Every year, hoards of people from all around the world flock to southern Europe to soak up the Mediterranean sun. A European summer has an air of sophistication about it, and nowhere more so than in the South of France, known as a playground for the wealthy elite.
Those with plenty of money behind them board yachts and spend the long, sunny days bobbing just far enough out from the coastline to have a bit of open space, while backpackers and everyone else tiptoe between the people squeezed onto the beaches. But whichever category you fall into, the South of France is an unrivalled European summer destination. And the reason for this is a combination of atmosphere, unrivalled beauty and reputation.
However, one thing the region is also known for is its rocky beaches.
For Norman Peires, a successful entrepreneur who resides partly in the town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the South of France, the beaches are its only downside. Having grown up in South Africa surfing the western coast of the country in an area called Muizenberg, long sandy stretches are a must for any good beach. What’s more, having built a career in the travel sector and explored the world for both business and leisure, he’s seen his fair share of beautiful coastlines. And even in the South of France it’s possible to find these gems. You just have to know where to look. Luckily, Norman Peires does, and his top picks are as follows:
This wide expanse of golden sand has all the characteristics of a quintessential beach. There’s plenty of space, the sand is soft, the sea blue, and the temperature warm. Families will appreciate being able to spread themselves out, as well as the calm water, and even though it’s very popular in summer, the beach has managed to avoid being overexposed to shops and restaurants which all too often crowd the surrounding beaches.
Surrounded by rocky hills, Le Racou beach is tucked into a little bay, away from prying eyes – or at least, lots of tourists. The water is translucent blue, and while most people head to the other beaches nearby, Plage Nord and Plage des Pins, Le Racou remains relatively quiet. If you’re feeling up to it, you can take the scenic hike from Le Racou to Collioure (about 2-3 hours all up), which begins at the far end of the beach, winding around the hillside.
If you’re looking for sandy beaches, Corsica is the place to go. By ferry, it’s about an eight- hour trip from the mainland; by private boat, it’s about five hours; and by plane, about 35 minutes. However you get there, it’s well worth the trip. The island is surrounded with sand, but Porto Pollo is the pick of the bunch. This wide arc of sand curves around the south-west side of the island and has a backdrop of wild green hills. The snorkelling here is sensational.
Situated in the centre of Cap d’Agde, this beautiful span of sand comes with fantastic views from the beach-side restaurant, which is a great place to sit and relax when you’ve had enough of the sun. There’s a long boardwalk leading down to the sand, and more than enough room for every man and his dog to find a spot on the sand.