The five best beaches in the South of France.
Written By Evelyn Crowley
For the ultimate seaside getaway, nothing surpasses the sun-drenched glamour and stunning natural beauty of the Cote D’Azur. With its pristine white sand, sparkling ultramarine water, and coastline peppered with yachts, the region has long been the summer playground of choice for film stars, captains of industry, and European royals alike. Here, VIOLET GREY uncovers the South of France's most enticing destinations—from the most exclusive hotspot in St. Tropez to Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorite beach in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Cannes’ most desirable swath of shoreline hugs a prominent thoroughfare known as the Promenade de la Croisette. The Carlton Hotel, which one might recognize as the setting of the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock caper, To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. The following year, Kelly returned to the hotel for a first date with Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
THE CARLTON HOTEL
Back in the 1920’s, it was on the Plage de la Garoupe in Antibes that married American expats Gerald and Sara Murphy popularized the concept of sunbathing, convincing friends and fellow bon vivants like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker to join them in their crusade to leave no limb left un-bronzed. Nearby, at the storied Hotel du Cap, guests have included everyone from Winston Churchill and Marlene Dietrich (presumably not in the same room) to a honeymooning Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Hotel Du Cap
Pampelonne Plage was once a stretch of undistinguished shoreline, frequented mostly by locals. Then it crossed paths with Brigitte Bardot. When the French actress frolicked among its dunes in the classic 1956 film, And God Created Woman, she set the sleepy St.Tropez beach on course for international stardom. Today, Pampelonne is home to Club 55, the French Riviera’s chicest beach party. Created by the Colmont family after they won Bardots’ favor as set caterers, the restaurant and club still attracts a throng of jetsetters—from Kate Moss to Beyoncé—each summer.
Sporty types flock to the Plage de l’Almanarre outside the charming town of Hyères. Buffeted by strong gusts of wind, the beach is ideal for windsurfers and kitesurfers, both novice and professional. Nature-lovers, meanwhile, stake out a spot in the marsh behind the dunes hoping to catch a glimpse of the area’s famous wild pink flamingos.
Considered one of the most beautiful spots on the Cote d’Azur, tiny Paloma Beach channels the unspoiled luxury of the 1950’s Riviera, with striped upholstered deck chairs and a charming 66-year-old bistro where guests including Henri Matisse and Jack Nicholson have been spotted tucking into the day’s fresh catch.
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