France's Sexiest Beaches
See the Best of the Côte D'Azur
France's beaches along the Mediterranean coast ooze style and sex appeal. The sophisticated beach towns spoil visitors with endless days of sunshine, welcoming stretches of sand dotted with shady cabanas, and stunning women in teeny bikinis reminiscent of beach bombshell Brigitte Bardot.
St. Tropez was always on the radar of France's creative class, but it was Brigitte Bardot who put it on the map as the sexiest spot on the French Riviera. Wearing little more than bikinis — and sometimes even less — the rich, famous and exceptionally good-looking come to St. Trop to flaunt their stuff. The jet-set crowd often includes some of the world's most recognizable faces, from Oprah Winfrey to Leonardo DiCaprio to party-scene staple Paris Hilton. The harbor is filled with mega-yachts, and the clubs and restaurants are filled with A-listers enjoying the carefree atmosphere. The beach at Pampelonne is one of the most popular and home to the Nikki Beach Club, a titan on the VIP scene thanks to its Champagne-fueled parties. Exhibitionists head to the Plage de Tahiti, where nudity is the norm.
The luxurious Côte D'Azur continues at Cannes, the site of the annual film festival that beckons the Hollywood crowd. During the summer months, the same beautiful crowd comes to enjoy the town's picture-perfect beaches and chic resorts. The shoreline at Cannes is divided into 32 sections with a mixture of private and public access. The Promenade de la Croisette is the fashionable strip that runs alongside the sea and is filled with expensive boutiques and restaurants. The town's swankiest hotels can be found here, including the Hotel Majestic Barriere and the towering white Hotel Martinez, which features an extensive private beach and a water-sports center.
Pascal Blachier, Flickr
Nice helps make the Côte d'Azur accessible to the rest of the travelers who aren't carrying an American Express Black Card or traveling with an entourage. There are no sandy shores in Nice, just a lovely stretch of beach covered with smooth pebbles and stones. The beach is roughly 4 miles, from the Old Town to the airport, and offers a combination of free and paid sections. Even some of the public beaches offer amenities such as chaise lounges and umbrellas for a reasonable fee. The Hotel Beau Rivage, built in 1860, has a nice beach view and a long history as one of the first hotels on the promenade. It was a former home away from home for guests including Henri Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Friedrich Nietzsche.
MORE: Rent a Luxurious Villa on the French Riviera
Video: French Riviera OasisFor $160,000 a week, enjoy the privacy of a luxury villa on the French Riviera.
The 3 islands of Provence's Iles d'Hyeres, aka the Golden Isles, are a natural escape that's a far cry from the busy beach scene of the nearby French Riviera. There are no cars permitted, and visitors traverse the islands on bikes. The largest of the 3, Porquerolles is still petite, stretching just 5 miles long and less than 2 miles wide. Le Mas du Langoustier is the choice hotel on the island, with 50 comfy rooms, great food and classic Provencal charm. The best beaches can be found at the eastern end of the island, including Plage de Notre Dame and Plage de la Galere. Thanks to their national-park status, the beaches safely maintain their fine white sands and natural splendor. But the real entity to thank is Mother Nature — the islands are widely recognized for enjoying sunny skies 275 days a year.