Hop out of bed and into the sea at these dreamy beachfront hotels along France’s coast.
Encircled by over 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of coastline, France boasts some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches. From the glamorous hotspots of the French Riviera to the windswept shores of Brittany, from the historic seaside resorts of the Atlantic coast to the silky sand and turquoise waters of Corsica, there’s a beach to be found for every type of traveler. Despite this wealth of beaches, there are surprisingly few hotels right on their sands. If you’re headed to the French coast, consider booking one of these stunning ocean-front hotels.
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
WHERE: Cap d’Antibes
Regally poised within a private estate on the tip of Cap d’Antibes is one of the French Riviera’s most mythical hotels. First conceived as a writer’s retreat in 1870, the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc has hosted such illustrious guests as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Greta Garbo, and Kirk Douglas. Exuding refined French elegance, guest rooms at the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc have private garden terraces or stunning sea views whose beauty is only rivaled by that of the hotel’s clientele. The sparkling Mediterranean can also be admired from the saltwater infinity pool, sunny pool deck, or the dining room of its newly awarded Michelin-starred restaurant. Although the hotel doesn’t have a large beach, guests can book private daytime cabanas with their own sandy areas and ocean access.
Regarded as a favorite among celebrities attending the Cannes Film Festival, the art deco-era Le Majestic has the largest private beach on the city’s famous Croisette. Recently given a facelift, the beach club has a boho-chic vibe, rows of sunbeds, and a restaurant set on a pier jutting majestically into the sea. Back at the swanky hotel, you’ll find two other restaurants—including a branch of the ritzy Parisian brasserie, Fouquet’s—and a champagne bar bordering the heated pool. The hotel’s spacious sea view rooms and opulent suites, the best of which overlook the Palais des Festivals, are perfect for watching the stars strut their stuff on the red carpet.
Cheval Blanc St-Tropez
A new addition to the expanding collection of Cheval Blanc hotels, the ultra-exclusive Cheval Blanc St-Tropez presides over a private sandy beach at the edge of this glamorous Riviera destination. Sleek rooms overlook either the verdant courtyard or a horizon of undulating coastline and glimmering sea dotted with sailboats and mega-yachts. Guests have access to the beach club, dreamily-set infinity pool, spa by Guerlain, Haute-mixology bar, and two restaurants (including the three-Michelin starred, La Vague d’Or).
Mas du Langoustier
The charming Provencal-style Mas du Langoustier is nestled within a vast private park on the picturesque island of Porquerolles, a 30-minute ferry ride off the south coast near Toulon. The perfect place to unwind and connect with nature, much of the interior of the small island is a protected national reserve, and its coast is fringed with turquoise waters, scenic coves, and pristine beaches. Two of the most beautiful beaches can be found at the edge of the hotel’s property. When you’re not lounging on one of them, you can relax next to the hotel’s pool, soothed by the symphony of buzzing cicadas.
The family-friendly beaches of the Languedoc region became decidedly cooler with the 2019 arrival of Plage Palace, the south of France outpost of Paris’ fashionable Hôtel Costes. The two-story cubist building sits on a private sandy beach in Palavas-Les-Flots, a short drive from the Montpellier airport and high-speed train station. Most rooms have balconies and expansive sea views, while the rest have terraces surrounded by gardens and refreshing pines. A short boardwalk takes you down to the beach, decked out in sunbeds, umbrellas, and chic Parisians.
WHERE: Cap Corse, Corsica
A stylish eco-friendly retreat, the Hotel Misincu is perched above a gorgeous beach on the wild coastline of Cap Corse, a 40-kilometer (25-mile) long peninsula in northern Corsica. Despite its Mediterranean location, you might think you’re in Greece owing to the hotel’s Cycladic design, with vast arched windows and white-washed walls. Donning earth-toned textiles, driftwood sculptures, and linen bedding, an organic feel prevails throughout the 29 spacious rooms and seven villas with private plunge pools. It’s barefoot luxury at its best; when you’re not chilling out in the spa, nibbling on farm-to-table food on its 360-degree terrace, or cooling down in the infinity pool, you can take an amble down to the paradisiacal beach.
Hôtel & Spa des Pêcheurs
WHERE: Cavallo Island
Built onto a craggy point of little-known Cavallo Island, located between Corsica and Sardinia, the Hôtel & Spa des Pêcheurs has its own private beach bordered by the crystal-clear waters of the central Mediterranean. In addition to its powdery beach, the hotel has a pool overlooking the sea. You can maximize your aquatic immersion by booking one of its Overwater Privilege rooms with balconies built over the sea. Alternatively, get to know the Mediterranean on a deeper level by taking a diving excursion to explore nearby shipwrecks and swim with silvery barracudas.
