Honfleur - Normandy
France Travel Inspiration

Best Coastal Towns in France

08/02/2020

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One of the best parts of vacation is feeling like you’re getting away – from your work, your regular life – and slow down, and relax. If you can do this in one of the most beautiful coastal towns of France enjoying good food & wine and long beach walks, then it’s heaven.

From the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel, the French coast is full of picturesque little towns with colorful fishing ports and wild, beautiful sea views. Here are some of our favorites French coastal towns that combine to perfection nature and cultural heritage.

Best Way to Explore the Coastal Towns in France

The best way to reach these French seaside towns is by car as public transportation to these places is scarce, especially on the weekends.

Having your own car will also allow you to explore other interesting sights nearby. If you don’t have a car in France, we recommend traveling by train to the closest city and rent it from there.

>> Browse the Car Rental Companies operating in France

 

Barfleur, Normandy

Barfleur - Normandy

Barfleur is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Northern France. This cute little town in the department of Manche, Normandy, has charming granite houses and a picturesque fishing port.

Amongst Barfleur’s architecture outstands the massive, almost fortified church which has the particularity of having an octagonal domed chapel and an arrowless bell tower.

Don’t miss the arrival of the fish on the port’s quay, a great opportunity to get a glimpse of local life.

If you love mussels, Barfleur is the right place to be! Whilst most of the mussels of France come from livestock, Barfleur’s mussels are fished in the East of Cotentin. Mussels & white wine in one of the small restaurants on the port is one of our favorite pleasures of Barfleur.

What to Do in Barfleur

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, fishing
  • Hiking, Biking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Barfleur

There are not many accommodation options in Barfleur. We recommend La Villa Gervaiserie, located at 6km from Barfleur. This charming place in an exceptional location by the beach proposes spacious rooms with balcony and ocean views and a good breakfast in the garden.

Click here to book your stay at La Villa Gervaiserie 

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Cancale, Brittany

Cancale - Brittany

Cancale, on the coast of Brittany, is world-known for its oysters but of course, there is much more! Behind this picturesque fishing port there’s a beautiful traditional architecture, an attractive sand beach, and breathtaking views over the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

Cancale is part of the famous GR34 Sentier des Douaniers (old customs officer’s path) a multi-day hike that runs along the Britton coast. Whether you want to head north around the wild headland of the Pointe de Grouin or west along the Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, you will find wonderful landscapes, secluded beaches, and other beautiful coastal towns everywhere.

What to Do in Cancale

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Hiking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Cancale

Click here to book your stay in Cancale

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Cassis, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur

Cassis

Cassis is a cute fishing town located at one of the sides of the Parc National des Calanques de Marseille – Cassis. This picturesque town, so typical of Provence, is the perfect place for a weekend of “fare niente” by the Mediterranean Sea or to explore the famous Calanques.

When you visit Cassis, don’t miss the Château de Cassis. This former fortified castle built in the 8th century offers a superb view of Cassis, the port, the bay, but also the vineyard. Today, the castle proposes a bed & breakfast service and can also be rented for private events.

Cassis also produces wines, mostly whites. The Cassis vineyard has the merit to exist since the arrival of the Greeks on the French territory, that is about 2600 years ago!

What to Do in Cassis

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Hiking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Cassis

Click here to book your stay in Cassis

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Collioure, Occitanie

Collioure - Occitanie

Collioure, in the Catalan country, is one of the most beautiful south of France coastal towns, nestled between terraced vineyards and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Collioure’s light and colors inspired artists like Matisse, or Derain, who created the Fauvism art movement characterized by the use of bright colors.

Collioure is perfect for a short holiday by the sea. Visit the Château Royal, home of the Kings of Mallorca in the 13th century. Stroll along the town’s winding lanes, savor a glass of wine on the café terraces with sea views, visit the town’s beaches and creeks for a bath. In Collioure, life is beautiful!

What to Do in Collioure

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Hiking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Collioure

Click here to book your stay in Collioure

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Grimaud, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur

Grimaud - Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Grimaud is a town located in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, in the French Riviera. Grimaud combines to perfection the charms of a medieval village with a colorful marina and beach fun (Port Grimaud).

In medieval Grimaud, there is a castle with an impressive view over the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, a church, a windmill, chapels, and streets that are typical of Provence and the Middle Ages.

Port Grimaud, instead, is the buzzing part of the town, a little Venice in the heart of Saint-Tropez Gulf with colorful Provençal style houses and canals everywhere where land and sea are intertwined.

