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Best French beaches for families with small children

March 31, 2011 10:25 am
posted by Rebecca

From the wide, sandy beaches of the north to the wind-swept coastline of the West and sun-kissed shores of the South, France is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches.

But it pays to be in the know when planning a holiday with young children…is the nearest beach a hike down steep cliff paths, the sea a bubbling cauldron of tempestuous tides and the only place to eat an expensive bistro?

Fear not bathing beauties as we’ve done our research so you don’t have to.  From calm waters to easy access, fine sand castle-building matter to rich rock pool pickings, here’s our guide to the top toddler friendly French beaches.

Brittany beaches for… sandcastle competitions

Visitors to Brittany are spoilt for choice in terms of family-friendly beaches.  Top picks for sandcastles and safe swimming include:

La Grande Plage de Goas Lagorn, Baie de Lannion (or ”La Plage de Tresmeur”) – this sheltered, West facing beach offers suitably safe swimming and a mile of white, un-crowded sand.  The nearby marina is home to a range of eateries including child-pleasing creperies.

La Grande Plage de Goas Lagorn

The Quiberon Peninsula – this coast, known as the ‘Cote Sauvage’, tends towards wilder beaches, but La Plage Conquel has one wild side facing the Atlantic and another overlooking sheltered Quiberon Bay.  This sandy beach is ideal for children, with plenty of shallow rock pools to explore at low tide.

La Plage Conquel

Plage du Trez, Benodet – affording a pretty, sandy beach, and easy access as well as excellent facilities, Benodet is often cited as one of the most family friendly destinations in the region.  The heart of the resort is Plage du Trez, which is supervised by life-guards during summer months and has a large variety of places to buy snacks and drinks just behind the beach.  Nearby Plage du Letty and Plage Saint Gilles are ideal for rock pooling.

La Grande Plage, CarnacCarnac’s South facing beaches are beautifully sheltered with miles of soft sand and pretty dunes at the eastern fringe – a classic seaside resort.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Brittany

La Grande Plage, Carnac

Normandy beaches for… the white sands which inspired Monet

Described as ‘non-stop beach’ the coast of Normandy offers a plentiful selection of fabulous sandy beaches – many rich in World War II associations, from Utah to Omaha, Juno to Sword.

Trouville Plage – immortalised by Monet, quieter and more relaxed than neighbouring Deauville, Trouville offers an immense sweep of white sand, a great beach for families with younger children.

The Boardwalk on the beach at Trouville

For more relaxed, inexpensive options head to Houlgate or St-Germain-sur-Ay. Houlgate is a nice, compact, clean resort whilst St Germain offers a vast beach, perfect for picnics (but worth noting that part of the beach is reserved for naturists, so pick your spot carefully!).

The department of Manche is blessed with 330 kilometres of stunning coastline, with the greatest number of European blue flag beaches in France.  Sciotot Beach at Les Pieux offers fine sands and a rock pool for paddling in.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Normandy

Sunset on Sciotot Beach

Aquitaine beaches for… beachcombing and crab hunting

Renowned as a surfing Mecca for the wild Atlantic waves, Aquitaine also has some hidden gems for families with tiny tots.

Saint-Jean de Luz – adjacent to the charming town by the same name and on the border with Spain, Saint-Jean de Luz beach is compact, pristine and perfect for seaside thrills.  There are even bathing tents for hire so you and your little ones can escape the sun.

Saint-Jean de Luz

Just around the coast, Socoa Beach, beneath Socoa Fort, is a tranquil spot for undisturbed beachcombing and crab hunting.

Lake Biscarosse – of course, beaches aren’t restricted to coastal areas.  The lakes of Landes offer some excellent beaches for warm, shallow water and shady pine trees.  There’s the Lake of Cazaux-Sanguinet to the North and the Lake of Biscarrosse-Parentis to the South

Children looking out at Lake Biscarosse

Moliets Plage – a golden sandy beach meets pine forest and lake, this resort is popular with locals and visitors alike, the beach bordered by the Courant d’Huchet nature reserve.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Aquitaine

Mediterranean beaches for… hidden gems and blue lagoons

The French Riviera, blessed with year-round sunshine, holds an eternal appeal for holidaymakers.  You’ll have to go a long way to beat the bevy of beaches available on France’s Mediterranean coast.  Here’s just a few of our favourites.

Port de Crouton Plage, Juan-les-Pins is something of a hidden gem.   The fine sand slopes gently towards the calm shallows on this tranquil beach, a world away from the busier main strip at Juan-les-pins.  The entrance to this sheltered cove can be discovered via the public pathway through the Hotel Belles Rives or 300 yards beyond Le Meridien Hotel.

Villefranche-sur-Mer – a charming, good old fashioned seaside town, far less crowded than much of the Riviera.  There are two beaches to choose from, Plage des Marinières and Plage de la Darse.  Marinières is the big, sandy beach, whilst la Darse is a mix of sand and pebbles.  Both are popular with families but far less crowded than other beaches surrounding Nice.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Plage de la Gravette, Antibes – sheltered by a breakwater, forming a safe enclosure for swimming,  the ‘Old Antibes beach’ is compact and sandy.

Plage de Notre Dame, Ile de Porquerolles – sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to discover idyllic beaches.  This is such an instance.  The Ile de Porquerolles is the largest of the group of islands known as the Iles d’Hyères or ‘Les Iles d’Or’, the Golden Isles.  Eucalyptus and pine scent the air and the crescent of white sand is framed by aqua blue water.  Not for the faint hearted, the beach is a 20 minute cycle ride from the ferry, so only tackle this if little legs are up to a big adventure.  Whilst there are no facilities in the immediate vicinity, pack a picnic and you’ll enjoy a day in paradise.

Plage de Notre Dame, Ile de Porquerolles

Plage de L’Estagnol, Bormes-les-Mimosas – one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches on the Med, the big draw for L’Estagnol is the quarter of a mile long sand-edged lagoon, which provides a haven for safe swimming.  That and the chance to spot the Sarkozys – the president of France has use of the Fort de Brégançon.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation on the Mediterranean

 

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