Hôtel du Palais
Initially built in 1854 as the summer residence of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, Biarritz’s sumptuous Hôtel du Palais is one of France’s most legendary seaside hotels. Tragically ravaged by a fire in 1903, the hotel has since been restored several times, all the while retaining an elegant Second-Empire style, complete with wood-framed armchairs, crystal chandeliers, and molded ceilings. Contrasting this classicism, the hotel’s Imperial Beach Club is unquestionably 21st-century thanks to its curvaceous infinity pool and stylish terrace facing the vast beaches of Biarritz and crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
WHERE: La Teste-de-Buch
Crowning the Pyla Dune on the dreamy Bay of Arcachon, southwest of Bordeaux, this 1930s establishment was recently transformed by Philippe Starck into the French Atlantic coast’s most stylish hotel. With a hip, beach-house vibe, the spacious and bright guest rooms of La Co(o)rniche have white wood-paneled walls, seaside souvenirs, funky mirrors to accentuate the natural light, and large terraces. Continue to breathe in the fresh Atlantic Ocean breeze from the hotel’s pool or on long walks along the breathtaking beach and dunes.
WHERE: l’Île de Ré
Holiday with the French at this newly renovated hotel on l’Île de Ré, one of the country’s favorite islands. Connected by a bridge to the coastal city of La Rochelle, the postcard-perfect and flat island is ideal for biking, sampling its top-grade oysters, and eating ice cream on the beach. L’Hôtel Le Richelieu sits on the lovely Arnerault Beach in the posh town of La Flotte. Rooms feature classic modern decor, private balconies, terraces with sun loungers, and ocean vistas.
WHERE: La Baule
Although much of the eight kilometers (five miles) of Europe’s longest beach is unfortunately flanked by concrete buildings, the historical spirit of the celebrated seaside resort of La Baule is kept alive at this iconic hotel. Built in the 1920s, when the Anglo-Norman style was all the rage for coastal architecture, the interiors of the 207-room L’Hermitage were modernized by designer Chantal Peyrat in 2017. A pale color scheme, minimalist furnishings, and vintage prints of the resort’s heyday allow for the sweeping views of the bay to steal the show. Alternate your time between the hotel’s long pool, its Eden beach club and restaurant, its neighboring, newly redesigned thalasso spa, the casino, and hunting down handsome historic villas through the town’s backstreets.
Castel Beau Site
True to its name, the Castel Beau Site sits on a very beautiful site, just above the lovely Saint Guirec beach on the Pink Granite Coast of Brittany. Built in 1928, the oversized traditional Breton stone manor has 32 recently refurbished rooms. Fear not if yours doesn’t offer a view of the curved beach; you can savor it from the jacuzzi on the hotel’s terrace or while dining on the fresh catch-of-the-day at its panoramic restaurant, La Table de Mon Père.
Le Grand Hôtel des Thermes
A grande dame of France’s northwestern coast, the late 19th-century Grand Hôtel des Thermes has the enchanting backdrop of the fortified city of St-Malo and is home to an excellent thalasso spa. After pampering yourself with a therapeutic seawater treatment, gaze out at the waters of the English Channel from one of the hotel’s glass-encased restaurants, take a leisurely stroll along the promenade of Sillon Beach, or wander the laneways and ramparts of St-Malo.
The jewel of the posh seaside resort of Deauville, Le Normandy blends modern luxury with traditional Normand style, expressed via its half-timbered architecture and rooms enrobed in Toile de Jouy patterns. Walking its halls, you’ll come across photos of the hotel’s former high-profile guests like Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, the Prince of Wales, as well as the many movie stars who come for the town’s annual American Film Festival. You can find further nods to Deauville’s cinema culture while sauntering down its Promenade des Planches boardwalk lined with bathing houses and dividers bearing the names of la crème de la crème of Hollywood. The promenade will also lead you to Le Normandy’s chic beach club and seafood restaurant, where you can continue gazing out at Deauville’s vast beach.
Le Grand Hôtel Cabourg
One of the most acclaimed seaside hotels of the Belle Époque, the elegant Grand Hôtel Cabourg stands gracefully on beautiful Cabourg beach, situated on the Normandy coast not far from the historic D-Day beaches. A much-loved getaway of Marcel Proust, the French writer immortalized the hotel in his opus In Search of Lost Time. You can sleep in the reconstruction of his room (number 414), which features early-20th-century decor. However, you might be more comfortable in their standard rooms and suites with classy, contemporary furnishings and soaring vistas of the beach and sea.