When it comes to choosing a holiday destination on the Mediterranean coast, the diversity of landscapes and beaches along the coast is both exciting and bewildering. From the Spanish border to the Italian border, each region offers its own atmosphere, unique charm and specific attractions. So, how to make the most judicious decision?
First of all, it is important to define your preferences and expectations. Are you looking for fine sandy beaches and bustling seaside resorts, or do you prefer secluded coves and picturesque villages? Do you want to practice water sports, discover a rich history and vibrant culture, or simply relax and enjoy the sun?
When you head from the Spanish border towards Argeles-Plage, you enter the magnificent region of the Vermilion Coast. This part of the Eastern Pyrenees stands out with its rugged coastal landscapes and numerous small coves against a backdrop of vineyards. It's an ideal destination for those looking for picturesque and preserved places.
The bay of Collioure and the straight coast of Argeles
One of the jewels of the Vermilion Coast is the charming city of Collioure. This small town is extremely touristy, but it is worth the detour. Its historical center is remarkable and offers unforgettable beauty. The cobbled streets, colorful houses, and flowered facades create a picturesque and authentic atmosphere. It is hard to resist the urge to wander through the narrow streets and discover the many hidden treasures of the town.
The village of Collioure
A must-do experience in Collioure is having a coffee at the Boramar beach, in front of the Notre Dame church. It's an idyllic place to relax, enjoy the sea view, and admire the unique architecture of the church. The contrast between the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean and the vibrant colors of the buildings creates an enchanting landscape.
The landscapes of the Vermilion Coast
Besides Collioure, the Vermilion Coast is filled with other small coves and beautiful beaches. Some of them are only accessible on foot, thus offering a more exclusive and preserved experience. You can venture along the coastal path and discover secluded spots where you can swim in turquoise waters and relax away from the crowd.
The Vermilion Coast also offers a rich history and a strong Catalan culture. You can visit picturesque villages like Banyuls-sur-Mer, famous for its natural sweet wine, or Port-Vendres, an authentic fishing port. Each village has its own unique charm and provides opportunities to taste regional culinary specialties and explore local traditions.
Continuing along the coast from Argeles, you'll discover a near-infinite line of sandy beaches. This region is popular with lovers of relaxation and seaside bathing.
From Argelès the coast becomes linear with large sandy beaches
The first stop on this part of the coast is Argeles-Plage. This resort is renowned for its numerous campsites and its superb sandy beaches. In summer, it's bustling with activities. Whether it's to relax on the beach, engage in water sports, or enjoy the nightlife, Argeles-Plage offers a wide range of activities to suit all tastes. For accommodation, there are many campsites available.
In the department of Aude, you'll find the famous town of Gruissan, known for its iconic stilt houses from the movie "37.2 Degrees in the Morning". This picturesque village is located between the sea and the Gruissan pond, providing a unique natural setting. You can stroll through the charming alleys, visit the medieval castle, and relax on the fine sandy beaches.
A beach of the Grande Motte
Moving on to the department of Hérault, you'll discover several resorts that were developed in the 70s during the paid leave. La Grande-Motte is one of the most famous, with its modernist architecture marked by its pyramids. This resort offers numerous fine sandy beaches and a multitude of activities for the whole family. You can stroll along its famous seafront, enjoy the many restaurants and shops, or relax on the well-maintained and monitored beaches.
The architecture of La Grande Motte with its pyramids
This part of the Mediterranean coast, going from Argeles to La Camargue, is known to be often windy, even during the summer months. This makes it an ideal place for water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sailing. Many competitions and sports events are indeed organized each year along this coast.
However, it's important to note that this windy region may not be suitable for all types of beach activities. Swimmers and families looking for sheltered and quiet beaches may prefer other stretches of the Mediterranean coast where winds are less prevalent.
Starting from La Grande Motte, we enter the Camargue, a unique region, preserved and renowned for its wild nature and exceptional landscapes.
The Espiguette beach is one of the jewels of the Camargue. It stretches for tens of kilometers. This wild beach is a real haven of peace.
The rooftops of Saintes Maries de la Mer
Our favorite seaside resort in Camargue is Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. This charming seaside resort has an authentic charm and a unique atmosphere. It is a real paradise for nature lovers and birdwatching enthusiasts. The Camargue nature reserve, which surrounds the town, is home to a great variety of bird species, including flamingos. The salt marshes, ponds, and vast areas of preserved nature offer unique opportunities for observing wildlife and flora.
The Feria is part of the identity of Saintes Maries de la Mer
In addition to its natural beauty, the resort of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer also offers cultural and historical richness. The town has an imposing medieval church where pilgrims come every year to honor Sainte Sarah and the Saintes Maries. The town is also full of charming alleys, typical restaurants, and craft shops where you can discover the soul of the Camargue.
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer maintains close ties with the Romani community. Every year, a pilgrimage dedicated to Sainte Sarah, the Patron Saint of the Roma, attracts Roma from all over Europe. The Roma parade through the streets of the town during this pilgrimage, carrying the statues of the Saintes Maries to the sea to bless them. The Roma community also has a neighborhood near the town, where you can find traditional houses, craft shops, and restaurants. The Roma are passionate about horses and perform impressive equestrian demonstrations on the beach. Their presence contributes to the cultural identity of the region and offers visitors a unique and authentic experience.
On the side of the Blue Coast, there are charming small seaside resorts like Carry-le-Rouet and Sausset-les-Pins. The beaches there are pleasant and conducive to relaxation. You can enjoy the sun, swim in turquoise waters, and taste delicious seafood dishes in the seaside restaurants.
