Five Famed Beach Clubs on the Côte d’Azur

by Irvina Lew

Sep 5, 2019

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The Côte d’Azur translates to blue coast and, I assume, refers to the exquisite color of the water and sky. From Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport, both public and private beaches line the seafront in both directions from Beaulieu-sur-Mer to Saint-Tropez. Most are easily accessible to visitors traveling by bus, train and car (drivers can park on the side of the seafront road, D6098, if they can find a space). At public beaches, sun-lovers carry their chairs, rattan roll-ups, net bags filled with beach toys and pique-nique on the pebbly shore. Private beaches, including those affiliated with haute hotels, charge a daily fee for a towel-covered transat (sunbed), umbrella and food and beverage service. They are ideal for those who prefer to sip a chilled rosé, while the kids play, then, linger together over a fabulous, even gastronomic, lunch. In September, after the August crowds flee, the beaches are particularly lovely.

Plage du Martinez. Photo: Irvina Lew


Royal Riviera, Beaulieu sur Mer

This private sandy beach overlooks boats in the Bay of Beaulieu, the exquisite Villa Kerylos perched on the shore and the cliffs at Eze. Families frequent the Royal Riviera and Children are equally at home on the breakfast buffet, the pool or at the beach — where they are gifted with buckets and spades for the sand — at this family-friendly hotel. Kids can paddle board, trampoline, play table tennis or take water ski or swimming lessons. On the patio, at the Jasmin Grill, where you choose to sit determines the view: the swimming pool and garden or the exquisite seaside-to-cliffs topography.


Negresco, Nice

In Nice, a wide seafront promenade separates the pebbly shorefront from the broad, tree-lined Promenade des Anglais. The promenade has a dedicated bicycle lane, hundreds of iconic blue chairs and is studded with white, shaded-structures with seating. Neptune Plage, the private club affiliated with The Negresco — a posh hotel furnished with antiques, charm and whimsy that’s affiliated with Leading Hotels of the World — boasts blue-and-white striped umbrellas and a seafood restaurant and separated from the public beach by a low picket fence.

Neptune Plage and public beach, Nice. Photo: Irvina Lew

Hotel du Cap d’Antibes Eden Roc

Reserve one of the rustic cabins by a bit of sand on this exclusive, shaded, park-like estate called Hotel du Cap d’Antibes Eden Roc and savor a view that stretches from Cap d’Antibes to Cannes to the Lérins Islands. Footsteps away in the seafront Eden Roc complex, the chic Le Grill and the posh Le Cap restaurants view the iconic seawater pool, blasted from the rocks — the daredevils who delight on the trapeze above the sea by diving off or jumping in and climbing high to do it again and again.


Hotel Martinez, Cannes

Hotel Martinez attracted the beau monde since its debut in the 1930s and was among the first to import fine sand for its guests. Descend the ship-like steps to La Plage by Martinez to reach the wide white pier that juts out to the sea. At the end of the pier, beyond the beautiful sunbathers, kids don life preservers for les sports nautiques: tubing, water skiing and parasailing in colorful rafts and boats. There are also rows of transats on the sand, where toddlers play by the shore and a marvelous outdoor restaurant, where some folks dine in business clothes, others in beach cover-ups. In season, there’s dinner, music, dancing and even occasional fireworks.

Water Toys, Plage du Martinez, Cannes. Photo: Irvina Lew

Byblos Beach, Saint- Tropez

The newest beach to welcome Saint-Tropez visitors is Byblos Beach, one of the private clubs along Ramatuelle’s glamourous coast, which offer double sunbeds, umbrellas and stunning, shaded seafood restaurants, just a short drive distant from the port village. Here, Executive Chef Rocco Seminara from Cucina Byblos serves exquisite Mediterranean food. Near to Le Byblos hotel (and down the hill), Les Graniers beach offers a sliver of sand facing Colombiers Bay and simple, Michelin-recognized fare served on a postage stamp-sized wooden deck.


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