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Popular French Beaches

What makes the perfect beach? Is it mile upon mile of unspoilt soft white sand? Is it a bay sheltered on three sides by cliffs? Is it a sun-soaked haven by the Mediterranean Sea? Or is it a beach with hundreds of rock pools where the children can potter all day looking for minute fish and crabs? Whatever your idea of beach heaven is, you are certain to find it in France.

With around 2,000 miles of coastline which border the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the beaches of France offer a wide variety of terrains for you to enjoy. Some of the best places to find a perfect beach are listed here.

Atlantic Coast

Les Sables d’Olonne Beach

The Beach at Les Sables d’Olonne

Biarritz (Aquitaine)

Probably one of the best known of all French resorts, Biarritz lies on the Basque coast at the foot of the Pyrenees. The town actually has six beaches and has been a popular holiday destination since before Josephine insisted that Napoleon took her to visit the town each summer. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, Biarritz can sometimes experience strong chill winds which blow in from the sea. Howeve, with strong winds come waves and, where there are waves, there are surfers. Surfing conditions are so favourable on the Basque coast that Biarritz regularly plays host to the Surfing World Championships.

Ile de Re (Poitou-Charentes)

Approached by bridge from the historic city of La Rochelle (which itself has the small, clean beach of Port de Minimes), the Ile de Re is a popular destination for the people of France. There are around 6 miles of beautiful white sand beaches on the island, ranging from Le-Bois-Plage-en-Re, which has a beach club for children in the south, to the shallow rocky beaches in the north which are perfect for rock-pooling.

Les Sables d’Olonne (Vendee)

Les Sables d’Olonne has a magnificent long sandy beach which is extremely popular with water sports enthusiasts. Sailing, yachting and windsurfing are all popular here. The promenade, which runs the full length of the beach, has many Victorian buildings and you are never far from refreshments should you require them. The town itself has plenty to occupy you should you wish to leave the beach, including many art galleries, historic buildings and even a zoo.

Mediterranean Coast

Argeles-sur-Mer

Argeles-sur-Mer

Argeles-sur-Mer (Languedoc-Roussillon)

The six-mile long beach at Argeles-sur-Mer offers something for everyone. In the centre, near to the town, the beach is fairly busy, with a funfair to keep children entertained and plenty of places to eat and drink. To the north, the beach is much quieter and the trees which grow along the edges of the beach shield it from nearby campsites. To the south are cliffs and coves.

Le Grau-du-Roi (Languedoc-Roussillon)

Le Grau-du-Roi gives to France what Blackpool gives to Britain, mile upon mile of beautiful beaches, coupled with a myriad of shops selling icecreams, waffles and souvenirs. Travel to Espiguette beach to the south of the town, however, and you will encounter a beautiful wilderness beach full of sand-dunes and reeds and a wide array of wildlife. If you are looking for contrasting experiences, nowhere is better than Le Grau-du-Roi

Saint-Tropez (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)

Although there are small beaches in the heart of St Tropez, the vast expanses of sand available at the Plage de Pampelonne attract thousands of visitors each year. Pampelonne offers everything the beach-goer could ask for - there are private members only areas, public access areas, even naturist sections for those seeking a strap free tan.

North Coast

Ploumanac’h Beach

One of the Beaches at Ploumanac’h

Calais (Nord Pas-de-Calais)

The beach at Calais is a surprisingly pleasant find for both day-trippers and those who are on holiday in the area. The soft sand and rows of shed-like white beach huts will seem strangely familiar to the British traveller, as will the seafront, which has a good mix of places to eat and drink and also a small funfair and miniature golf. Calais also has a yacht club, where you can engage in watersports such as windsurfing or sailing. A gem of a find, which you can visit almost as soon as you get off the ferry.

Houlgate (Normandy)

Houlgate is a small tourist resort in Calvados, Lower Normandy. The long, flat, sandy beach, is surrounded by more than 300 listed buildings, two old spa hotels and even a casino. Perfect for kite-flying, each year the town hosts a kite festival on its beautiful beach. The nearby ‘black cows cliffs’ are perfect for fossil hunting and some beautiful and unusual specimens have been retrieved over the years.

Ploumanac’h (Brittany)

The beautiful beach at Ploumananc’h can be found in Brittany on the stunning Pink Granite coast. The area gets its name from the huge pink boulders which surround its beaches. Extremely popular with French holiday makers, the small village has one of the best beaches in the area. A natural harbour, the town itself is pretty to visit and, as the tides draws out, it reveals a number of pretty islands and islets which catch the eye and make the beach perfect for both sunbathing and shrimping. Of particular note is the small chateau, where Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote Quo Vadis, which sits on top of one of the tiny islands and a partially submerged shrine which is accessible at low tide.

Corsica

Palombaggia Beach

The Stunning Beach at Palombaggia

Corsica has a plethora of superb beaches. Situated in the North of the Island, the Plage de Saleccia is one of the best, with crystal clear water and fine pale sand. It is a popular destination on hot summer days. However, the beach is large enough to withstand an influx of people … and cows. On particularly hot days it is not unusual to find the animals sunbathing on certain sections of the beach!

Also on the island, the stunning beach at Palombaggia has 2km of sand, and benefits from the shelter of pink granite cliffs. The beach can be busy on hot days and it pays to arrive early to find a good space. Palombaggia has lifeguard coverage in the summer, a large assortment of bars and restaurants and offers a variety of water sports.

Amazing Choice of Beaches in France

There is an amazing assortment of beaches in France, especially on the small islands which are littered around the French coast. Whether you enjoy the bustling atmosphere of a busy beach, or prefer something a little quieter, wherever you are on the French coast you can find a stunning beach where you can walk, play or just soak up the sun.

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