The best beaches in Nice

July 18, 2012 in Europe,France,Places

Confession: I spent a week in Nice and didn’t do one cultural activity, unless you count drinking rosé and eating pissaladiere. Instead, I went to the beach. Instead, I went to the beach. You can find an quite a few accommodations in Nice that are close to the numerous beaches that are available. I went to beaches with pebbles, beaches with sand, beaches with diving boards, beaches with ritzy restaurants. I worked on my tan and relished in the glory of French culture that doesn’t bat an eye if you take off your bikini top.

Jumping off the diving board at La Reserve, Le Plongeoir in Nice, France

The weather cooperated with brilliantly sunny skies, and I left on the TGV to Paris feeling incredibly more relaxed and looking much browner. The beach scene in Nice can be a bit complicated–it’s a mess of public and private, stones and sand, crashing waves and calm inlets. Here’s my guide to the best of Nice beaches: 

Beaulieu-sur-mer beach plage in the French Riviera, France

Beaulieu-Sur-Mer

It’s about a 25-minute bus ride from the center of Nice (take the 81), and the bus drops off right across the street. The beach is teeny-tiny pebbles, almost bordering on sand. There are two private beaches, but there’s also a large stretch of public beach. It’s a bit quieter and a ritzier crowd than the main Nice beaches, and the protected cove means there are barely any waves. The perfect afternoon stop after a classy lunch at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

Villefranche beach plage on a Saturday in the French Riviera, France

Villefranche

The most popular option for a “sandy” beach outside of Nice: it’s only 20 minutes on the bus, or a super quick motorbike ride. It’s not actually sand, but rather very small pebbles: the best of both worlds, it’s more comfortable to lie on than pebbles but it doesn’t get into everything you own. There are a few restaurants right across from the beach to pick up a sandwich or ice cream. It’s about a 15-minute walk down plenty of stairs and through the Old Town from the bus stop (Bus 81 or 100, stop is Octroi), but the train drops off right above the beach. One of my favorites if I only have a few hours to spare.

La Reserve beach in Nice, France on a sunny day

La Reserve

This was by far my favorite beach discovery while in Nice for a few reasons: it’s within walking distance, there’s a ladder so that you don’t have to slip over the pebbles while getting in the water and it’s super local. Right past the port, it also features an awesome (although technically off-limits) diving board–shown in the first photo in this post. Watching the reckless teenage boys shimmy up to the top and then jump off is afternoon entertainment in itself. There aren’t a ton of eating options right around here, so pick something up before you go. The only downside is that it IS typical Nice pebbles, which aren’t the most comfortable to lie on. To get there, just keep following the sea past the port and keep an eye out for the diving board.

Cap d'Ail, Eden and Mala Plage beach in French Riviera, France

Cap d’Ail

Featuring two of the ritzier private beaches (Eden Plage and Plage de la Mala), Cap d’Ail is the last stop before Monaco. It takes about 45 minutes to get here by bus, but can be a bit quicker on the train. If you take the bus, there are A LOT of stairs to climb down to reach the beach–and it’s even more painful on the walk back up after a day full of swim and sun. However, it’s absolutely gorgeous and one of my favorite beaches to swim in. It’s the same not-quite-sand, not-quite-stone mix of Villefranche. The private beaches have delicious but expensive restaurants: much easier to pick up something from the bakery and grocery store in the center of town before descending.

Coco Beach plage rocks in Nice, French Riviera, France

Coco Beach

Right past La Reserve, Coco Beach is just as rocky and pebbly without the conveniences of the ladder and diving board. It’s still gorgeous and the water is crystal clear–depending on the day, it can be uber crowded or completely deserted. Good if you can snag one of the large rocks to sun yourself on. To get there, just keep walking past the port.

Sandy beach on Nice public beach plage, French Riviera, France

Nice

My tip for Nice beaches: splurge on a private beach. The roughly 20 Euros you’ll spend on a chaise lounge will be well worth it for the comfort from the pebbles and the added security for your bags when you’re in the sea. There are toilets and changing rooms, as well as restaurants and waiters who will bring chilled drinks to your chair. If you’re on a budget for food, leave your towel on your chair and sneak out to grab a sandwich from a nearby bakery. My favorite is Le Sporting, but I’ve also heard excellent things about the food at HI.

