The South of France has always offered a glimpse of summer’s joie de vivre with its tempting beaches, perfect tan lines, starlets, and everything in between. Since the days of the Hitchcock classic “To Catch A Thief” that was filmed in France’s south in 1952, to “Et Dieu… créa la femme” (And God Created Woman) just four years later, to the more recent “Hors de Prix” (Priceless)(2006) and “Magic in the Moonlight” (2014), cinema has obsessed over the picturesque coasts of France, and with it so have we.
St. Tropez in the 60s and 70s was practically synonymous with Brigitte Bardot. And who can ever forget Jane Birkin’s teeny bikini and Serge Gainsbourg’s incessant smoking by the pool? While those icons may not frequent French coastal sides anymore, the classic beaches remain practically untouched and timeless in their splendor — no wonder we still continue flocking to them.
Here’s a compilation of France’s iconic seaside locations:
This picturesque, Impressionist-loved Normand commune was, and often continues to be, the destination for Parisian elites and all alike. Its cliffs, beaches, and meadows are easily recognizable in paintings by Monet, Pissarro, and Manet. Marked with classic Northern architecture and an endless harbor, Deauville is one of the closest destinations from Paris and one of the chicest as well. – map (2hr15min drive from Paris)
Sailboats gently bobbing on the perfectly blue Mediterranean sea, embraced by a green coastline, this destination beach is on an absolutely stunning, little-known island (Île de Porquerolles) in the Îles d’Hyères located just off the southern coast. – map (20min ferry from Giens Peninsula, which is 2hrs from Marseille by car)
While Marseille has tons of beautiful beaches like the Prado, and the calanques have been made famous by Jacquemus, Jeanne Damas, and all the starlets of the modern-day, the tiny islands off the coast of Marseille, like Île de Pomègues in the Frioul archipelago, are the a true gem as well. You might even mistake them for the Caribbean with the crystal clear waters and white beaches. – map (30min by ferry from Marseille)
Plage Paloma in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is as classy as it gets in France. The private beach speaks to glamour, 60’s class, and bright white umbrellas. With private villas and hotels perched over the hills, this location will make you forget what day and time it is. – map (30min drive from Nice)
Peter Sarstedt famously sang, “When you go on your summer vacation / you go to Juan-les-Pins / with your carefully designed topless swimsuit / you get an even suntan on your back, and on your legs.” It is one of those places that’s like a classic black and white movie — timeless. – map (1hr drive from Nice, or 35min drive from Cannes)
Saint-Tropez is known for having attracted Serge Gainsburg, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, and more, and to this day it continues tempting a high-brow crowd. Its VIP scene, endlessly flowing champagne, and nude tanning are some of the reasons to head over to this bucket list location. – map (15min drive from Saint-Tropez)
We often discredit and forget the huge part of French culture that’s not geographically part of the country, but those in the know religiously head out to Corsica in the summer. Maybe they enjoy the smelly cheese too, but Corsica’s beaches are a major reason to consider Corsica for summer vacay. – map (20min drive from Porto-Vecchio)
Featured image: Stock Photos from LiliGraphie /Shutterstock