the choice is all yours
Let me start by pointing out that there is no sand on the beach in Nice. Small areas of sand have been installed for the volleyball courts on Plage Ponchettes and Carras with another sandy area on Plage Beau Rivage for children and events. The beach consists of pebbles, rocks, stones, whatever you may want to call them and yes, they will hurt your feet!
Most beaches will have a sudden drop off at the edge of the shore when you enter the water. This can prove alarming but don’t worry, everyone struggles to get into and out of the Med when they swim in Nice, it’s all part of the experience.
The stunning Baie des Anges has a multitude of public beaches to enjoy. You can choose one in Nice or go a little further afield to just beyond the port. These beaches, Plage Coco, Plage de la Reserve and Plage des Bains Militaires enable you to enjoy sunbathing like a local. Their small size offers an intimate atmosphere and the views are exquisite overlooking either the Baie des Anges or the looming beauty of Mont Boron. All the public beaches, big and small, are stony. These large pebbles hurt so be sure to bring appropriate footwear.
Life Guards and First Aid stations are in place from May to September from 9.00-18.30. The life guards don't just patrol from the beach, they are out in the water making sure no motorised craft such as Jet skis go any closer than three hundred metres to the yellow buoys. This is a good thing because Jet Skis and recreational swimmers can be a dangerous mix.
Portable toilets also arrive in the summer season, cunningly disguised as a series of pebble mountains! They are free and generally located near the life guard stations. There are more permanent toilets located at various points under the promenades Beau Rivage, Forum and Fabron which are open most of the year. Centenaire and Blue Beach are open for the summer season only. These permanent toilets cost: around E0.50 and hot showers cost around: E 1.60 They are attended and hygienic.
Two beaches have full handicapped access, Centenaire and Carras. On these beaches, there are ramps for wheelchair access, special mats on the beach to station the wheelchairs and trained personnel at the First-Aid stations. On Carras there's even an "audioplage" system to aid the visually impaired.
All the beaches along the Promenade des Anglais feature a mountain of pebbles at the water’s edge. While it can be an amusing pastime to watch your fellow sunseekers navigate this obstacle course, it is another thing when it is your turn to go for a swim! Go carefully to maintain your dignity. The water itself can be deceptive, the bank can drop away sharply so always keep an eye and firm grip on your children. Otherwise conditions are calm and fine for experienced swimmers. You can rent canoes, kayaks and rafts, go jet skiing, para sailing or play beach volleyball but not on all the beaches and not all the time. From mid-June to mid-September, head to Carras or Ponchettes for beach volleyball, Opera, Le Sporting, or Blue Beach for paddle rental and Carras for jet skiing.
One way of dealing with the 'stony issue' is to pick up an inexpensive matela. A matela is a lightweight beach mattress that is surprisingly comfortable. They are often available in the classic Riviera blue stripe and can be picked up everywhere from supermarkets to homeware stores along the coast. They come with straps so carrying them is very easy. Just pop one down with your towel on top and laze the day away like a local. Expect to pay anywhere from E 10.00
The size of the Baie des Anges makes it impossible to net so the Medusa Jellyfish have the place to themselves when they make their annual visit. Always check http://meduse.acri.fr/carte/carte.php to see if any are in the area. It is in French but very easy to follow. The weather report in the back of the daily paper Nice Matin will also keep you up to date. If you are stung, seek help at the First Aid Station, you can even invade the privacy of the Private Beach Club. The Medusa sting is the great equaliser on the Riviera., you will be treated kindly and assisted, even if you are not a guest of the club itself.
Beach crime is an increasing problem in Nice. Organised gangs will relieve you of your smart phone, camera, hotel keys, cash and credit cards in the blink of an eye. They will even steal your sunglasses and towels! Take only what you need and leave everything else at home. If a group of young people approach you, don't be shy, tell them to leave you alone in a loud voice. Wave your arms about if necessary. Make a scene. They will vanish before your eyes. Let the life guards know so they can deal with the issue. The same thing applies if you are a woman and find yourself the subject of unwanted male attention. Don't hesitate to let any would be Romeos know that you are not interested. They will usually leave you alone immediately and move onto the next opportunity.
Let me first start by saying that I am not a fan of the Private Beach Club/Restaurant. I am an Aussie & the whole concept of paying to go to the beach is quite bizarre. I am biased of course but our beaches are magnificent & free! What is even more surprising is that people are willing to pay large sums to be treated like suckers by arrogant club managers and staff.
Beach clubs do expect you to eat at their establishment. They will not tolerate you bringing any food stuffs to the beach. If you are seen expect all hell to break loose, if you have special dietary needs or have children, get permission in writing before you go to bring in the food. Gone are the days of relaxed yet efficient service. You can try and be discrete about it, especially if you are feeding small children but you risk public humiliation and possible ejection if you set up a picnic lunch on your sunbed.
