We are based in Cannes when we travel, and I agree with Catullus that if "beach" was what you want for my trip, Cannes would be my choice. Besides the sandy beach, I think Cannes is the best location for ocean view dining.
That said, also look towards Antibes/Juan les Pins, Villefranche sur Mer, and Beaulieu sur Mer/Cap Ferrat. Nice's beach is "stoney," but don't miss it. The sound of the currents passing over the stones is lovely and something I don't know that I've experienced anywhere else.
Add sandy Juan les Pins to above. In terms of stunning scenery 'best' is Villefranche altho' the beach itself is smallish. The tiny and equally stunning Garoupe Beach on the Cap d'Antibes has to be included if you are literary and have read F Scott Fitzgerald's 'Tender is the Night'. And of course if its famous pebbles ( which are protected for conservation reasons) come into your definition we would have to include Nice itself as among the best, especially for the unique colour of the sea in Nice.
One bonus about beaches here - sandy or pebbly - the tide doesn't go out.
Ed.Edited: 22 July 2013, 07:32
Plage de la Garoupe...as always, Ed has got it right.
If I would stay one day in Nice private beach area, which one to choose? I’m not much of a swimmer, but would like to dip into the Mediterranean Sea. Is Beau Rivage good, I’ve tried to read about the Nice beach area, but could not figure out which one to try. And also are they so crowded that I should book beforehand, if going before 10 am. We (2 person) will be in Nice 28.7.-1.8.
Here is an interesting website that might help you sort through the info that could be a bit overwhelming at this point:
This is, admittedly, one writer's perception and "your guide to all the beaches of the French Riviera" may be a stretch, but as you weigh your options, the maps, especially, and the public/private lists might help you get oriented. To get a broader picture of what you might expect, move the maps around and follow the links for additional info.
Thank you, list is great. I will have a good look at it and surely will find my spot. :)
Except for the private areas along the beach in Nice, the rest is free. There are free beaches in Cannes as well.
All beaches in Antibes are public and free.