The delights of the beach: a golden paradise

The delights of the beach: a golden paradise

If you're looking for a sandy or pebble beach stretching as far as the eye can see, a secret cove tucked away from view, or a beach with gently lapping water or invigorating waves and tides, the diversity of France's coastline is immense. Around France there are almost 2,000km of delightful beaches (covering a third of the country's entire coastline) spread across 200 resorts, including those which are part of the Club Littoral; some of these resorts, such as the area around Le Cap d'Agde, boast as many as a dozen or so beaches. Other delightful examples are the beaches at Saint-Jean-de-Monts, the 8km strip of white sand in La Baule, and the 15km line of dunes in Biscarrosse (Landes).
Irrespective of their location along the English Channel, the Atlantic or the Mediterranean, they all have their own individual style, and provide the perfect setting for a relaxed and unforgettable holiday.   

Something for everyone

Whether your preference is for basking in the sun on an isolated beach or building a sandcastle with your kids on a large and busy public beach, France's coastline has just the beach for you. While some visitors prefer peace and quiet and natural surroundings and are prepared to walk to a beach without facilities where access can be difficult, perhaps via a rocky path, others prefer a beach with a full range of facilities: showers, beach clubs offering a choice of activities and games, volleyball, pedalo hire, and areas set aside for water skiing etc.

Safety regulations
Supervised public beaches with a variety of facilities have lifeguard stations (manned by lifeguards with a national qualification), information boards and flags indicating the swimming conditions depending on the strength of the wind and waves
green = ideal conditions
yellow = average conditions/care required
red = bathing inadvisable or prohibited
However, in our coastal regions visitors should always exercise due care and attention, whatever the conditions. Dangers can vary from "baïnes" (strong outgoing currents formed in natural depressions forming in sand beneath the waves) along the Aquitaine coast, tidal ranges in Normandy and Brittany.

Cleanliness and hygiene
As a general rule, it is not permitted to take a dog on to public beaches with facilities for visitors, nor are visitors allowed to sleep on beaches overnight. In addition, visitors are asked to use dustbins and to take rubbish from their picnics home with them.
Water quality is checked by the public authorities and often analysed by a separate independent body, the "Blue Flag" organisation.

Taking children to the beach
The best times to go to the beach with kids are in the morning or the evening so that you avoid the crowds as well as the strongest rays of the sun which are too intense for children's skin. Don't forget to take sandals (hot sand can burn the feet) and a sunshade. Above all, make sure your children are well protected against the elements: sunscreen re-applied at regular intervals, a cap or hat, a tee-shirt to slip on, and sunglasses with a high protection factor. Numerous coastal resorts have been awarded the Station Kid or Famille Plus "service and quality" labels.

Beach attendants: available for your "basic needs"

Some top-secret beaches...

In Southern Brittany 
The Plage de Port-Donnant, on the west side of this jewel of an island which is part of the Iles du Ponant (Western Islands) association, faces directly out into the Atlantic and is renowned for its magnificent and wild scenery.

This charming small town and marina at the mouth of the Odet boasts 6 pretty beaches, including the Plage du Trez, Plage de la Pointe Saint-Gilles and Plage du Letty.

On the Mediterranean
La Ciotat
The small Figuerolles calanque (inlet), located on the edge of this Provençal port town is the perfect place to get away from it all!

Impressively perched on a hill in the Maures range (Var département), this town extends along the Mediterranean, where its main sights include the Brégançon creek and the calanque (inlet) of La Tripe.

Ile de Porquerolles 
One of the "Iles d'Or" (Golden Islands), the largest islands in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Porquerolles is a Mediterranean paradise with a distinctly exotic appearance. On the opposite side of the island, but well worth the short walk, is the delightful and somewhat inappropriately named Crique de la Galère (Hardship Creek)!

If you prefer to get way from the "festive" and "jet set" ambience of the Baie de Pampelonne, why not head for the quieter Plage de la Moutte.

The small Plage du Gaou is located in an unspoilt natural setting opposite the tiny island of Les Embiez.

Around Le Cap d'Agde
The area made up of Le Cap (the resort), Le Grau (the port) and the town of Agde has around a dozen beaches, including the Plage de Saint-Vincent - a small beach nestled in a cove to the east of the Le Grau d'Agde.

Le Grau-du-Roi and Port-Camargue
Here you'll find a picturesque fishing port, a huge marina and superb and extensive beaches with, to the east, towards the heart of the Camargue, the wild dunes of l'Espiguette, part of which are for designated for use by naturists.

The "capital" of the Haute-Corse, a port, and a city surrounded by beaches, which include the pebbly Plage de Grigione, 2km to the north, and the fine sandy Plage de Marana, 5km to the south.