cord to help you get out of the water!   Closest hotel is the Mercure Marche aux Fleurs but if you are on a budget try the small family-run two-star Hotel Cresp just across from the Nice Opera.

Most Reasonably-Priced Beach near the Old Town, and…

Best Beach for Drinks

Opera Plage. Located right across from the Nice Opera House, Opera Plage was first private beach in Nice back in the Golden Age, and after 120 years has a super loyal local clientele.  Not as ritzy as some of the others, Opera Plage has a down-to-earth vibe, fun staff, good music, and the best prices on this end of the Prom. A lounge chair for the day (including parasol) is 30€ for the first or second row, 25€ other rows, half-day 19€.  Niçoise Salad 18.50€, draft beer, house wine, or Coca-cola 5€.  Being right across from the Old Town, you have a good choice of hotels in close proximity, see my page on Best Hotels in Old Nice

Most Saint-Tropez-like Vibe and DJ Party Scene

Sign at Beau Rivage Beach in Nice

Beau Rivage Plage.  This is the largest private beach in Nice, taking up the equivalent of an entire block, and with two entrances.  It is very upscale in every way; for instance the lounge chairs are sturdy wood and not flimsy plastic, and they space out their lounge chairs so you are not in the lap of the person next to you. One entrance features a pulsing techno DJ bar, tapas platters, has a Taittinger Champagne theme going, and hosts lots of nighttime events…  On the other end is the gourmet restaurant, fortified by the culinary staff of the Beau Rivage Hotel, and they do a nice weekday lunch deal for 35€.   The loungers are 30€ plus 5€ to open your parasol (grrr again), 22€ for a half-day, and 17€ after 4:30pm. They also have deluxe double sunbeds for two for 70€.  Closest hotel is the Hotel Beau Rivage, and if you stay here you can be extra cool and sign it all to your room!

Best Public Beach for Handicap Access

Centenaire Plage.  One of two Nice Handiplages, Centenaire has ramps, water wheelchairs, life-guards, cords to help get out of the water, and lots of specialized equipment, making this beach is a godsend for those that need a little extra support.  There is another Handiplage on the other end of the Prom, Carros, which is more specialized for visual impairments (talking buoys for swimming!).  Also these plages are non-smoking, which is kind of nice.  Located at the end of the Promenade du Paillon, right next to La Galet private beach with an excellent Italian restaurant and bar, the closest hotel would be Le Meridian, right across the street, with its famous rooftop bar. 

Best Italian Beach Day without leaving Nice

Le Galet Beach

Le Galet Plage.  One of a crop of new owners of old beaches, this one is named after the famous smooth stones… les galets.  It is part of the Gusto family of renown local Italian eateries: La Voglia and La Favola in Old Nice, and Boccaccio on rue Massena, so their culinary track record is good.  Top Italian cuisine, Milan-chic ambiance.  23€ for a lounge chair (25€ for front row) plus a 6€ fee to open that pesky parasol.  Closest hotel, Le Meridian, but if this is your chosen beach, I’d steer you one block farther, to the far more chic Palais de la Mediterranee.

Best Beaches for Getting In and Out of the Water

Ruhl PlageDock in front of Ruhl BeachThis beach has a secret weapon: it has a dock on wheels that they roll into the surf each morning, so you can  stroll out to the tip of the dock and jump in, and get back to the beach by just climbing back up, and never have to interact with the beach stones at all!  Lounge chairs are 30€ including parasol. Run by the same family since 1920, Ruhl Plage has a loyal local following, even with a pretty uninspiring lunch menu and pricey drinks.    Closest hotel, Palais de la Mediterranee.

The next best thing to the rolling dock?  A giant dog statue throwing you a rope…!  New this year, the city installed giant ‘Totor’ sculptures attached to hearty ropes anchored deep in the surf  to give people a little extra hand (paw?) plus a bit of dignity when getting out of the water!  During summer months, you can’t miss them at the following beaches:

  • Ponchettes (next to Opera public beach)
  • Centenaire
  • Blue Beach 
  • and Sainte-Helene (just before Regence Plage, near the hotel Raddisson).

WINNER (tie): BEST BEACH DEAL in Nice

Bocca Mar beach sign

Bocca Mar beach not only has the best-priced sun-beds at 20€ including the parasol (30€ for the front row, 25€ for second row), but also has good food, from the same owners as local favorite Bocca Nissa in the Old Town.  Across from the Palais de Mediterranee Hyatt hotel, tram stop Massena. 

 

Vying to be the Trendiest Nice Beach

Trendy decor, lots of techno-lounge music, and a bit of low-key attitude. Le Temps d’un Ete doesn’t post their beach prices, you have to come down to ask at the desk, and they change according to their feelings.  Lounge chairs with parasol in May and September can be as low as 20€ or 24€ for first row, but July/Aug 27-33€,  first row 33-39€…  

Best Beach after a Spa Day

Blue Beach (26€ front row or 22€ other rows +7€ to open the parasol) has too-tight lounge chair spacing and that annoyingly trendy techno vibe, but they get points for a feature that no other beach has: they are directly across from The Westminster Hotel  and Le Spa 27, winner of my Best Spa Day Deal in Nice, making this the easiest beach to prolong your post-massage bliss.  

Best Beach for Water Sports

Sporting Plage.  Just across from the trippy Hotel Le Negresco, on the public beach Sporting Plage, you’ll find La Base Sport Riviera Nautique Sport Center.  They offer the full panoply of water sports, with parasailing (solo, duo or triple, 60/80/100€), raft boarding, waterski, wake board, flyboard, and paddle kayak. Not cheap but definitely a thrill!  Plus they have one of the aforementioned giant cords to help you get out of the water!

Priciest Beach, but with the Most Pampering

The Negresco Plage, affiliated with the iconic pink-domed hotel, delivers hotel-level pampering and deluxe amenities like top-quality oversized beach sheets (here you don’t have to bring your own towels!), the thickest and fluffiest sun-bed cushions, well spaced lounge chairs so you don’t hear anyone else’s conversations except your own, attentive silver-platter service, and lunch comes from their Michelin-starred kitchen.  Hotel prices, too, bien sur: 50€ for a sun-bed, 65€ if it’s on the first row, 150€ for a double, making this the priciest beach in Nice… but maybe worth it?

WINNER: BEST BEACH STYLE and FUN

Hotel Amour a la Plage (formerly Hi Beach) is the most beautiful, quirky, romantic, stylish, and fun beach in Nice.  Instead of being full of themselves, this beach is full of flowers… hundreds of flowers, that perfume the air and the ambience.  The décor is playful, with twinkle-lights and a shabby-chic color palette with lots of flea-market finds.  The vibe is fun, relaxed, and not at all pretentious.  This beach is also naturally blessed, as it sits on the part of the bay with the smallest pebbles and gentlest slope, so getting in and out of the sea is a snap.  Beach lounges are 25€ with parasol, the drinks are reasonable, and the menu is basic but good with a daily special plat du jour for 16€.  Located 5 minutes walk from the bottom of Boulevard Gambetta, it’s a 10 minute walk from the Alsace-Lorraine tram stop, or even shorter with the bus #99 that does a continuous figure-8 loop through downtown and drops off at Gambetta every 15 minutes. Obviously, you’d want to stay at the equally stylish Hotel Amour with its rooftop pool terrace, to get the full experience.  

Another Vying to be the Trendiest Nice Beach

La Vela bills itself as ‘family chic’ and offers their sun lounges for 23€ and 25€ including parasol.  Good if your family likes techno music… 

Best Beach in Nice for Kids

Li Rateta Kid’s Club  This Kid’s Beach Club is a city-sponsored, super-affordable, well-supervised ‘club-Med’ for kids 6-12, with a focus on teaching watersport skills like swimming, surfing, and canoeing, and so much more.  Drop the kids off between 9-10am for a morning (13€) or all day (21€), or between 1:30-2:30pm for an afternoon (16€), and let the kids have a blast while you go somewhere else to chill.  There is a pool, the gentlest beach in Nice, lifeguards on either side, board games, sun beds, a wave machine for surfing, bouncy palaces, big trampolines, sand badminton courts, beach tennis…  July and August only; credit cards only, tram stop Magnan.

Best Public Beach for Families

On both sides of Li Rateta, you will find really gentle beaches that are great for kids of all ages.  Here it is the easiest to get in and out of the water due to a gradual slope and the tiniest pebbles, and there are life guards on both sides.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches closer to the center of town, this is a great beach to spread out for a picnic as there is lots of space and it’s not crowded.

WINNER (tie): BEST BEACH DEAL in Nice

Cocoon Beach Nice. This is the spot for an affordable and uncrowded private beach with a decent restaurant and the best priced kids meals of any of the beaches. Beach lounge chairs with parasol are just 20€ in peak season (but 30€ for front row, 25€ for second row) and just 15€ in off-season, and they have large sun beds as well that you could fit the whole family on and really get into that cocooning vibe.  Besides the beach they also have a pool, and the menu looks quite delish.  Tram stop Fabron or Lenval.

Best Beach for Posers

Canailles Lounge Beach. One of the last private beaches is Canailles Lounge Beach, which is going all out for a super-chic Saint-Tropez vibe: they’ve totally nailed the techno-trance music, snooty attitude, and pricy sun beds. Their lounge chairs are expensive and priced row-by-row, and go from 25€ (plus 5€ parasol) for the back rows, up to 100€ and even 150€ for a VIP sun bed, so once you are installed, your place in the lounge-chair pecking order is abundantly clear to all.  The problem is that the Saint-Tropez vibe doesn’t really translate to the working-class end of Nice; and bronzing and cocktailing in front of an enormous children’s hospital with sick kids looking down on you is actually kind of a buzz kill.  Tram stop Lenval

Best Private Beaches for Personal Space

Regence Plage.  This is the last beach in Nice, and it is across from and belongs to the Radisson Blu Hotel. It’s a little on the pricy side, but normal for hotel prices.  Their lounge chairs are well spaced out and start at 30€ (with parasol) and they also have VIP sun beds for 75€.  The menu is standard hotel faire but backed by the culinary crew of the hotel, so a solid bet, and you can sign to your room. Tram stop Fabron. Other beaches with luxurious spacing between lounge chairs are Negresco Plage, Blue Beach and Beau Rivage, above.

Map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

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Photo credits: Best of Nice

 

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