France has over 3000 kilometres of coastline, and a great deal of it is accessible. In the south of France the main areas of coast include:
- the French Riviera / Cote d’Azur section that runs from Marseille to the Italian border
- the Languedoc coast, also on the Mediterranean, that runs from the border with Spain around to the Camargue (on the border between Languedoc and Provence regions)
- the Atlantic coast, that stretches in ann almost unbroken line from Arcachon the coast west of Bordeaux) down to the border with Spain at Hendaye, beyond Biarritz
But which should you choose…and why?
The French Riviera beaches are for glamour and sophistication, and the most reliable sunny weather. The turquoise blue of the Mediterranean often makes these beaches among the most beautiful in France.
But the beaches are often not free to access i.e. you need to pay), and many are pebble rather than sand. The beaches in the most popular French riviera resorts can also become very crowded.Note however that it is still often preferable to pay – the free, public beaches are inevitably the most crowded of all.
The Languedoc coast is rather newer to the tourist trail, and many of the resorts date from the 1960′s and 1970′s when there was a grand plan to free the region from mosquitoes and to develop seaside resorts. On the Languedoc beaches, there is much less crowding, apart from in the centres of the popular resorts, and it is usually easy to find a long, sandy beach where you can bask in the sunshine in relative tranquility.
But the resorts and facilities are often rather downmarket compared with the French Riviera; the scenery behind the beaches can be less endearing; and many stretches of the coast are rather windswept.Â Sometimes very windswept.
Staying here is less expensive than staying in most of the Riviera resorts.
The long sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast are sunny and sandy, and extensive – so you can usually escape the crowds with little effort. The resorts tend to be very pleasant – clean, lively, and full of the feel-good factor. Behind the beaches lie the enormous expanses of the Landes forest, good for cycling and walking when you want to get away from the beach.
The resorts are also often a bit hard to reach, with few good roads heading to the centre of this section of coast. The resorts don’t have the ‘historical interest’ that you will find in Provence, and it is much harder to access the mixed scenery that you find in the Riviera resorts.
The beaches of the Atlantic are very popular with surfers, which does mean the waves are often a bit ‘lively’. But all is not lost – when the waves are too big for the children to go in the sea, most Atlantic resorts also have large inland lakes – also with beaches and other water-based sporting activities that are made difficult by an ocean with big waves.
Which French coast to choose?
You can see that your choice of destination will affect which type of beaches you will see, how many other people will be on the beach with you, and also the other activities and places to visit that you will be able to enjoy during your visit.
But as to which to choose? Well you know your personal preferences, but one thing is sure – somewhere in the south of France the perfect beach is waiting for you.