The best beach towns in France are some of the most celebrated in the world. Cities like Cannes, Nice, and Marseille host thousands of tourists and hundreds of celebrities every single year.
But, these famous beach towns in France aren’t the only eye-catching ones in the country. There’s also the adorable town of Pigna on the island of Corsica, the under-the-radar port town of Sète, and the history-filled northern city of Honfleur.
France’s coastline is diverse with each beach town offering something unique. France boasts over 6,000 miles of coastline that are filled with fun surfing spots, aqua-colored water, and pristine seashores.
Many tourists spend a few days in France and think they’ve gotten a taste of France. As beautiful as Paris is, you’ll find a deeper appreciation and love for France once you venture to the coast.
Fair warning — since France is filled with several coastal gems, you’ll have a hard time deciding which one you want to visit first. Luckily, I’ve put together a list of eleven of the best beach towns in France to help you choose which getaway is perfect for you!
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11 Best Beach Towns in France
These beautiful coastal towns in France have delicious food, incredible wine, and stunning shorelines. What more could you want from a vacation on the French coast?
Before we jump in, it’s important to briefly discuss the best way to explore the best beach towns in France. The best way to explore these French coastal towns is by renting a car. Most of these beach towns don’t have reliable public transportation, especially on the weekends.
Don’t worry — driving in France is pretty easy. Plus, having your own car will allow you to fully explore the area and other neighboring locations.
Now, that we have that out of the way, let’s get started! Here are eleven of the best beach towns in France for the perfect vacation.
Cannes is undoubtedly the most famous beach town in France. With celebrities flocking to its shores each year for the Cannes Film Festival, it’s become a luxury oceanfront destination. You’ll definitely feel the chic vibes while you’re here.
The beaches of Cannes are certainly noteworthy too. Since Cannes is located in the South of France, the warm weather hangs out for most of the year so you can enjoy the sandy shores and blue waters of the Mediterranean for months! A few of the best beaches in Cannes include Plage de la Bocca, Palm Beach, and Plage du Midi.
You can also head over to La Croisette for a more private beach experience. This is one of the main streets in Cannes and it’s lined with hotels. Most of them have their own private beaches. You can rent a beach chair from some of the hotels and enjoy five-star beverage and food service on the beach.
After a nice and relaxing day on the beach, catch an epic Cannes sunset at Le Vieux Port. You can watch the vast yachts arrive in town here while grabbing a drink at one of the charming bars. This is where most of the Insta-famous sunset shots come from.
Situated halfway between Cannes and the millionaire-filled country of Monaco lies the popular town of Nice. With its sunny skies, warm waters, and admirable architecture, Nice is picture-perfect.
The most popular thing to do in Nice is to stroll along the Promenade de Anglais. This four-mile path gives visitors access to two of the things that this French town is most known for: the beaches and the buildings.
Most of the beaches in Nice have pebbly shores, which isn’t great for sunbathing, but the water stays warm for most of the year! A few fantastic beaches include Plage Beau Rivage, Ruhl Plage, and Blue Beach.
And, you certainly must make time for the historic buildings of Nice as well. Old Town, Place Masséna, and Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) are all worth a visit.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll find another reason to fall in love with this coastal town. Nice has contributed quite a bit to French cuisine and there are a few local must-try dishes. These dishes include Daube Niçoise which is a stew consisting of braised beef, fougasse bread, Salade Niçoise, and Socca which is similar to a pancake but more delicious.
Sète is a thriving port town on the Mediterranean. Yet despite its popularity in the business world, it has managed to stay relatively under-the-radar in regard to tourism.
While there are quite a few awe-inspiring beaches in Sète, the most intriguing is the thin, 13-mile stretch of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the saltwater lake known as Étang de Thau. Along this strip, there are many sunny beaches, including Plage de la Fontaine, Plage des Quilles, Plage Baleine, and Plage Castellas.
Like many of the best French beach towns, Sète has more to offer than just the beaches. You can peruse the art pieces in the Musée Paul Valéry, stroll around the old port, and watch the unique sport of water jousting during the annual Fête de la Saint Louis.
It’s rumored that King Louis XIV made Sète his personal sea entryway and it’s been a major port in France for centuries. Naturally, the seafood here is delicious and oysters are quite the delicacy here.
Sète also has canals that run through the town giving off Venice, Italy vibes. And, there’s always some sort of party going on in this town so you won’t have time to be bored.
When thinking of the best beach towns in France, you might assume that all of them are situated on the country’s southern coastline. That’s simply not the case, and Honfleur is a great example of a beautiful French beach town located in Normandy in the north.
Located where the River Seine meets the English Channel, Honfleur is one of the prettiest beach towns in France. As a matter of fact, the famous artist, Claude Monet visited Honfleur regularly simply because he loved to paint the beautiful town.
