Located in western Europe, surrounded by four bodies of water (North Atlantic Ocean, The English Channel, The North Sean and The Mediterranean) and has average summer temperatures of 28 – 35°C, there is no wonder why France has so many fantastic coastal destinations, great beaches and pulls in over 89 Million tourists each year.
In this post, we have picked out what we believe to be the 10 best coastal destinations to visit in France but i am sure there are many more. So whether you are looking for a new holiday destination or inspiration for a holiday within driving distance (dependant on location!), this list has you covered.
Set in the French Riviera, with a Mediterranean climate and average temperatures of 28 – 30°C in the summer, Cannes is a great entry to the list and somewhere that is well worth considering for a getaway, or a day trip if you are nearby. Famous for the film festival and the Boulevard de la Croisette, which runs along the seafront which hosts many great beaches, boutique shops, restaurants and hotels. Perfect weekend getaway if no expense is spared and food, drink and hotel stays can be very pricey.
The second city on France’s south coast to have made the list, a great mix of a city break and a coastal destination. The city has plenty of sights, a lot of great architecture and some fantastic restaurants then within walking distance, you reach the coast where you can relax on the beach, take part in water sports or explore the rocky coast. We recommend checking out the Old Port, the Château d’If (a fortress and former prison) and for museum lovers – MuCEM – Museum of Civilizations of Europe. You can find plenty of tours and activities HERE. Hotels can be booked for a reasonable price and can be found on the link opposite.
Next, is a city that itself is not on the coast, instead on the Canal de la Robine. However, not far away there is a coastal resort called Narbonne Plage which is easily accessible from the city so you get the best of both worlds in one trip. For a weekend break, you can spend some time walking the canal in the city and enjoying its Gothic architecture, tourist attractions and restaurants. Then head to Narbonne Plage and enjoy some water sports and relaxation on award winning beaches and enjoy the summer temperatures of 28 – 30°+ Celsius. With prices very reasonable for the south of France, you could have a great week based in Narbonne, taking the occasional day trip to neighbouring towns.
Our next choice takes us away from the south of France and to the north-west of France looking out onto the English Channel. Saint-Malo has a lot of history scattered throughout and islands to explore, making it a hotspot for tourists who love to learn and love to explore. Here you can visit islands such as Le Grand Bey and Cézembre, explore the towns rich history through museums, fortresses and castles and take the family to one of the biggest and most popular Aquariums in Europe where you can even tour ‘underwater’, at Grand Aquarium Saint Malo. As well as the abundance of tourist attractions that are there, don’t forget to check out the fantastic beaches, with at least 10 to choose from, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to spending time by the water. All of that and only a 7 hour drive from the UK (Depending where your location is!), we definitely recommend a visit!
Between Cannes and Nice on the French Riviera, you will find Antibes. This charming old town, has street markets such as Marché provençal (An old-world street market), streets lined with cafes and unique restaurants and great architecture. As well as this, it also is packed to the max with tourist attractions that can keep you coming back time and time again. While you are there, we recommend going to see some original Picasso paintings at the Musée Picasso, Marineland to watch a dolphin show and see the shark tank, visit the historic fort of Fort Carré, where you can get some breath-taking views of the Riviera and take a trip down to the Cap d’Antibes peninsula, a hotspot for celebrities who often use this unique and beautiful location as a getaway. On top of all this, with beautiful coastal paths, great hiking trails and a golden beach (In tourist season, the beach can become very busy), we definitely label Antibes as a must visit.
5. Bayeux, Normandy
Our first entry in the top 5 is not on the coast itself, but a great central point to some amazing beaches along the north-west coast. As well as this, you are only a bus trip or short drive away (15 minutes) from the d-day beaches and many other historical sights from the World war. Bayeux has some great architecture and has some great historical sites, hotels and restaurants so whether you are looking for a getaway close to some great beaches and tourist attractions or a base to stay if you are visiting Normandy for a historical vacation, Bayeux is perfect. Looking to check out some great beaches for relaxation nearby? We recommend Courseulles-sur-mer and Omaha beach. Also, as it is only 5 hours away from the UK by car (Depending on location) you do not have far to travel for a great getaway with a twist. Check out hotels and tours below.
