Honfleur - Normandy
France Travel Inspiration

Best Coastal Towns in France

12/29/2020

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Best Beach Towns in France

One of the best parts of vacation is feeling like you’re getting away – from your work, regular life -, and slowing down for some days of relaxation. 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 coast of France is full of picturesque little towns with colorful fishing ports and wild, beautiful sea views.

If you are looking for a charming place to stay on the French coast, we can help. Go on reading for the best French coastal towns that combine to perfection nature and cultural heritage.

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Best Way to Explore the French Coastal Towns

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

Driving in France is very easy, and 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 hire a car from there.

>> Browse the Car Rental Companies operating in France

Top French Seaside Towns

Here’s the roundup of the best French seaside towns with some recommendations on what to visit and where to stay.

  • Northern France coastal towns: Barfleur and Honfleur
  • Western France beach towns: Cancale, Landerneau, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Saint-Martin de-Ré
  • Southern France coastal towns: Collioure, Gruissan, Grimaud, Cassis, Erbalunga.

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 in Normandy, has charming granite houses, a picturesque fishing port and a fortified church which has the particularity of having an octagonal domed chapel and an arrowless bell tower.

Don’t miss the fish arrival 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! While most of France’s mussels come from livestock, Barfleur’s mussels are fished in the East of Cotentin Peninsula. Mussels & white wine in one of the port’s small restaurants is one of our favorite pleasures in Barfleur.

WHAT TO DO IN BARFLEUR

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

WHERE TO SLEEP IN BARFLEUR

Barfleur is small, and there are not many accommodation options in town. We recommend La Villa Gervaiserie, located at 6km from Barfleur. This charming place in an exceptional beach location 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 

Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur - Normandy, France

Honfleur is one of the best coastal towns in France. Honfleur is located where the Seine River meets the ocean, and it is the 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 the town boasts many other attractions like Sainte-Catherine Church (made of wood), the colorful market, or the Chapel Notre Dame de Grâce.

Honfleur is one of the top places to visit in Normandy. 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

Cancale, Brittany

Cancale - Brittany

Cancale, on the coast of Brittany in Western France, is world-known for its oysters, but of course, there is much more! There’s beautiful traditional architecture behind this picturesque fishing port, an attractive sand beach, and breathtaking views over Mont-Saint-Michel’s bay 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 Breton coast. Along this path, expect wonderful landscapes, secluded beaches, and other beautiful French coastal towns.

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

Landerneau, Brittany

Landerneau - Brittany

Landerneau, located in the Bay of Brest in Brittany, 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.

Landerneau’s top attraction is the Rohan Bridge, the only bridge in Europe still inhabited. The bridge was built during the 16th century to replace a wooden structure that dated back to the 12th century, and it has been home to generations of wealthy artisans and linen merchants for more than 500 years.

When the sun shines, the stroll along Landerneau’s colorful riverbanks is full of charm.

WHAT TO DO IN LANDERENAU

  • Coastal walks, relax
  • Sightseeing
  • Gastronomy

WHERE TO SLEEP IN LANDERENAU

Click here to book your stay in Landerneau

Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Saint Jean de Luz - French Basque Country

This list of best seaside towns in France 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 France – Spain.

Wander around the town to admire its main sights. Visit the harbor with a view over the Rhune Mountain on the left, Ciboure town, 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

Saint-Martin-de-Ré, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Ars-en-Ré - Ile-de-Ré

Saint Martin-de-Ré is a charming French coastal town located on Ile-de-Ré, one of the best French islands in Western France. Saint Martin-de-Ré (and all Ile-de-Ré) is an attractive and popular summer 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 they 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 surrounding the town.

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

Collioure, Occitanie

Collioure - Occitanie

Collioure is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the Catalan Country in Southern France, nestled between terraced vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea’s turquoise waters.

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 one of the best French beach towns 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 dip. 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

Gruissan, Occitanie

Gruissan - Occitanie

Gruissan, on the Languedoc coast in the region of Occitanie, is a town with two parts. There’s the town perched on a hill – an intriguing labyrinth of streets built around a 13th-century castle where it is a pleasure to get lost – and there’s the seaside town with a typically Mediterranean atmosphere.

Gruissan’s seaside town is perfect for spending some days on the coast of France. The town 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 surfing, water skiing, or land yachting, Gruissan won’t disappoint. Gruissan also offers the table’s pleasures, with food from the land and the sea, wines, and its delicious local peanut 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

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, in Southern France. This picturesque town near Marseille, so typical of Provence, is one of the best French coastal towns perfect for a weekend of ‘far niente’ by the Mediterranean Sea or to explore the famous Calanques. You can also visit Cassis on a day trip from Nice.

When you are in Cassis, don’t miss the Château de Cassis. This former fortified castle built in the 8th century offers a superb view of the port, the bay, and the surrounding vineyards. 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 Greeks’ arrival on the French territory, about 2600 years ago!

WHAT DO 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

Grimaud, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur

Grimaud - Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Grimaud is one of the most colorful beach towns in France, 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 typical of Provence in 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

Erbalunga, Corsica Island

Corsica Island - France

Erbalunga is a charming ancient village located on Cap Corse, in Corsica Island. If you start your Corsica road trip from Bastia, Erbalunga will be the first village you will discover.

Erbalunga is a small typical village built on a remarkable site, with a pleasant marina, narrow streets, and colorful houses. There are also the ruins of a Genoese tower listed as a historical monument. The tower was built in the 16th century on a rock at the entrance to its port.

Be sure to book in advance a table at Le Pirate, one of Corsica’s most renowned restaurants, located in Erbalunga’s port. It is a bit expensive, but you are getting the best of Corsica’s cuisine.

If you’re visiting Erbalunga in August, don’t miss its famous Music Festival entirely dedicated to French and Corsican singers.

WHAT TO DO IN ERBALUNGA

  • Coastal walk, relax
  • Sunbath
  • Sightseeing
  • Gastronomy

WHERE TO SLEEP IN ERBALUNGA

Click here to book your stay in Erbalunga

So there you have it, the list of the best coastal towns in France to visit. In France, beach towns are varied, and there’s an ideal French beach town for everyone. Now, all you need to do is decide which France seaside towns you want to visit (but we suggest doing them all!).

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