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Beaches in Nice
The beach in Nice more or less starts at the airport and curves around the Bay of Angels for about three miles, all the way to the Port just beyond the Chateau Hill. The beach is composed of smooth pebbles or rocks called galets. If you long for soft white sand, then Nice is not for you, you need to head west to Antibes and beyond. A good compromise is the gritty soft shale at Villefranche, an attractive village just east of Nice.
Along the beach, there are private beach concessions, marked out and fenced off. They are spaced out fairly evenly along the Promenade des Anglais, the 6-lane coastal highway that separates the beach from the hotels and apartments. There are 15 of these private beach concessions along the length of the Prom. All the areas in between the private beaches are public and open to everyone. It is ok to walk the length of the beach at Nice by staying close to the sea - this is a public right of way and you can walk through the private beaches this way to reach the public areas.
If you wish to use the public beaches in Nice, just come down the steps, pick your spec and put down a towel. The pebbles are very uncomfortable so a padded beach mat is useful, plus a small parasol for shade. A pair of plastic ‘jelly’ shoes for swimming is extremely useful - those pebbles make going for a swim very painful work. There are very limited facilities on the public areas, a few open showers and portaloos. There are however about three public beaches in Nice that have good facilities for a small fee, for example the Plage Publique de Beau Rivage. For a few euros, there are nice loos, showers, changing rooms and security lockers, makes life far more pleasant on the public beach. It’s a nice place to have a picnic, you could buy the food you need from the market at the Cours Saleya. If you forget, don’t worry, there are several sellers doing the rounds on the beach selling beer, doughnuts, coffee etc. It’s also ok to go a buy a coffee or a beer from a nearby private beach and so earn the right to use the facilities if you’re desperate!
The private beaches are expensive but the main benefits are the proper sun-lounger, parasol and table. This keeps you off the hard pebbles and out of the fierce sun if you wish. It’s very handy to have access to showers, loos, changing facilities etc Also, there is waiter service so you can have drinks and food brought to your side. There will be a restaurant area too for a proper lunch. You are expected to cover up if you eat in the restaurant area. Often there are two menus; a proper lunchtime menu and a snack-type menu only for those eating on the beach and not at a table in the restaurant. Some of the private beaches have small freshwater paddling pools for young children. The sea at Nice shelves steeply and has a strong drag so it is not suitable for very young children. You are not allowed to bring your own picnic on the private beaches but you may of course leave the beach and have lunch somewhere else and return to your lounger later on.
The cost of the private beaches varies from about 10 euros a day to about 18 euros a day. This is for one person to use a sun-lounger. Extra costs are incurred if you require a parasol and towels. Some places will let you have an account and pay at the end of the day, totting up all the coffees, drinks and ice-creams etc. All the private beaches are so different, the Beau Rivage is smart and the facilities are clean, others are fairly grim but will be cheaper. Castel Plage is quite a trendy place and is very gay-friendly. The Blue Beach has a great little pool for toddlers and the Sporting Beach next door - handy if you have teenagers wishing to paraglide. If you walk along the Prom, all the private beaches have their costs and menus on display so you can compare the differences. Some are affiliated to Hotels along the Prom and offer a small discount to hotel guests. The Nice tourist Office website lists the private beaches here , along with the contact numbers. During high season, it may be necessary to reserve your sun-lounger in advance.
View of the beach in Nice from the Chateau all the way to the airport