My favourite beaches near Nice
Visiting this region, you will soon realise why it is considered a privilege to live here: a variety beaches, islands, hills and mountains all at easy reach! The Maritimes Alps is a region that you can experience 365 days per year thanks to the mild climate; during spring and autumn is even more pleasant to spend time on the beach without the crowds and it’s the best period to walk along coastal paths and sunbathe.
Nice is surrounded by places of exceptional beauties such as the Cap Ferrat peninsula, Villefranche sur Mer, the Lerins Islands, Cap d’Ail many others.
Here is my personal selection of my favourite beaches on the French Riviera I normally go to by public transports.
1. Mala Beach – Cap d’Ail
One of the wildest beaches in the area is the Mala beach, surrounded by limestone cliffs and vegetation one could think of being in some exotic country. This pebble beaches is perfect for snorkelling due to the presence of a rocky seabed and fishes.
How to get there: take the train and stop at Cap d’Ail. Follow the directions towards the “sentier du littoral”, the coastal paths passing below the tunnel and head West towards the Mala Beach. The path links the beach to the Plage Marquet in Monaco.
Facilities: there is a private beach, lifeguards service and a restaurant with toilets.
2. Villefranche sur Mer
The bay of Villefranche is one of the most popular and photographed of the region. This thick sand beach make people dream for its turquoise waters well visible from train passengers lurking below the cliff from their train windows. Definitely one of the best panoramic train stops you will ever see, Villefranche sur Mer can be very crowded during summer since it’s a location cruise stop by frequently.
Walking towards the Darse harbour you will come across smaller pebble beaches with crystal clear waters and they will surely be less frequented as they are a bit further away from the city centre.
How to get there: take the train and stop in Villefranhe sur Mer. From Nice take the bus 15 and stop at “Octroi”, then follow the directions to go towards the Old Town.
Facilities: the main beach is close to the city centre and the train station so there are restaurants, showers and toilets nearby. There is also a private beach available during summer.
3. Plage des Fosses – St. Jean Cap Ferrat
It’s hard to pick the best beach in St. Jean Cap Ferrat as there are so many! I usually go to the Plage des Fosses or Fossettes nearby since it’s the starting point to two coastal paths leading to secluded coves and turquoise waters. The beach has crystal waters and its in between two small peninsulas: St. Hospice and Cap Ferrat. Take the St. Hospice costal paths if you prefer to sunbathe and snorkel near rocky beaches.
Head to the 2h coastal path encircling the Cap Ferrat to reach even wilder and secluded little beaches immersed in nature, especially on the West side after the lighthouse.
How to get there: take the bus 15 from Nice and stop at St. Jean Cap Ferrat Port at the end. Otherwise take the train and stop at Beaulieu sur Mer, then follow the direction to the Plage des Fourmies and from here follow the scenic costal path leading you to the village of St. Jean and then the Plage des Fossettes.
Facilities: Plage des Fossettes is 15 minutes walking from the village of St. Jean where you will find restaurants and toilets. Before taking the stairs to go down to the beach, there is a food truck selling snacks and refreshments shaded by maritime pines with a lovely sea view and a fountain of drinkable water. Once you start the coastal path to the Cap Ferrat or St. Hospice peninsula there are no toilets of facilities whatsoever.
4. Plage du Midi – Cannes
People loving a sandy proper golden beach will need to head to Cannes. The Plage du Midi is besides the old harbour where the ferries leave to reach the Lerins islands. This beach is often very crowded during summer because it features crystal waters and it’s much better in terms of quality of seabed and sand than the Croisette one.
Running parallel to the long beach extending up until Cannes la Bocca, is beautiful and long promenade dotted with kiosks selling drinks and ice-creams and lush palms! One could almost think of being in Beverly Hills! This glitzy promenade is mirrored by residences, hotels and restaurants on the other side.
How to get there: Take the train and stop in Cannes. Then head towards the seaside promenade and go West towards the old harbour. The beach is after the ferry docks.
Facilities: the beach features showers and there are restaurants on the other side of the road.
5. Ile de St. Marguerite
This 7 km long islands is only ten minutes by ferry away from Cannes but it feels a world away: vehicles are forbidden and the islands feature a a fortress where the mysterious “iron mask” was once imprisoned and a little restaurant. The island is a paradise for snorkelling and walking. Bring you own picnic and bathe in the secluded coves with turquoise waters. During summer there will be many boats around the island but it’s generally quieter than any other beach in the region.
How to get there: take the train and stop in Cannes, then head to the harbour and take the ferry (10 minutes ride)
Facilities: there is only one restaurant and public toilets near the harbour. The island is wild so bring a picnic and plenty of water.
6. Criques de l’Aiguille
Théoule sur Mer is the entry door to the spectacular Esterel National Park famous for its volcanic red rocks and the Mediterranean scenery. This little village features sandy and pebbly beaches with a transparent waters. Walking towrads the Plage de l’Aiguille, follow the directions for the Aiguille Natural Reserve leading to a woodland footpaths, sea views and to a scenic beach with a beautiful arch. There are many little coves and places for snorkelling: an underwater snorkelling path has been opened in the last few years to allow the visitors to see fishes and the beauty of marine life in this particular area.
How to get there: take the train to Cannes, then change taking the train heading to les Arcs de Draguignan and stop in Théoule sur Mer.
Facilities: there are restaurants and toilets in Théoule sur Mer but not in the Natural Reserve of the Aiguille.
7. Plage de la Garoupe
Crystal waters, soft and thin sand, to get this type of beach you need to go to Antibes or Cannes area. Situated on the Cap d’A,tibes, the Garoupe plage is mainly occupied by a private beach but you can still bathe on the public beach: just remmeber to arrive early. alternative take the costal path and swim in the little rocky coves that you will find along the trail or at the Eden Rock beach (pebbles) at the end of the footpath.
How to get there: take the train and stop in Antibes, then take bus number two and stop near the “Plage de la Garoupe”.
Facilities: there are a few restaurants near the Garoupe beach, a parking and toilets.