At number 4 we travel back to the Mediterranean to Nice. A popular holiday destination for French and foreign tourists alike. Sat on the French Riviera, you can enjoy the climate, beaches, restaurants and tourist attractions that you would expect for this part of the world, but at a much more reasonable cost than other places along this coast line (You are not sacrificing quality either). Famous for its white beaches and clear blue waters, its carnival and its old town, this checks all the boxes for a great coastal resort. We recommend you check out Castle Hill historic park, the Art Museums as Nice is famous worldwide for these, the restaurants in the old town and the Promenade des Anglais where you will feel like you are in the Riviera. Plus with an International Airport on the doorstep, getting here from anywhere is a breeze.
3. Ajaccio, Corsica
The next place is the main town on the island of Corsica, and before you question its legitimacy for this spot on the list, Corsica is one of the 18 states that make up France! The island is one of the biggest Mediterranean islands and sits just off the coast of Italy so benefits from that great climate. You can get there by catching a ferry from mainland France or via plane. The birthplace of Napoleon, Ajaccio, makes third on our list because of its location, climate, history and its stunning beaches and clear blue waters. This unusual holiday destination is definitely worth the visit and the ultimate paradise for holiday-makers looking to relax, explore and soak up some French history and architecture. The only downside is, unless you are flying from Luxembourg or France, you will need to lay over to get there as direct flights are rare, but don’t let this put you off because it will be well worth the journey!
Found on the south coast of France, just a couple of hours drive from the Spanish border, is our runner-up Agde. This town is full of tourist attractions for all ages from Aquarium Marin du Cap d’Agde, Luna Park and many water parks for the younger ones (Physically and at heart!) and museums, architecture and an array of great bars and restaurants for the adults. As well as all that, choose between grabbing a hotel, B&B or camping with a choice of great camping grounds on offer. The beaches in Agde are fantastic and nothing less than spectacular, from beaches with volcanic sand to white sandy beaches that host an array of water sports, you wont get bored! Agde also has ‘du village naturiste’, a naturist village that has private beaches, clubs and restaurants for people that love to walk around in their birthday suit, its open for all so if you enjoy this or fancy a different type of holiday, why not?, and if this is not for you, we are sure the rest of Agde will be, we definitely recommend you choose this fantastic town for your next vacation, it will not disappoint.
Our winner is the French Riviera town of Saint-Tropez. Full of beach bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and some of the best beaches you will find worldwide. Famous for its history, wine and high-profile lifestyle, Saint-Tropez is definitely worth the visit and after you have, will want to come back time and time again. Activities that we recommend include taking a wine tasting tour, watching the day pass you by while soaking up the Riviera sun at the beach bars, attempting to water-ski on the crystal clear blue waters, learning the towns history at the many museums, visit the old town and eat at traditional restaurants and if its a family visit, take the kids to the water parks to cool off from the average summer temperatures of 30°C. With all of this along with fantastic beaches such as Plage de l’amour, Plage de Tahiti, Plage des Graniers and Pampelonne (Pampelonne beach has some fantastic beach bars and nightlife) and at a much more reasonable cost than it sounds, Saint-Tropez definitely deserves top spot for coastal destinations in France and a trip there is a must!
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Image references = Image of Cannes – pixabay.com, Image of Marseille – pikist.com, Image of Narbonne – pikist.com, Image of Saint-Male – pixabay.com, Image of Antibes – flickr.com, Image of Bayeux – pixabay.com, Image of Nice – flickr.com, Image of Ajaccio – flickr.com, Image of Agde – flickr.com, Image of Saint-Tropez – Wikimedia.Commons, Feature Image – pxfuel.com