Many travelers feel drawn to France by its rich history, castles, gardens, cuisine and landscapes. Some of our most beautiful summer landscapes are on the French coast, so for those who plan to visit France during the summer months, we’ve compiled a selection of some of the best beaches in France, which would make a perfect day-trip to include in your tour of France.
Saint Malo, Brittany
Saint Malo is an old town steeped in history, and was recently voted best beach spot in France. Walking along the town’s cobbled streets may feel like taking a step back in time. High granite walls enclose the old town of this port city, which was once occupied by privateers (pirates who were approved by the king), and under siege during World War II. We recommend trying some of the local delicacies, namely oysters and crepes, which you'll find in many of the town’s restaurants and markets.
Once you have explored the walled citadel, head down to the golden sands of one of the best beaches in France on the Emerald Coast. The Plage du Môle is a lovely sandy beach on the English channel, great for swimming and protected from the wind by the pier. The beach has a summer lifeguard station which makes it popular with families.
Saint Malo Beach (Pixabay)
The vast stretches of beach in Normandy are a fantastic place to spend a summer vacation. If you are visiting Normandy in mid-June, a visit to the charming coastal town of Cabourg during its annual film festival is a must. The town dedicates five days to the French and European romantic film genre, including premieres, lectures and debates, and indoor and open-air screenings of short and feature-length films, all open to the public. During the festival, a large screen is erected on the beach allowing 400 people per viewing to enjoy a movie on the beach under the stars. The best way to enjoy the beach at night!
Cabourg immense sand beach in Normandy (Wikipedia: Ji-Elle)
La Garoupe, French Riviera
On the French Riviera, or Côte D'Azur, between Cannes and Nice is a small but beautiful beach in Antibes and some say among the best beaches in France, with lovely views over the Mediterranean and of the Alps in the distance.
Some of the beaches along this stretch are private and belong to local restaurants along the beach-front. There is a public beach between La Joliette and Le Rocher restaurants with lounge chairs and umbrellas available to hire from mid-June through September. This is a sandy beach, which is good to bear in mind considering the main beach in Nice is a pebble beach.
La Garoupe beach, Antibes (Flickr)
Hourtin Plage and Lake Hourtin, Southwestern France
With a couple more of the best beaches in France, Hourtin is located just to the west of the vineyards in the Médoc region.
When you have finished exploring the region’s wonderful vineyards, you may like to bring a bottle of wine to enjoy on a lovely day-trip to the beach. The coastal beach at Hourtin Plage is eight miles from the town of Hourtin and just under 50 miles from the city of Bordeaux. It is ideal for sailing, surfing and windsurfing.
The Atlantic Ocean in Hourtin area (Pixabay)
Deauville is most famous for its annual American Film Festival, its grand casino, golf courses, horse racing and regatta galas, not to mention its beach, a beautiful expanse of golden sand.
Its iconic parasols hint nostalgically at times gone by, as do the beach huts which line the beach’s promenade. The nicest time for a stroll along the promenade is first thing in the morning when Deauville beach is quieter, or at sunset. Look out for famous names painted on the boardwalk, Deauville’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame!
Deauville Umbrellas - © G. Wait
You might say that Trouville is Deauville’s more laid-back neighbor. The town is a little more low-key and has the best fish market in the region, open every morning by the port. The boardwalk down at the beach offers visitors a lovely stroll along the seaside where they can admire the elegant 19th century beach villas which line the sea-front. If the sea air puts you in the mood for a fresh fish supper, make a reservation at Les Affiches restaurant, once of the best in the area.
Trouville sur Mer in Normandy - laid-back & great fish market (Wikipedia)
Plage de la petite chambre d’amour, Basque Country
As its name suggests (‘Little Love Chamber Beach’), this is one of the most romantic beaches in France. Located in France’s Basque Country at the foot of the majestic Cap Saint Martin cliff with views of the famous Biarritz lighthouse, there is something for everyone. It has a sandy beach perfect for family vacations and is a popular surfing spot. We recommend a walk along the cliffs to visit the old lighthouse and enjoy the beautiful views over the beach and the town of Biarritz.
Biarritz beaches in the Basque Country (PIxabay)
Collioure is in the Catalan Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, close to the border with Spain. A typical Mediterranean fishing village, the medieval Château Royal de Collioure offers dramatic coastal views.
The landscape, which includes the castle and the iconic 17th century bell tower, inspired artists such as Henri Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. One journalist described Collioure as “as near in style to St Tropez as the Languedoc-Roussillon coast has to offer, but without the…laughable prices. It’s also regularly among the sunniest, warmest summer spots in France.”
Collioure in Languedoc Roussillon (Wikipedia)
Banyuls Sur Mer, Languedoc-Roussillon
Banyuls Sur Mer is a charming area also in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, on the Vermillion Coast. This seaside resort is very close to the Spanish border and is famous for its architecture and rich Catalan history and traditions. There is a picturesque fishing port and stepped streets through the town. You'll enjoy the sea views from the top. The area has some of the best beaches in France, with several coves and hiking trails along the coast with gorgeous views of the Pyrenees Mountains. We recommend Plage du Troc, Sana beach and Fontaulé beach.
Banyuls sur Mer near the Spanish border (Jorge Franganillo)
Plage du Petit Sperone, Corsica
This pristine little enclave is named by many as the best beach on the French island of Corsica. It is a 15-minute walk along the beach from Piantarella beach, or you can hire a kayak from Piantarella and paddle over to Sperone. Apart from its white sands and crystalline waters, the beauty of Sperone is its untouched, natural appearance. The sea is shallow, and the beach is less windy than at Piantarella. There are few facilities at Sperone beach, so bring food and drink with you, or purchase some from the beach bars at Piantarella beforehand.
Sperone beach, Corsica (Flickr)
If you are interested in visiting one or two of the best beaches in France during your trip, we can include these in your itinerary.