While you can certainly spend a large chunk of your time suntanning on the shores on Plage de Butin, you’ll definitely want to experience a little bit of Honfleur’s rich history as well. You can visit the historic port known as Le Vieux Bassin, the stunning St. Catherine’s Church, and the flower-filled Jardins des Personnalités.
Situated on the French island of Corsica, Pigna is definitely one of the best coastal towns in France. As a matter of fact, the French believe that Pigna is where you want to go to enjoy the best beaches in the country.
While the island of Corsica has dozens of beaches that are worth your time, there are a few noteworthy ones near Pigna. You can enjoy the warm waters of the Mediterranean at Plage de Bodri, Plage de l’île Rousse, and Plage Arinella.
Since Pigna is one of the newest additions to France (added in 1768), the culture there is quite different from the rest of the country – and you should definitely take the time to experience it. You can pop into the many boutique shops, take part in the Estivoce Festival, and try the tasty dish known as civet de sanglier.
Marseille boasts a cool combination of beach vibes and city vibes. So while you can opt to soak up the sun for the entirety of your getaway, you can also change it up with museums, restaurants, and historical spots.
The group of three beaches known as the Prado Beaches are lauded as the best beaches in Marseille. While there, you can get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the warm sun, cool off in the bright blue waters, and even take a picture with the replica of Michelangelo’s David.
The city part of Marseille also has quite a few things to do. You can visit the modern museum known as MuCEM, watch a soccer game at the Stade Vélodrome, or admire the breathtaking Palais Longchamp.
While many of the best beach towns in France are located along the Mediterranean Sea, Biarritz is situated on the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean.
Everyone – from celebrities to royals to authors – has spent time in Biarritz. As a matter of fact, you might recognize the town of Biarritz from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
Some of the best beaches in this esteemed town include Plage du Miramar, Plage Port Vieux, and Plage Marbella. And Biarritz is also home to quite a few fantastic surfing beaches, like Le Grande Plage and La Cote des Basques.
Biarritz is also right on the border between France and Spain. That means that this lovely town has influence from both cultures, as well as from the Basque culture. You can visit the many food stalls of Les Halles de Biarritz, pay a visit to the historic Église Sainte-Eugenie, or attend a service at Cathedrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne.
Like Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is situated along the Atlantic. As a matter of fact, these two French beach towns are just twenty minutes apart. You can actually see all of the Biarritz sights during your time in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and vice versa.
While Biarritz is more well-known, Saint-Jean-de-Luz offers a quieter beach getaway option. You can pop into the extravagant Église St-Jean Baptiste, shop along the Rue Gambetta, and try sheep’s milk ice cream from the local market.
And, of course, there are the lovely beaches. Plage de Lafitenia is by far the most visited beach in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, but there’s also Plage d’Erromardie and Plage de Senix.
Deauville is an adorable beach town located in Northern France. It was actually popularized by the French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, as it was where she opened her first boutique in 1913!
Today, it welcomes actors, musicians, and of course fashion designers to its sandy shores.
The most famous thing to do is spend time at Deauville Beach. While there, you can simply relax under a colorful umbrella or wander along the boardwalk. But that’s far from all Deauville has to offer!
You can also admire the architecture of Villa Strassburger, stop by Église Saint-Augustin de Deauville, listen to up-and-coming musicians at the Festival de Pâques, or watch an entertaining polo match at The Deauville International Polo Club.
With its striking limestone cliffs, Étretat might win the award for the most picture-perfect beach town in France.
Over time, these limestone cliffs have been naturally worn down to create awe-inspiring rock formations – from towering spires to curving arches. These natural sculptures are so breathtaking that they actually inspired the artist Claude Monet for decades!
There are a few different sections of these limestone cliffs, including Falaise La Mannaport, Falaise d’Aval, and La Falaise d’Amont. You can get a glimpse of these amazing views from convenient lookout points or easy walks.
And while you can certainly spend hours on end admiring these cliffs, there is more to do in Étretat. You can also stop and smell the flowers at Les Jardins d’Étretat and visit the historic Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.
Antibes is the under-the-radar counterpart to Cannes and Nice. Situated halfway between these two beach towns, you can experience the best of France’s Mediterranean Coast, but without the overwhelming crowds.
While in Antibes, you can wander around the enchanting old town, admire hundreds of art pieces at the Musée Picasso, and purchase fantastic fresh food from the Marche Provencal. Then, of course, there are dozens of awesome beaches. A few of the most popular ones include Plage du Ponteil, Plage de la Salis, Plage de la Gallis, and Grande Plage.
Do you have any destinations to add to this list of the best beach towns in France? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.