Beaches of the Cote d'Azur
During our last four-and-a-half months in Provence, we logged many miles in Teva's, sunscreen and swimsuits to lay out at the beautiful beaches the Cote d'Azur is famous for. While we only made it to a fraction of the coastline, here are our notes on the sandy spots we visited.
Le Lavandou Beach:
We walked here about 3-4 times a week and it's probably our favorite. Sandy, long and lined with shops, beach-hut restaurants and vendors, this beach is perfect for swimming, paddle ball or just soaking up some rays. Also, it's the least touristy beach we've been to, which means you don't have to worry about not finding room for your towel or umbrella.
Separated from Le Lavandou only by a port, this beach is perfect for kids. It's wide, shallow, covered in powdery sand (they import sand from the Sahara!), and during the summer you can find volleyball nets, kid-centric events, and tons of vendors.
Plage Saint Clare:
Voted the best beach in France in 2010, it's incredibly picturesque and what most people imagine when they think of a French Riviera beach. We tended to stay away because there are only few restaurants, and it was much windier than the other beaches. However, the white powder sand and palm trees instantly evoke tropical paradise.
I mentioned it in this post, but the beaches here were very disappointing. The sparse and rocky coastline wasn't worth the visit and made it clear that the way to do Saint Tropez is not on the sand, but on a yacht. We learned later that there are better beaches a few kilometers outside the city near Saint Maxime, but we didn't get that far.
We were only here for an afternoon, but of course, we had to stop by the beach. It was obviously man-made and oddly situated behind a rock levy with two 'coastlines' on the left and right. The beach was small but the sand was nice, there were packed ping-pong tables, volleyball courts and snack-shops within a few steps of the sand, and you could tell it was definitely a hotspot for summer-campers.
Hello Hollywood! We went here briefly when we went to the Film Festival in May and it was pretty busy. This was a long beach, broken up by swanky restaurants and bars. To us, the beach here seemed geared toward 20-30-somethings in designer suits rather than families or beach bums, but we thought it had a fun, happening party vibe. Also, there were lots of yachts to ogle at, and plenty of people/celeb watching opportunities.
Located right next to the harbor on the Isle of Porquerolles, but tucked back a bit, it's the most popular beach on the island. It's super sandy, but the main drawback was the seaweed along the waterline. There was A LOT, but once you got through it, the water was shallow, warm and clear with lots of chartered catamarans parked just beyond the swim area. There were a few restaurants, but no shops or vendors, so we opted for a kebab-picnic and reading time.
L'Oustaou de Dei:
This small, hidden pebbly beach is located directly across from the harbor on the Island of Porquerolles. It's much less travelled than the Plage d'Argent, but there are still a few bikers and walkers who stumble upon it and stay for lunch. Since it's shallow and has a rocky, cave-lined coastline, we saw quite a few people exploring with snorkles . We recommend taking a picnic, a quick dip and drying off on one of the surrounding rocks.
We loved this beach, but beware its rocky! We definitely recommend flip-flops and towels or mats to make sunbathing much more enjoyable. One of the best things about the beaches in Nice are the views, restaurants, and the proximity to Old Town and the Promenade. Another thing to note is that around dusk this beach becomes a hang-out for young people; many bring wine and music to the shoreline for a beachside party.