Mediterranean Beaches are not truly comparable with those of the Caribbean or Pacific. The water is cooler and the sand generally coarser or even pebbles. Pretty shady, palm tree fringes are also rare, though hot sunshine, good food nearby, friendly locals and low prices are common. The beaches are best May-Oct, though the water is still a little chilly up to June and, of course, crowded July-Aug.
Surf: Good surf is very unusual in the Mediterranean; the Atlantic Ocean is the accepted place for wave riding.
Greece, Turkey and Spain's Balearic Islands have Mediterranean beaches but the guides are on dedicated pages. Also see these beach photo pages: Greece Beach Pictures | Turkey Beach France:
Cannes vs Nice
Unlike stony Nice, their bigger rival a few kilometres along the Côte d'Azur, Cannes has sandy beaches that are small but offer a reasonable amount of rent-free space while nearby cafés serve excellent food at reasonable prices. The promenade is as pleasant to stroll as Nice's and a lot less traffic, though shorter.
However, Cannes' buildings are frequently drab compared to some of Nice's magnificent old structures while Nice's shopping, strolling, eating out scenes and night life are more varied and lively.
Furthermore, Nice is a real French city with a wonderful daily market whereas Cannes seems totally tuned to tourism. Street parking near Nice beaches is not easy but Cannes is worse. Pay carparks are the best option. Town traffic may be heavy in both towns.
Côte d'Azur beaches, the less-well-known strands can be very characterful and fun if you can find a place to park. Get there early!
St Tropez has one of those resounding, sexy names, like Marrakesh and Khatmandu but sadly without the same fulfilment these days.
It's a a great place with good size beaches, but writhing crowds and massive traffic jams [it took the bug crew 1 hour to drive to near St Trop from Cannes and 2 hours to travel the last 5 kms]. Not a recommended holiday spot for normal mortals with thin wallets or crowd phobias. Get there by ferry from Cannes or St Maxime if you must. St Tropez Beach Pictures.
Juans-les-Pins and Antibes beaches, overcooked and undersanded.
Menton, practically next door to Italy, is fairly quiet with a fine micro-climate, some stylish architecture and a couple of OK beaches.
Cap d'Agde near Montpellier is naturist-friendly, in other words get your kit off. Not just in terms of nudist beaches but the entire city - from restaurants to banks - goes for the natural look.
This French island is sophisticated, flashy and one of the best places for water sports in the Mediterranean. Corsica's 600 miles of coastline has numerous deserted shores and secluded coves.
St Restitude, near Calvi [North West]: St Restitude is the place for a peaceful hideaway. A secluded small beach backed by pine woods, with soft sand and clean water.
Palombaggia Beach, Santa-Giulia Beach, Golfe di Sogno Beach, near Porto-Vecchio [South East]:
Port Vecchio is an upmarket resort town spread over a rocky hill with its own beach, a yacht marina, lively streets, and good range of accommodation, cafes, and restaurants.
The best beach is Palombaggia Beach, southeast of the town, a perfect crescent of white sand sandwiched between an azure sea and a cluster of dunes, with an excellent beach restaurant; other pristine beaches are Santa Giulia Beach [good for watersports] a few miles to south, and around Golfe di Sogno to the north.
For more isolation take a boat or have a very long walk from St Florent across to either Saleccia Beach or Loto Beach. Neither have facilities or many visitors, just lots of soft yellow sand - including a mini-desert - and clear water. Saleccia has a camp site beside the desert. See Corsica beaches page
Best May-June, & Sept. OK July-Aug , though hot and crowded like the rest of Europe.