What’s your favorite beach in Nice or surrounds? 

For bus information, check out Lignes d’azur; for train information, head to SNCF.

  • AliciaC

    Ooh these all look SO wonderful!!  Tiny pebbles instead of sand? That is something I’d love to experience!

  • I love this guide, and wish I had it when I spent a summer in Nice studying french. Most of the time, I went to la Reserve!! Cap d’Ali seems really nice though, the color of the water…. ah… I want to go back!

  • Looks like it was tough work, doing such thorough research for this post 😉

  • You took some beautiful pictures… nice looks like paradise, maybe a little crowded.

  • Love that diving picture!

  • Oh how I long to be back in the south of France! … and I will be this fall! but only for 3 days. Until I find my toes dug deep in the pebble/sand, I will make do with these lovely photos :)

  • Riz

    Love the backdive photo! :) super cool!

  • camorose

    Tiny pebbles are great, but the large pebbles are the problem–can be uber uncomfortable until you get used to it!

  • camorose

    September is probably the best time to visit the beaches…go back! Absolutely loved La Reserve, so you didn’t miss out too much :)

  • camorose

    The sacrifices we make for our readers.

  • camorose

    Hooray! You’ll have so much fun!

  • camorose

    Merci!

  • Cap d’Ail is my favorite of the ones of these I went to last year — the sheer cliffs rising out of the water are just so gorgeous.

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  • camorose

    Absolutely LOVE Cap d’Ail–just hate the steps going down (and back up!) to get there!

  • This is my first time reading this blog. Definitely won’t be my last though, really enjoyed it.

  • Great list, my favourite missing though – Paloma plage on Cap Ferrat

  • camorose

    Ohhhh don’t think I’ve checked that one out–next time!

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  • Perfect! This post just got me ssoooo excited about my week-long trip to Nice in two weeks! Thanks for the tips :)

  • camorose

    Have the BEST time! It’s amazing there!

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  • Natalie

    Hi! I don’t know if you still visit this page, but I am heading to nice for a few days this weekend. I want to get to Paloma beach but am not sure how much it costs. What is your very favourite public beach?

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  • camorose

    Eek apologies–I’m not familiar with Paloma beach! My favorite public beach is La Reserve or Villefranche!

  • Glad you enjoyed the French Riviera and a great way to spend your time there. Relaxing is also part of “the life” as we call it.

    The diving board area, “Le plongeoir” even has a Facebook link where people post pics and video of the kids…being kids and outside having fun. Good to see you mentioned Coco Beach too, it’s my favorite quick go to beach spot, in fact your pic is exactly where I go. It’s also a nice spot to run into neighbors and meet some of the other locals.

    Send me a message next time you come to the French Riviera, there are a ton of secret beaches in the region, sandy and otherwise that really set the tone for life in the area.

  • camorose

    How fun! Fingers crossed I’ll get back to Nice soon.

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  • Megan LaPlante

    I stumbled upon this awesome post today. I am heading to Nice next weekend. What was your favorite private beach to splurge on and get the beach chairs? Many thanks!

  • camorose

    I love Le Sporting! :)

  • Katya De Herder

    It’s a great post :) loving it! let me know what you think of mine please :) http://www.mynice.org

  • eggie5

    I just went to Beaulieu-Sur-Mer today. Take bus 81 from Promode des Arts in Nice and get off at the Baie des Fourmis stop. The beach is actually called Plage des Fourmis. Then coming back to Nice you get on at the the same exact stop you got off — kinda confusing…

  • camorose

    Glad you enjoyed!

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  • Emily Heinkel

    Thank you for the guide! My husband and I are going in a couple of months and are so excited. However, we are not super comfortable with complete nudity. Are the nude beaches marked off or would we need to avoid any of these beaches for this reason? Thanks!

  • camorose

    Hi Emily! None of these beaches are nude beaches and I’ve never come across one, although it’s pretty standard across all beaches in France that there will be some toplessness.

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