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Setting sail for France’s legendary beaches

beach

Summer is finally here, and with it an increasingly strong desire for white sandy beaches and the sound of waves lapping the shore. But you don’t need to travel far to experience a beautiful beach… France has many dreamlike spots along its coasts! And if you are short on inspiration for your next adventure, we have concocted a picture-postcard list of some of the country’s legendary beaches.

 

Palombaggia, near Porto-Vecchio

In brief

Picture the scene: a warm, crystal-clear sea, red rocks leading down to the turquoise water, intensely-green, fragrant stone pines, and delicate white sand. Does this sound like an idyllic destination? Welcome to Palombaggia beach in Corsica!

After sunbathing

Lots of beach bars and restaurants, each more charming than the next, are open for drinks or lunch in the shade of the reed screens. An excellent way to make time in this enchanting setting last a little longer.

Did you know?

Palombaggia beach won the 2019 Travelers’ Choice Award, as voted by members of the Trip Advisor tourist website in the Most Beautiful Beaches in France category.

 

La Grande Plage and La Côte des Basques, in Biarritz

In brief

“La Grande,” as it is known to connoisseurs, is truly majestic. Located right in the city center, the beach is framed by the iconic Rocher de la Vierge on one side and a beautiful white lighthouse on the other. But if you prefer surfing to sunbathing, then head to the legendary Côte des Basques, the beach that saw the birth of surfing in France and offers views over the Spanish mountains on the horizon.

After sunbathing

Head away from the bustle of Biarritz to discover the terroir and customs of the Basque Country. Play a game of Basque pelota or make a makhila, a traditional, bespoke, handmade walking stick that is nothing short of artwork. Alternatively, stay in town and indulge in a beret chocolate cake or a Basque cherry pie!

Did you know?

You’re sure to see lots of stripes in Biarritz, including on the iconic round tents on La Grande Plage and on traditional home linens. Today they feature a range of colors, but were originally in blue and arranged in sets of seven to symbolize the Basque provinces.

 

Pampelonne, in Ramatuelle

In brief

Pampelonne Bay lies a stone’s throw from Saint-Tropez and is synonymous with elegance and luxury. You will simple adore the setting if you enjoy relaxing in trendy outfits and celebrity spotting. And, of course, there are more than three miles of sublime, white sandy beaches!

After sunbathing

Stroll through the narrow, winding streets of Ramatuelle, a charming, picturesque village build on the hillside. This former fortified town still has its ramparts intact, and offers breathtaking views over the surrounding vineyards.

Did you know?

It was thanks to Roger Vadim’s 1955 movie And God Created Woman starring Brigitte Bardot that Pampelonne Bay became the renowned, jet-set favorite it is today!

 

La Plage des Dames, in Noirmoutier

In brief

Found on the island of Noirmoutier in the Vendée département, the long Plage des Dames is lined with adorable little white cabins and a magnificent forest stretching beyond. A quite atypical backdrop for a beach! Whether with family or friends, everyone can enjoy the panoramic views sheltered from the wind thanks to the beach’s east-facing location.

After sunbathing

A pleasant walk through the Bois de la Chaize forest just next to the beach offers a chance to cool down while you discover the incredible local fauna and flora. Put on your walking shoes or get on your bike and set off to explore the forest paths, majestic evergreen oaks, and astonishing ever-blooming wattles.

Did you know?

The star of La Plage des Dames is none other than its famous wooden pontoon. This pretty “landing” was built in 1889 to welcome passengers from the mainland when sea bathing began to take off. The structure has since been fully renovated but remains a leading symbol of the island’s history.

 

Etretat Beach

In brief

Etretat beach owes its international reputation to its famous white chalk cliffs surrounding it. The view is sure to delight everyone, as will the long, inviting pebble beach that blends perfectly into the spectacular setting.

After sunbathing

Don’t miss the old indoor market in Etretat, which is one of the finest in Normandy. You lose all track of time as you wander through its countless little shops brimming with treasures from local artisanry to regional specialties.

Did you know?

Many artists have spent hours painting the cliffs of Etretat and drawing inspiration from their raw charm. The first was Monet, who completed some 50 paintings before other artists followed suit.

 

This list is far from exhaustive. Now it’s time to make your way to the French coast to discover even more legendary beaches and enjoy unforgettable moments in the sun. Have a great vacation!