The Cote d’Azur is well-known for its chic beach-side resorts, spectacular stretches of idyllic beaches and colour of the Mediterranean Sea with its various shades of shimmering blue. It’s little wonder the Riviera attracts millions of tourists to its shores each summer.
Sometimes there is nothing better than leaving the buzz of the crowds behind in search of a secluded sandy spot. Whether it’s for quiet communion with nature or to spend quality time with your partner or family, we have curated a list of some of the best peaceful beaches in the South of France, all within a two-hour drive of Parc du Cap.
Undoubtedly one of the prettiest beaches on this stretch of coast, it was here that 1920s power couple Gerald and Sara Murphy introduced their glamorous friends Hemingway, Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald to the concept of soaking up the rays in the summer months. Silky white sands slope into crystal-clear, gentle waters and the rocky headland is a snorkeller’s heaven to explore. The views are panoramic, made up of the Bay of Angels looking out towards Nice, the immense Alps towering over the coastline, and the sumptuous array of villas and hotels nestling amongst the fragrant pines.
During the summer months (May to mid-October), most of Garoupe beach is commandeered by private beach clubs – Plage Keller, Petite Plage and Plage Joseph – who have a polite ban on selfies for some degree of peace. With a couple of small areas reserved for the public during the summer, the ultimate experience of relaxation comes with visiting this sophisticated beach during the off-season.
A favourite of the locals, this understated beach is situated opposite glitzy Cannes, between the port and the castle Napoule. The breakers on this scenic beach help form a pool-like expanse of shallow turquoise waters which results in an exceptional bathing experience. In the summer the castle provides welcome shade on this wide sandy beach, as do the nearby cafés and parasols making it ideal for families. Along the castle there is a coastal path which leads to another small, secret beach directly at the foot of the castle. Get there early though as places are limited!
Camp Long Beach, also known as Tiki Beach (named after a little restaurant there), is a beautiful sandy beach east of Saint-Raphaël on Cap Estérel. Surrounded by red rocks, the beach is a 150-metre, heavily indented stretch of coastline. The result is a glimmering natural pool protected from waves, making this a peaceful spot to steal away from the crowds to read a book on the rocks facing the sea, or idle in the sun on a lazy afternoon. This beach is a closely guarded secret for all those lucky enough to visit.
1-hour 30-minute drive
Not far from Saint Tropez, the charming fishing village of Cavalaire-sur-Mer has a beautiful, long beach, but explore a little further and you’ll discover a slice of paradise in the unspoilt beach of Bonporteau. Here you’ll enjoy a diverse display of wild flora, including eucalyptus, tamarisk trees and Washingtonia palm trees, and the waters are particularly clear and crystalline, with fantastic underwater fauna and flora. Sheltered by pines, sit back and enjoy the gentle breeze and sounds of the lapping sea whilst enjoying a glass of Provençal rosé.
1-hour 45-minute drive
Plage du Grand Jardin is close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, one of the most charming villages in Provence, with picture perfect views at every turn. Most people flock to Plage de l’Estagnol 500m away, which is often compared to a Caribbean beach and therefore attracts larger crowds, making Plage du Grand Jardin a hidden gem. Lesser known, it is as beautiful as Plage de l’Estagnol and is well worth the walk to enjoy the calm, uncrowded beach with clear white sands and azure waters.
1-hour 45-minute drive
Located on a nature reserve, reaching Bastide Blanche beach is only possible by sea or a half hour walk from Escalet Beach. This means even in the busy summer months this beach is an oasis of tranquillity. Pack a picnic and make a day of it on this luxuriously long sandy stretch, taking time to enjoy the quieter side of the South of France as you relax at the sight of the shimmering crystal waters of the Mediterranean.