What to Do in Grimaud

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Sightseeing
  • Hiking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Grimaud

Click here to book your stay in Grimaud

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Gruissan, Occitanie

Gruissan - Occitanie

Gruissan is a town perched on a hill above two blue lagoons on the Languedoc coast, an intriguing labyrinth of streets built around a 13th-century castle where it is a pleasure to get lost. But Gruissan is also a seaside town with a typically Mediterranean atmosphere perfect to spend some days by the sea.

Gruissan is one of the best seaside towns France has to offer. Grissau is characterized by its typical houses built on stilts on the beach. It also has a colorful marina full of boats and yachts, buzzing with bars, and restaurants.

Whether you want a relaxing holiday or a most active stay with activities like for surfing, water skiing, or land yachting, Gruissan won’t disappoint. Gruissan also offers the pleasures of the table, with food from the land and the sea, wines, and its delicious local pine-nut tart.

What to Do in Gruissan

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Hiking, mountain bike
  • Sightseeing
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Gruissan

Click here to book your stay in Gruissan

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Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur - Normandy, France

Honfleur is one of the best coastal towns in France and also the most popular of this list. Honfleur is a wonderful destination on the coast of Normandy, located where the Seine River meets the ocean. Honfleur is a perfect ensemble of picturesque alleys, small shops and restaurants, and traditional architecture of half-timbered façades.

The Old Basin and the Lieutenancy are the symbols of Honfleur, but there are many more attractions like Sainte-Catherine Church (made of wood), the colorful market, or the Chapel Notre Dame de Grâce.

Set your base in Honfleur for an epicurean getaway and explore other coastal places nearby like Deauville, or Cabourg.

What to Do in Honfleur

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea cruises
  • Sightseeing
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Honfleur

Click here to book your stay in Honfleur

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Landerneau, Brittany

Landerneau - Brittany

Landerneau, located in the Bay of Brest, is a lively town between the river Elorn and the ocean. Landerneau has a remarkable architectural heritage, with a historic trail dotted with beautiful churches and elegant residences dating from the 16th to the 19th century.

Amongst all this beautiful heritage outstands the Rohan Bridge, the only bridge in Europe still inhabited.  Built during the 16th century to replace a wooden structure that dated back to the 12th century, the bridge has been home to generations of wealthy artisans and linen merchants for more than 500 years.

When the sun shines, don’t miss a stroll along Landerneau’s colorful riverbanks full of charm.

What to Do in Landerneau

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sightseeing
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Landerneau

Click here to book your stay in Landerneau

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Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Saint Jean de Luz - French Basque Country

This list of best French coastal towns could not be complete without a bit of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a picturesque coastal town in the French Basque Country, a must-stop of any French Basque Country road trip, with a rich history and beautiful architecture.

Saint-Jean-de Luz was a village of whale-hunters which became a privateers’ town. In 1660, Saint Jean de Luz hosted King Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain’s wedding because of its ideal location right on the border of France and Spain.

Wander around the town for a bit of sightseeing. Visit the harbor with the view of the Rhune mountain on the left, Ciboure town, and Maurice Ravel’s house on the opposite side, and the pink Maison de l’Infante and Place Louis XIV on the right.

But of course, in Saint-Jean-de-Luz you also want to enjoy a coastal walk to admire the landscape and typical houses. Not far from the Grande Plage, you can visit Saint-Jean-de Luz Church (Église Saint-Jean Baptiste) with its wooden galleries, boat shape, and colorful altarpiece.

What to Do in Saint-Jean-de-Luz

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Sightseeing
  • Hiking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Click here to book your stay in Saint-Jean-de-Luz

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Saint-Martin-de-Ré, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Ars-en-Ré - Ile-de-Ré

Saint Martin-de-Ré is a charming port- town is located on Ile-de-Ré, in the department of Poitou-Charentes. It is an attractive and popular destination amongst the French, with a lively atmosphere, especially around the port.

Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a fortified town, with 12 km of fortifications dating back to the 17th-century but extensively modified later by Vauban. These fortifications were built to protect Saint-Martin from the English, who, by the way, never came around.

Explore the town’s narrow, cobbled streets. Many of the houses around the port date from the 17th to 18th centuries, and seem to have changed little over the past three centuries.

Then walk uphill to the old church. The church has a bell tower you can climb to admire the panorama of Saint Martin and the sea, and it’s also the best way to see the overall design of the fortifications that surround the city.

What to Do in Saint-Martin-de-Ré

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sea sports, beach, sunbath
  • Sightseeing
  • Hiking, biking
  • Gastronomy

Where to Sleep in Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Click here to book your stay in Saint-Martin-de-Ré

So there you have it, the list of the French coastal towns to visit!  Now all you need to do is decide which French beach towns you will visit (but we suggest to do them all!).

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