In fact, the beach clubs in Nice were very family friendly and offered lots of activities to keep kids occupied while you relax. But sadly, while many do still have designated areas for children to play, you get the feeling they & you are not very welcome. Something that was new to all of us was the introduction of a E 12.00 charge for children under 12 yrs. While this practice is not at all clubs, it seems to be taking hold, unfortunately
For those who are single and ready to mingle, some beaches offer separate child friendly and adult only areas. The former Plage Hi Beach now Spity for example which prides itself with an Ibiza feel, has three areas; Energy, Relaxed and Family. Something for everyone.
Service standards have also declined. Do you need some examples? How about bag searches to check whether you have bought a bottle of water into the club with you? If you decide that you would like to take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, it is likely that you will return to your expensive sunbed to find that your belongings have been removed and another hapless guest has taken your place. Yes, this happens. Plage Opera beach club has a sign stating that you can only leave your sunbeds for a maximum of 30 minutes. Plage Ruhl also has this rule in place, so keep an eye on the clock if you like a long swim on a hot day.
Want to order lunch or a drink? Expect to spend what seems to be an eternity trying to get the attention of the staff, only to be told they don’t serve rude people! Incredibly, this happens on a regular basis. If you don’t believe me, look at the many review sites out there. My friends and family weren’t the only ones to receive this contemptuous treatment. Sadly, it is becoming the norm.
One example is Plage du Sporting Plus. It doesn’t matter if you are a tourist or a local, everyone is equal when it comes to receiving bad service. " If you are a multimillionaire, do come here. If you are not an oligarch, accept the fact you will be put in a beach chair towards the back. If you are poor and have children - like me- you're in the cheap seats! By the toilets!", “Can be very class centric”
Wifi is available at all the clubs. This service is advertised as free. Unfortunately free or not, the wifi service can be very tempermantal,it works it doesn’t who knows
All the Beach clubs in Nice have hessian matting to help you avoid stumbling over the pebbles. Most of the chairs are good quality and the sunbeds offer shades attached to the chair. Happily, comfort is still a consideration at the beach clubs in Nice. Additionally, many of these clubs welcome weekly bookings and incredibly will stick to the quoted price. You can save lots if you take this route. It does mean sticking to one club but honestly, one is much like another.
Caution is still necessary at the end of the day when you get the bill. The good old bill con is still occurring so check carefully for any strange additions and mysterious fees. Point them out politely and the management will usually remove them without fuss (in theory anyway) . Sadly, the draconian 'no refund' policy is in place here too. Visitor beware when it comes to bad weather, jelly fish, bad food or service. No refunds, no mercy. C'est la vie!
Wondering how much all this fun in the sun will cost you? Well depending on the season, where you sit & the mangers mood from E 20.00 -E 30.00 for sunchair & umbrella. A towel is anywhere from E 4.00-E 6.00 & a smile or pleasant attitude will cost a whole lot more!
Expect to be encroached upon by other people even if the club isn’t crowded. Don’t bother arguing about it, you will be told that the other sunbeds are ‘reserved’. As the day progresses, you are likely to see these sunbeds remain unused. It is a mysterious thing. Do so many people pay in advance and not turn up or is it a form of torture inflicted upon guests to encourage the idea of exclusivity?
One would think that as every club encourages or more accurately forces their guests to dine in house that the food would be of a very high standard. Well, think again, the food tends towards the bland and predictable across the board. Children’s menus cost around E 14.00 -16.00, plain pizza is around E14.00 and salad comes in around E.17.00. An average coffee will cost around E3.50. Alcohol costs can be astronomical so keep an eye on these. Bill shock is often due to huge sums charged for wine and cocktails.
Anything we would recommend?
On a brighter note, there are four beach club restaurants that I would recommend. Two are aligned to the hotels Plage Beau Rivage & Regence Plage by Radisson Blu. Beach clubs aligned to hotels normally have a set of standards that must be kept and your complaints, if any, are more likely to have impact. Privately owned clubs are personal fiefdoms and complaints are usually ignored or even worse aggressively challenged by the manager.
In my opinion, two exceptions to the privately-owned rule are Plage du Voilier and Miami Plage. I have heard nothing negative about management and the food and service are good. Miami Plage has a large children’s play area and is very welcoming to families.
The Handiplage beach enables people with reduced mobility along with blind or partially sighted people to enjoy a day at the beach. You will find one on Plage du Centenaire & Plage du Carras. This service is available from roughly 01 July to 11 September. To organise a day at the beach contact 04 97 13 27 06 or 04 97 13 28 24 or email the Mairie /Town hall
Red No swimming
Orange : Anything from jellyfish to strong currents
Green flag Lifeguard is on duty & swimming is safe
How do I know what the water quality is?
There is a Blue Flag system in place,which rates water quality along the coast.
This site is in English and is very easy to follow
Click onto the little man in blue on the front page
Then select your dept 06 Alpes-Maritime then hit locate
town Nice then hit locate
site eg Beau Rivage then hit locate
and you will see which areas received an “A”
Bon bain de Soleil!
Check our map for all public & private beach locations