There's a beach for you in Cote d'Azur

There are some beautiful beaches along the Cote d'Azur (the coast of azure) which stretches for 115 kilometres and is fringed by the Mediterranean. Many of the beaches are large golden stretches of sand where you can lie out and feel the warmth of the beautiful sun. If you prefer you can relax in the shade of a palm tree with a book or find a beach with good water sports. Wherever you choose, the gorgeous azure waters of the Mediterranean are just a stone's throw away, tempting you to enjoy a cooling dip or to explore the fascinating world that lies beneath the waves.


Family fun or peaceful solitude.

The beaches vary greatly from large expanses of fine white sand to small bays with wave- polished pebbles. Some of the beaches are fringed by lawns and others by soaring cliffs. There are private coves for two and large sandy beaches with designated swimming areas for family safety and fun. There are many beaches offering facilities such as showers, toilets and restaurants, and others simply the shade from a palm tree. Some beaches are private and either not accessible at all or only on the payment of an entry fee, many others are public, and some have special facilities for those with mobility problems. Dogs are allowed on many (note to owners: please take your bags with you to keep the beach pristine) and on others, barbecues are allowed as long as the beach is left in a good condition afterwards - for others to enjoy.


Playground of the rich at the côte d'azur.

The Cote d'Azur first became popular with the British nobility at the end of the 18th century because its pleasing climate with 330 days of sunshine each year were found to be very good for health. With the arrival of the railway, 100 years later, the area became the popular playground of the rich from Britain, Russia and other countries and French and British entrepreneurs worked together to develop it as a tourist destination. In the early 20th century, the Cote d'Azur became popular with artists and writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night in Saint Raphael. The launch of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946 made it popular with celebrities especially when in 1953 Brigitte Bardot and Kirk Douglas attended the festival following the success of their film Act of Love. It was soon the most exclusive holiday destination in the world. It has continued to be the playground of the rich and famous ever since and many ordinary people travel to Cap d'Azur for a taste of the glamorous beach life.


The first nudist island.

There are a number of nudist beaches in the region and also the only nudist island in Europe – Ile du Levant – meaning the 'Island of the Rising Sun'. This delightful island full of old world charm, palm trees, flowering cacti and crystal clear water was established as a nudist colony in the 1930s by two brothers who were doctors. They created the village of Heliopolis on the island where people could relax and reconnect with nature – without being restricted by their clothes. The island is as popular as ever today and nudity is still compulsory. Pointe de l’Aiguille beach is a very picturesque setting that can be found close to the Corniche d'Or road that links Saint Raphael and Cannes. There are views of Lérins Island and the wide sweep of the Bay of Cannes, with the mountains as a magnificent backdrop. The landscape is colourful as there are large red rocky outcrops of the Massif d'Esterel. This beach is perfect for relaxing and doing very little, but take your snorkel and flippers as there are numerous fish including sea bream and rock fish and scurrying crabs to observe in their marine habitat.


Join the Jet Set at the côte d'azur

It is fun to join the Jet Set for the day, or at least enjoy some 'people watching' and what better location than the iconic Paloma Beach where all the stars like to head. This was a favourite with the artist Picasso and is named after his wife, Paloma Picasso. Much of the beach is designated private but there is a public section where you can hire a deckchair and lounge in the sunshine. If you find after a while that you want a taste of the action, there are water sports to try including water skiing and jet skiing and of course, there is the famous creamy coloured beach club that serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine. Plage Pampelonne at Saint-Tropez is another beach that has long been favoured by the stars. The beach stretches for five kilometres and has two exclusive beach clubs where advance booking is essential. The beach is divided into five named sections which include a nudist area and the 'Patch sector' for beach lovers with limited mobility.

Or find a quieter corner.

Whilst the beaches of Saint-Tropez can get very busy in the summer, the lovely beaches of Sainte-Maxime situated just across the bay, remain quieter and the main sandy beach – Casino Beach - is within walking distance of the town. Situated right next to the marina, Casino Beach has fine sand which is kept really tidy. The beach has showers, a restaurant and water sports and importantly, offers good access for those with reduced mobility. The town's other main beach is Plage de la Nartelle which is a great family beach with two kilometres of sand, sun parasols and water sports. The private beach close by is considered very chic, as are the little coves of Pointe des Sarinaux. Further along the coast is a lovely narrow sandy beach called Plage des Eléphants. The beach gets its name because Jean and Cécile de Brunhoff, creators of the popular children's character, Babar, used to live in a villa overlooking the bay. If it is peace and serenity that you are seeking, somewhere like Les Issambres is the perfect choice as it is small and has a handful of quiet beaches. Situated 24 kilometres from Saint-Tropez and 13 km west of Fréjus, it is the favoured destination by those 'in the know'. Its main beach is Plage de la Gaillarde which stretches 150 metres along the coast. There is a place to rent beach equipment and in the summer it is supervised, but basically it is just a fine sandy beach with beautiful water for swimming. The other beaches in the area are smaller but all have fine sand and of course, the sea for a tempting dip.

A beach with character.

Cape Taillat is a rather wild beach in Ramatuelle that is great fun as it is situated on a narrow promontory of land between La Croix Valmer and Ramatuelle. The beach on one side of the split is beautifully sandy and on the other pebbly. There is always a light breeze – which is pleasant, but don't forget to keep applying sun tan lotion. There is a 30-minute walk to reach the beach from Plage de L'Escalet via the coastal path – and you could well be tempted to stay in one of the small coves along the way instead! These are often popular with nudists.


Or a rich history...

If you are heading towards Monaco, do build in some time to stop at Mala Beach in Cap d'Ail. Access is either down about 100 steps or along what is commonly known as the ‘Chemin des Douaniers’ (Path of the customs officers). The effort is well worth it as it is a pretty beach surrounded by cliffs. There is a large private part that is sandy and has two tempting restaurants to relax over a meal and cool drink and there is a large pebbly public area. Swimming is good here and it is fun to swim out to the rocks or around into one of the neighbouring bays. If you prefer somewhere quieter, continue along the cliff path as there are several quite coves. The Larvotto Beach in Monaco offers a sharp contrast to the Grand Prix circuit and the lively casinos and has a relaxing tempo. La Note Bleue is an attractive jazz club that is open all day with a menu of good fusion food. In Antibes, the public beaches are extremely popular and Plage de la Salis is definitely one of them, as it is well known for its beautiful white sand beach and good views of the old town. In July and August it really does feel like peak season and can get a little too hectic, but during the rest of the year it is simply lovely. There is a very special and intriguing beach at Beaulieu-sur-Mer called La Petite Afrique – Little Africa. The reason for this is that this area has its own microclimate with some of the highest temperatures in France. The setting is very exotic with a large beach with fine white sand and fringed by an array of lush exotic trees. It is the perfect place to stretch out on a towel and day dream.


Beach life – perfect all day through at the french riviera.

With so many different beaches in the Cote d'Azur, it is fun to explore a number to find the one that suits you best for daytime relaxation or the adrenalin rush from good water sports. Each of the beaches takes on a completely different character as the dawn breaks. A stroll along the sand gives a great feeling of peace and solitude, with just the sea birds and fishing boats as company. At the other end of the day, as the sun begins to sink, the beach is a perfect place for a sunset stroll with two glasses and a bottle of wine, to enjoy the full magic of the Cote d'Azur...