Beckoning in the Mediterranean sunshine, the beaches in and around Nice epitomize the glamor of the French Riviera.
Most beaches in Nice are composed of sun-bleached shingle and pebbles, with a couple that offer sand. What they all share in common is fantastic facilities and a serene seaside ambiance. Different sections of beach lie along the famous Promenade des Anglais, which sweeps for four miles around the glittering Baie des Anges.
Here are 15 of the best beaches to visit on your next Riviera sojourn.
Plage des Ponchettes
The long, palm tree-lined Plage des Ponchettes is one of the buzziest beaches in Nice for its proximity to Vieux Nice, the city’s extraordinary old town.
Unfolding beyond the promenade is the joyous flower market, Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya, one of the best places to shop in France, along with a string of sophisticated restaurants, and some of the French Riviera’s most historic landmarks.
Wander among the pastel-shuttered buildings to explore Nice’s 17th-century cathedral, a Baroque palace, ornate churches, and fabulous galleries, boutiques, and bars.
Soak up the kaleidoscope of fresh flowers at the flower market before making your way onto Plage des Ponchettes.
There’s a sandy volleyball court, a lifeguard, and public bathrooms for patrons on the beach.
Coco is one of the best beaches in the area for its just off-the-beaten-path feel, lying to the east of the city’s busy port.
Steps carved into the cliffs from Avenue Jean Lorrain lead down to the shore, which is made up of sun-tinged rock formations and pebbles.
Unlike central beaches in Nice, if you get to Coco Beach at the right time, you may find you have this glorious patch almost to yourself. Soak up the sweeping views of the Cote d’Azur as you dip in and out of the shimmering water.
Plage des Marinières, Villefranche-sur-Mer
Technically in Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of France’s best small towns just outside of Nice, this banana-shaped beach stretches around the resort’s bay. Its big draw is its sugary sand, something of a rarity in this region.
This sunny spot offers everything you’ll need for a mood-lifting day at the seaside. There are bathrooms, a café, a restaurant, and paddle board rental.
Plage des Marinières is just a 20-minute drive from the center of Nice. There’s also a train line, which takes 15 minutes from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Another option is to walk. The French beach town is just over three miles from central Nice, so achievable in under 90 minutes. Enjoy the stroll through Parc du Mont Boron, where you’ll find the 16th-century Fort du Mont Alban. Perched on a green hilltop, this elevated French fortress reveals fabulous views of the sparkling Riviera coastline.
Plage Publique de Castel
Peach, candy, and ochre-hued buildings line this pretty Nice beach at the easternmost tip of the city’s promenade.
You could hire a bike to or from Castel Beach, with a city cycle-hire facility located behind the shore on the promenade.
Plage Publique de Castel features a pebble foreshore with the sublime Castel Plage restaurant behind it. Book ahead if you’d like to reserve a lunchtime seat at this seasonal Mediterranean restaurant. The indulgent roast lobster with spaghetti and summer truffle is divine.
Next to the restaurant is the Art-Deco Ascenseur du Château, an elevator whisking you to Castle Hill park, 300 feet above the shore.
Set between the port and Old Town with delicious postcard views over Nice, this is the best place to walk off lunch inside the leafy park filled with tall cypresses, a coffee shop, and a waterfall.
Plage Publique de Carras
Visiting pebbly Plage de Carras is one of the best things to do in Nice for more active beachgoers, with jet ski and fly board rentals available, and volleyball on the rocky shore.
Located at the westernmost end of Nice’s seafront, Plage Publique de Carras is often less visited than some of Nice’s more central shores. There’s a small marina next to the beach where a row of fishing boats is often moored.
Swim, sunbathe, and enjoy a leisurely wander along the picturesque promenade. You’ll find a couple of bakeries, a convenience store, and pizzeria one block from Plage de Carras on Avenue de la Californie.
Plage Petite Afrique, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Plage Petite Afrique is one of the most brilliant beaches on the French Riviera, just a short drive east of Nice. This quaint resort is backed by a rocky hillside dotted with sprawling villas, citrus, and pine trees. Fragrant pine trees and a cluster of palms provide shade around the sweep of butter-colored shingle sand.
To reach Plage Petite Afrique, take the train from Nice. It’s a brisk 15-minute journey from Gare de Nice-Ville—or 10 minutes from Nice Riquier station, close to the port—followed by a 15-minute walk through the center of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
To the west of Plage Petite Afrique is Beaulieu-sur-Mer’s glamorous marina, which has witnessed many movie stars and royalty step on and off luxury yachts over the decades.
Gather a picnic of juicy tomatoes, crisp baguettes, and regional French cheese to devour on the beach from the boulangerie and produce market on Boulevard Marinoni.
Plage Petite Afrique is well-equipped for day-trippers, with watersports rental, bathrooms, showers, a children’s play area, and rock pools for exploring.
Plage Cros Dei Pin, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Plage Cros Dei Pin is located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a 20-minute drive—or a 90-minute walk—from central Nice.
It’s a small, lesser-known sand and shingle beach in an idyllic spot away from crowds. There are few facilities directly on Cros Dei Pin, which is part of its quiet charm.
Enjoy a soothing dip in the Mediterranean Sea, followed by a stroll to admire the yachts lining Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s harbor, located to the south of the beach.
Nearby, make time to marvel at the extraordinary villa and gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild, considered one of the most beautiful residences of the French Riviera.
Designed by French architect Aaron Messiah, this plush, early 20th-century villa is home to gardens carved into nine sections. Waterfalls, ponds, 100-year-old olive trees, cypress hedges, and Aleppo pines take pride of place in these splendid grounds.
Plage Publique Magnan
Plage Publique Magnan is a spacious urban beach close to the city’s main attractions and amenities. Giant rocks divide Magnan Beach from the glitzy Promenade des Anglais, with steps leading down to the shore.
