Forget the Hamptons: 10 French Beaches That Are Straight-Up Swoonworthy

paloma beach
Photo: Onnes
Planning a seaside getaway this summer? Skip the Hamptons and head straight to France for sandy beaches with a certain je ne sais quoi.

For many travelers, a visit to France often entails big-city adventures that leave much of the country's most charming spots unexplored. France is made up of a myriad of distinct regions that have their own microcultures, history and flavors, so why deny yourself the opportunity to delve deeper into the French mystique and soak up all those feel-good Gallic vibes?

For an unforgettable seaside holiday, France boasts more than its fair share of picturesque coastline and sandy beaches worthy of your travel to-do list. From the cliffs of Normandy to the tropical oasis that is Corsica, there are endless landscapes and post-card-ready locations to suit every taste. Read on for # beach trips that will put your annual trip to the Hamptons to shame.

  1. Palombaggia, Corsica

    palombaggia
    Photo by Andreas Arnold

    You don't have to venture to the tropics for turquoise waters and white sand beaches — a trip to Corsica will do the trick. Dubbed as the most beautiful beach on the island, Palombaggia leaves little to be desired. The 6km stretch of sand is bordered by shady evergreen forest, adding a unique element to the landscape, and dotted with terracotta-colored boulders. After soaking up the sun, head to the throng of bars and restaurants along the bay for a bite to eat and brilliant views.

  2. Étretat, Normandy

    normandy
    Photo by Visionsurf

    The South of France and the Côte d'Azur are stunning spots for a stint along the shoreline, but the northern region of Normandy has just as much to offer. Limestone cliffs, breathtaking sunsets, Belle Époque charm and the Falaises d'Étretat, which inspired some of history's most illustrious artists, including Monet and Courbet, are just some of the things you can expect from this scenic spot.

  3. Dune du Pilat, Arcachon

    dune du plait
    Photo by Tree4Two

    Europe's largest sand dune, Dune du Pilat, calls the French town of Arcachon home. You won't need to worry about fighting for a spot to lay down your towel here — with over 1.5 miles of shoreline, there's plenty of room for everyone. After a quick ascent to the top of the dune, make your way down to the water for a refreshing dip, then head into town for freshly shucked oysters and a glass of white Bordeaux.

  4. Le Bois Plage en Ré, Île de Ré

    plage en re
    Photo by Instagram / @anaishh_

    The Île de Ré is known for its laid-back vibes, but it's also a favorite of the fashionable set — so you know it has to be good. Le Bois Plage en Ré is one of area's best spots, with minimal crowds, stretches of sand as far as the eye can see and fresh salt air that will send all your worries packing. If kicking back in the sand isn't your thing, rent a few bikes and take a ride along the boardwalk.

  5. Plage des Marinières, Villefranche-sur-Mer

    villefranche
    Photo by Flavio Vallenari

    In the heart of the French Riviera, just a quick train ride away from Nice, lies the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The town benefits from a unique microclimate that makes leisurely beach days possible even in spring, and the sherbet-colored buildings that dot the stepped coastline lend the quaint locale a cheerful, inviting ambiance. The best part? Plage des Marinières is relatively calm, so you won't be packed in like sardines as you would in neighboring spots.

  6. Plage de Collioure, Collioure

    collioure
    Photo by Richard Semik

    This southwestern gem looks like it's straight out of a movie scene. Between the 17th-century architecture, most notably the Eglise Notre Dame des Anges, mountain vistas and colorful wooden boats dotting the harbor, this gorgeous spot is abounding in Insta-worthy photo ops.

  7. Paloma Beach, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

    paloma beach
    Photo by Onnes

    This swanky spot along France's southern coast is a playground for the rich and beautiful — so be prepared to shell out a few extra bucks. Pull out all the stops and hire a few cushy sunbeds at half-pebble, half-sand water's edge and soak up the sun alongside celebs.

  8. Côte des Basques, Biarritz

    biarritz
    Photo by Peeter Viisimaa

    Basque cuisine, beautiful scenery, a 19th-century chateau and a beach that draws outdoor enthusiasts and sun worshippers alike — Biarritz is truly the place to be in the summertime. There's even a dedicated surfing area for anyone looking to catch a few waves. Beyond the beach there are plenty of chic spots to grab a bite to eat, or relax with a glass of rosé while taking in the ocean views.

  9. Plage de Tahiti, Frioul Islands

    frioul islands
    Photo by Instagram / @leama.nelli

    You'll have to put in a little work (approximately an hour-long hike from the port) to get to this remote spot, but trust us — it's totally worth it. The secluded cove has warm, shallow waters that are great for swimming and rocky outcrops perfect for exploring or spreading out the picnic blanket.

  10. Plage de l’Ecluse, Dinard

    dinard
    Photo by PJPhoto

    Crystal blue waters, a soft sandy beach and views of 19th-century mansions that exude Belle Époque elegance and glamour? Don't mind if we do! Blue-and-white-striped cabanas that line the sand will make you feel like you've stepped straight into a postcard, while the Gulf Stream keeps the water at swimmable temps late into the season.