Beaches in France

Information on the beaches of France, including water quality, beach safety and access for people with disabilities...

France has ocean coastline along the coastline of Brittany and Normandy, the northern part of which borders the English Channel (Manche). This is made up of a combination of cliff areas, rocky areas and sandy beaches.

The west coast of France is washed by the Atlantic ocean which has cold, tidal waters and often windy conditions and large waves. The southern-most area is popular with surfers and wind surfers. Long sandy beaches, often backed up by pine forest, characterise the west coast.

  • Nouvelle Aquitaine have more on the four types of coastline along the southerly Aquitaine region of the west coast

The south coast of France borders the warm Mediterranean sea. Generally, the seas are calm along the coast and the waters warm and very salty. The coastline runs from Spain in the west to Italy in the east. The most famous French seaside resorts - St-Tropez, Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, St-Raphaël and Nice - are along the eastern-most stretch, the area known as both the Côte d'Azur and the French Riviera.

  • Plagesmed have more on the beaches of the eastern side, the Var and Alpes-Maritimes

Blue Flag beaches

The Blue Flag is an eco label award for beaches with good practices in terms of water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education. It was introduced in France in 1985 under the name "Pavillon Bleu" and is now used in 41 countries across the world.


France has a number of beaches dedicated to people with disabilities and impaired mobility. These are called handiplage and information on local handiplage is always available from a region's tourist offices. The Association Handiplage website has information on facilities at each of the beaches across the country. The quality of these beaches are rated from one to four buoys, with four being the best. The equipment and facilities at each beach is regularly checked.

  • Handiplage have a map of French beaches adapted to people with disabilities
  • To find a Blue Flag beach accessible for people with limited mobility, visit the Blue Flag website