The French Riviera, the Mediterranean coast of Provence in south-east France, is famous all over the world, not just for its beaches of course but also for the towns and villages, resorts and scenery, all of which are spectacular in places - and less spectacular in others.
The weather has also played an important role in the popularity of the coast here with sunny warm weather almost guaranteed from late spring to late autumn, and usually very pleasant even in winter. Conditions are more certain to be sunny and warm here than any other region of France.
But unlike elsewhere in France the beaches of the Riviera are often of stones and pebbles rather than sandy, and in many places the free beaches are crowded others can be expensive to use. This is the unfortunate price of guaranteed sunshine and beautiful scenery!
France This Way comment: the Riviera has an attraction that is hard to describe. The crowds, the heat, the traffic might make you wonder why anyone would visit but in truth if we had to choose a section of coast in France to return to every year this would be it. The atmosphere along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, the beauty of a resort like Menton, the quiet pleasures of Villefranche-sur-Mer, the pleasures of strolling through Saint-Tropez...all these and more are irresistible once you have visited. But we tend to visit in June or September rather than high summer!
Main resorts of the Riviera
Here we do little more than introduce the highlights of the main resorts (from south-west to north-east). See the individual resort reviews for more details.
Perhaps too far west to be considered as a true Riviera resort, Cassis is also listed here because of the stunning coastal scenery of the Calanques de Marseille, to the west of the town. And there is a beach! See the Cassis guide.
Famous Saint-Tropez also has a lovely harbour and old town as well as several beaches such as Bouillabaisse, Graniers Beach, Jumeaux and Pampellone - although finding an easily accessible beach that is not so easy in the town centre. See the Saint-Tropez guide.
At Sainte-Maxime your whole family will enjoy the large sandy beach. See the Sainte-Maxime guide.
Saint-Raphael has a long beach and a very pleasant and active resort. See the Saint-Raphael guide.
Theoule-sur-Mer is one of the quieter resorts along the coast here. See the Theoule-sur-Mer guide.
In Cannes the harbour and town are the main highlight, and of course there is also popular beaches. A substantial part of the sandy beach is privately owned but there are also several public areas. See the Cannes guide.
Antibes is a lovely town to explore, one of our favourites on the Riviera coast and the beaches are mostly (but not all) sandy and open to the public. See the Antibes guide.
Nice is the most visited resort in France, and a beautiful city as well. There are several kilometres of beaches next to the famous Promenade des Anglais - although be aware the beaches in Nice are of pebbles not sand. See the Nice guide.
We would describe Villefranche-sur-Mer as small but beautifully formed. See the Villefranche-sur-Mer guide.
Menton is a beautiful and colourful town on the side of a hill above the Mediterranean. Come once and you won't want to leave - ever! See the Menton guide.
Note: you may think from my enthusiastic comments above that the whole Riviera is one great long rich playground and you can't go far wrong wherever you stay. This is not the case, and there are less upmarket resorts in several places along the coast. Although these will also have beaches you will be missing out on an important part of the Riviera experience if you don't stay somewhere nice!
See more about the Mediterranean coast and the resorts along this stretch of coast in the Cote d'Azur travel guide.