Côte d’Azur’s beaches are famous the world over. They’re certainly plentiful, and every summer they’re thronged by tourists looking to enjoy the sun and the Mediterranean Sea!
But the beach isn’t just for tourists. We locals can’t wait for spring to arrive each year so we can go for a dip in the big blue.
Pensioners often go there early in the morning, then children with their parents after school, followed by families and friends in the evening, enjoying a moonlit aperitif.
It’s hard to list all the beaches in Alpes-Maritimes because the coastline is so long, but I’ll tell you a little bit about my favourites.
Wherever you are in Nice, you can go for a swim somewhere along the famous Promenade des Anglais. It’s over 7 km long and offers a whole host of options.
At the height of summer, the closer to the airport, the better in terms of peace and tranquillity. The closer you are to the Quai des États-Unis and the Cours Saleya, the busier it will be until late at night.
On warm summer evenings, it’s along the Quai des États-Unis where you’ll find locals and tourists mingling on the beach while enjoying a cold, refreshing drink by the sea, usually accompanied by an ice cream.
A little further down, past the port, you’ll find La Réserve Beach, which offers an absolutely magnificent view of the Baie des Anges [Bay of Angels].
There’s no sand or pebbles here, just rocks. You can also watch the boats come and go in Nice´s port. I don’t go there very often, but I do love this beach. I recommend buying yourself a pan bagnat [Nice’s speciality sandwich] at the little roadside stall nearby. Perfect for enjoying on the beach!
A little further down, you can take the coastal path past Coco Beach. The view is just as superb, but swimming is a little more difficult as you have to make your way over the rocks.
Sandy beaches? In Nice?
All along the Promenade des Anglais you’ll find a mix of public and private beaches, all with the big, round, grey pebbles that are Nice’s trademark. Less comfortable, admittedly, but so typical of Nice! So no, you certainly won’t find any sand to put your towel down on!
The best beaches around Nice
Between Nice and Menton
The coastline in this part of France stretches the length of the Alpes-Maritimes department, and it’s outside Nice itself that you’re sure to find the most beautiful beaches.
It’s hard to name them all, but here are my favourites:
Marinières Beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer
This beach offers an incomparable view of the Villefranche harbour. There’s no sand or pebbles here, just gravel. I really like this beach, especially for picnics on summer evenings.
And if you’re going to explore this beach, you should take the opportunity to visit the beautiful village of Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Passable Beach and Paloma Beach in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, home to some of the most expensive villas in the world, is certainly no slouch when it comes to beaches.
The pretty little Passable Beach is the starting point on the coastal path. Paloma Beach, meanwhile, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters.
Baie des Fourmis [Bay of Ants] in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
I love this little beach, set in a cove between palm trees and turquoise waters. Here too, the beach is mostly gravel.
And without doubt my favourite, Mala Beach in Cap-d’Ail!
You’ll have to work for it (there are steps down and a steep slope to deal with on the way back up), but once you’re there, you’ll be treated to an exceptional cliffside panorama of the beautiful Mediterranean.
I love this beach for its ‘hidden’ feel. The only downside is that the public area is too small as the private beaches take up a lot of space. It’s best to go early in the morning or late at night.
Menton on the Italian border
Don’t be afraid to keep on exploring as far as the Italian border and discover Menton and its sandy beaches. It’s a delightful town and a great place to relax and go for a swim.
Between Nice and Mandelieu la Napoule
Moving on to the west of Nice, why not set your towel down in Juan-les-Pins? The sand is lovely and the seaside town is great for tourists. However, it does get very busy in summer. Here are some more of my favourites:
I love the little Ondes Beach with its unrivalled charm.
Cannes and La Croisette
Head to Cannes and the famous La Croisette promenade for beautiful sandy beaches with views of the Estérel Massif and the Lérins Islands. In summer, you can also enjoy the many fireworks displays.
The Lérins Islands
If you’re going to be in Cannes, you should plan a day trip to the Lérins Islands. These two islands are a 15-minute boat ride from Cannes. They’re brimming with nature and have turquoise waters that are great for snorkelling.
Théoule sur mer
One place that always springs to mind when talking about beaches is Théoule-sur-Mer. Nestled amongst red rocks, these beaches are a match for anything else in the Alpes-Maritimes department. The colour of the water here is divine, thanks to those red rocks. My favourite thing to do is to take a kayak and go cruising from cove to cove! This is where the Alpes Maritimes and Var departments meet, the latter also boasting some sublime beaches.
To sum it up, if you come on holiday to Nice, you’ll definitely be able to enjoy some beach time. It’s just a matter of finding the one you like best!