During summertime, there’s a lifeguard on duty making it safe to enjoy a swim in the sea. When you’re feeling peckish, head to Avenue de la Californie, where you’ll find a boulangerie for fresh bakes, along with a wide array of neighborhood restaurants and cafes.
This chic Le Carré d’Or beach is backed by grandiose buildings, home to sophisticated brasseries, luxury hotels, and the Casino du Palais de la Méditerranée.
Lido Plage is most notable for its offshore pontoon—the only one in Nice, a remnant of a former casino that was built over the water. Following an invigorating swim, visit the elegant La Baieta restaurant on Promenade de Anglais for a traditional salad niçoise.
You could also tag on a visit to the nearby Musée de la Villa Masséna set in the pristine Jardins du Musée Masséna. The museum is known for its display of French Riviera landscape art, including works by Joseph Fricero, Antoine Trachel, and Alexis Mossa. One of the museum’s most notable pieces is Napoleon Bonaparte’s death mask.
This gorgeous garden, now a public park, was created by landscape gardener Edouard André, lined with palm trees, cycads, and orange trees.
Plage de la Serre
A 25-minute drive west of central Nice, Plage de la Serre is among a string of beaches in the pretty town of Cagnes-sur-Mer.
Cagnes-sur-Mer is best known as the resting place of legendary artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a painter at the vanguard of France’s Impressionist movement. Consider visiting the artist’s former home, now a museum, where he lived up until his death in 1919.
Take in Renoir’s works in his workshop, bedrooms, kitchen, and gardens, before lazing on Plage de la Serre.
La Spiaggia Plage is the beach’s fashionable restaurant where gourmet plates of grilled lobster with truffle crushed potato, and creamy burrata with market-fresh tomatoes grace the tabletops.
Plage Paloma, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
An undeniable showstopper for its silky good looks, Plage Paloma is a cove lying on the heel of plush Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
This special beach is worth the taxi or bus ride from Nice or, if you’re game for a cycle, you could hire a bike. The route is roughly six miles.
Plage Paloma is fringed by heavenly-scented pine trees, with steps leading down to the pebbly shore.
Gaze at the yachts and boats that bob in the azure water. Pack a towel and enjoy the gentle ripples of warm Mediterranean lapping on the beach.
Paloma Beach Restaurant, open from May to September, serves beautiful Mediterranean dishes, specializing in locally-caught grilled fish.
Plage du Centenaire
The wheelchair-friendly Plage du Centenaire is divided by the Peillon River, which flows south from Lucéram and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Find a patch on the wider eastern section of this vibrant beach.
Enjoy lunch at the gorgeous Ruhl Plage, which also operates a section of private beach next to Plage du Centenaire. This sophisticated restaurant whips up delightful dishes of whole grilled sea bream, organic free-range chicken, and summer truffle pizza.
Directly behind Plage du Centenaire is one of Nice’s loveliest, leafy parks, Jardin Albert 1er. Once you’ve bathed on the beach, enjoy a stroll through the pines, palms, and cypresses.
At the foot of the park is the Théâtre de Verdure de Nice, an outdoor theater built in 1946 by architect François Aragon. At the northern edge is Place Masséna, a dazzling 19th-century plaza, and between the two points are statues, fountains, manicured paths, and a pretty carousel.
Plage Publique De l’Opéra
The grand dame of Nice’s seafront is Plage Publique De l’Opéra, directly in front of Nice’s lauded Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, after which the beach is named.
Plage Publique De l’Opera is sandwiched between Beau Rivage and Ponchettes and is one of the most central beaches in Nice. It’s an idyllic spot for combining relaxing shoreside time with swimming, people-watching, and discovering the city’s arts.
This current opera house was designed by local architect François Aune, a pupil of Gustave Eiffel, and was completed in 1885 on the site of the former opera house, which burnt to the ground in 1881.
Join a 90-minute tour, beginning by exploring the building’s exterior, including the exquisite north facade on rue Saint-François-de-Paule. You’ll then journey through the hall, the Italian room, the Montserrat Caballé foyer, and the amphitheater.
Pack a towel and head over to the beach after your tour for a leisurely swim after touring the opera house. There’s a generous public section of beach next to the private Opera Plage beach restaurant.
After a day of culture and relaxation, choose the upmarket Plage Beau Rivage Nice for a sumptuous late Mediterranean lunch.
Just one block back from the beach on Rue Saint-François de Paule, you’ll find more restaurants, bakeries, and the marvelous Moulin à Huile d’Olive Nicolas Alziari for exquisite olives and olive oil.
Plage des Fourmis, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Embark on a 30-minute cycle, 90-minute walk, or 10-minute drive around the headland towards glamorous Beaulieu-sur-Mer to wind up in this oasis of tranquility.
Shingle, sand, and a sweep of tall palm trees complete Plage des Fourmis’ elegant aesthetic. Enjoy a walk along the beautiful Promenade Maurice Rouvier, which maps the coastline from the beach to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat back towards Nice.
La Réserve Beach
The intimate La Réserve Beach on Boulevard Franck Pilatte is walkable from the city center, separated from Nice’s main strip by the busy port.
La Réserve is a wonderful beach for swimming and snorkeling, straight off the rocky shore.
After your dip, visit the nearby Grotte du Lazaret, a fascinating cave and archaeological site where thousands of prehistoric human and animal remains, dating back more than 70,000 years, were discovered in the 1970s.
The storybook French Riviera is one of the most spectacular vacation destinations in the world. Explore Celebrity’s cruises to Nice to discover an idyllic Mediterranean getaway filled with glamorous beaches, heavenly cuisine, and charming villages and towns.