The calanques of Marseille and Cassis offer breathtaking landscapes. These steep rocky formations plunging into the sea create secret coves and hidden beaches. It's the ideal place for hiking and climbing enthusiasts. You can marvel at the wild beauty of these places and swim in crystal clear waters surrounded by nature. Access is not easy, you have to walk. Moreover, since 2021, access is limited, you have to reserve to get there to avoid overcrowding and thus preserve this unique heritage.
A very specific relief on the Frioul island
And of course, Marseille wouldn't be Marseille without its vibrant atmosphere and cosmopolitan character. The city is full of restaurants, lively bars, colorful markets, and historical sites to visit. You can stroll along the Old Port, explore the alleys of the Panier district, enjoy the panoramic view from the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica or visit the Frioul islands.
The Old Port of Marseille from the sea
Marseille is a seaside destination that offers a unique mix of culture, relaxation, and adventure. Whether you're looking for moments of relaxation on the beach, exciting water activities, or urban explorations, Marseille will satisfy you.
Prepare to be enchanted by the incomparable style of the beaches of Var! Imagine yourself strolling along vast expanses of golden sand, while the turquoise waters tickle your toes. The beaches of Var offer a perfect mix between large lively beaches and small secret coves, where you can escape from the world and enjoy a moment of tranquility.
The port of Saint-Tropez
The town of Saint-Tropez
But that's not all! Let yourself be taken to the famous Gulf of St-Tropez, where glamour and charm meet. These beaches were made legendary by the iconic Brigitte Bardot, notably the famous Pampelonne beach. Here, you will find numerous private beaches where the prices can be astronomical. The atmosphere is electrifying here, with champagne flowing freely in the summer and luxurious yachts moored in the port of St-Tropez. It's a real spectacle for the eyes and a place where you can get carried away by a chic and festive atmosphere.
A private area of Pampelonne Beach
Let's not forget the marine jewels off the Var coast: the islands of Hyères and Lavandou. These paradisiacal islands offer you unspoiled beaches, crystal clear waters, and breathtaking wild nature. It's the ideal place for a romantic getaway or a day of snorkeling adventure. The most famous is the island of Porquerolles, easily accessible from Hyères.
A cove on the island of Porquerolles
As you continue your journey east towards Italy, you will discover the seaside resorts of Fréjus and Saint-Raphaël. Here, the atmosphere is more family-friendly, with sandy beaches perfect for sandcastles and family games. You can also explore more confidential coves, where you can feel like a true sea explorer.
In summary, the beaches of Var offer a unique style that combines glamour, relaxation, and discoveries. Whether you are looking for the effervescence of luxury or a quiet corner to relax, you will find your happiness on the beautiful beaches of the Var coast. So, prepare your swimsuit, your sunscreen and let yourself be seduced by the irresistible charm of the Var Mediterranean!
The Esterel Corniche with Cannes in the background
Starting from Saint-Raphaël, you take the picturesque Esterel Corniche that leads us to Cannes along the sea. The panoramas that are revealed are simply majestic, with these red cliffs that contrast beautifully with the azure blue of the sea. Along this steep coast, we discover many secret small coves, nestled between the rocks. They are mainly made of pebbles and offer water of crystalline clarity.
Around Cannes, and up to the exit of Antibes, the beaches are mainly sandy. The famous Croisette beach is a must, famous for its film festival and its sumptuous palaces facing the sea.
Juan les Pins: Antibes' summer resort
The beach closest to Old Antibes
Antibes is a destination of choice. We love to stroll through the streets of Old Antibes, get lost in its lively market in the morning, and enjoy its beautiful beaches, even if they are often crowded. They are small, but still worth a visit. Cap d'Antibes, with its steep coast, offers unique landscapes and some little corners of paradise for swimming.
Cap d'Antibes: a steep coast
Starting from Villeneuve-Loubet and continuing to the Italian border, we find mainly pebble-covered beaches, some of which are equipped with artificial sand for more comfort.
The Bay of Nice port side
But it is in Nice where you find the must-see. Its beaches stretch from the airport to the port. Besides its natural beauty, Nice is also a culturally rich city. Indeed, the city is full of cultural treasures to discover. You cannot miss the famous Promenade des Anglais, lined with palm trees and offering a breathtaking view of the sea. The Old Nice, with its picturesque alleys and colorful buildings, its many restaurants, is a real delight to explore. It has numerous lively cafes, restaurants, and shops, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The morning market in Old Nice
The historic heritage of Nice is also very interesting, with sites such as the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Lascaris Palace, and Place Garibaldi. Art lovers will appreciate the city's many museums, including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) and the Matisse Museum.
Nice is also known for its gastronomy, with a variety of restaurants offering delicious Mediterranean cuisine and local specialties to taste like socca.
Continuing your journey towards Italy, the coast becomes increasingly steep. The peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is home to some of the most sumptuous properties on the French Riviera. In addition to this, it offers a breathtaking coastal path, perfect for a walk by the sea.
The Bay of Mala at the gates of Monaco
Continuing along the corniche, the panoramas that are revealed to us are simply magnificent. Before arriving at Cap d'Ail, a stop at the Mala beach is a must. This superb beach nestled at the bottom of cliffs, with its two beach restaurants, is a real must. A unique moment, although access is reserved for able-bodied people.
Our journey continues, and here we are arrived in the principality of Monaco, where we discover its beautiful artificial beach. A day is recommended to explore this small country enclaved in the heart of France. Between sparkling casinos and luxurious hotels, Monaco does not lack charm.
Menton: one of the last French beaches before Italy
Finally, Menton marks the end of our journey, the Italian border is just outside the city. Menton welcomes us with its pleasant atmosphere and its beautiful colorful houses that recall the Italian coast. It's an ideal place to stroll in the picturesque streets and enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere.