Best Beaches on the French Riviera

Outside of Nice, you are spoiled for choice for fabulous beaches for every taste, and most are an easy stop on the local train line.

Take the train to:

Roquebrune for the gorgeous family-oriented pebbly/sandy public beach Plage de la Buse with beachside bar, snack bar, and reasonably-priced restaurant La Cabanon tucked right into the cove.

Cap d’Ail for Mala Plage, a stunningly beautiful cliff-backed setting with a large public beach and 2 luxurious private beaches including La Reserve de Mala where you can get waited on hand-and-foot, and Eden Plage which is more laid back and with live music in the afternoons.  Both are very popular with the Monaco crowd.

Eze-sur-mer  The narrow pebbly Adjuna beach is popular with yachties and has a lively vibe and almost always live music.

Beaulieu-sur-Mer The family-friendly Petite Afrique public beach is nestled in a protected cove and even has a jellyfish net!   Really good for the little ones.

Or from the Beaulieu train stop, or from Nice, take the bus #15 to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and where the award-winning  Paloma Beach (named after Picasso’s daughter) awaits you.  Voted one of the top 2 beaches on the Riviera by popular vote in the local paper, this beach has a large public area, a water sports concession, and a snack bar, or splurge for the private beach and wonderful high-end restaurant.  Here are some things not to miss after the beach…

Villefranche-sur-Mer  This moon-shaped public beach has views on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on one side, the picturesque pastel-hued village on the other, and in the middle a view on the super-yachts and cruise ships moored in the bay.  You can also get here from Nice or the Beaulieu train station with the bus #15, and can make a day of it.

Cannes Just 2 minutes out of the train station and you’ll find yourself on the famous Croisette. Right in front of you is Cannes’ only free public beach, and large and sandy one at that (nice change from Nice!), followed by miles of pricey private beaches, delineated by the color of their parasols.  Here’s some ideas for exploring Cannes apres-beach…

Juan-les-Pins Hang with the in-crowd on pricy private beaches with fine smooth sand, or take a scenic walk on the paved path around the windswept Cap d’Antibes peninsula to the fine-sanded public Plage des Ondes, or continue all they way around the point to the high-roller La Garoupe beach near the famous Eden Roc hotel, where F. Scott Fitzgerald used to summer and set his book Tender is the Night.

Théoule-sur-Mer A short hike down the red-hued cliffs of the Esteral rewards you with the most beautiful wild, secluded, and untouched beaches on the Riviera: the Plage de l’Aiguille was voted the Best Beach on the Riviera in the Nice-Matin.

Saint-Raphael  The final and most famous beach on the French Riviera is the hardest to get to.  You can take a car but I don’t recommend it.  You can take a direct boat from Nice or take the train to Saint-Raphael and then a much shorter boat ride, and both drop you off to the village.

Most first-time visitors to Saint Tropez are surprised to find that the famous topless beaches of ’70’s Riviera lore are nowhere to be found (plus they’re not really topless…) they’re in Ramatuelle, a 15-minute cab/uber ride away (approx. 20€). The holy grail of famous beaches is Pampelonne, where you can post like an influencer at Le Club 55, drink Champagne like a tech-bro at Byblos Beach, and frolic in the footsteps of Bridget Bardot with nepo-babies and C-listers, all while having the most expensive beach day of your life.

For the ultimate resource on all beaches on the coast, check out Riviera-Beaches by my friend, Jeanne Oliver

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