Calandre (Ventimiglia, 25 mins drive plus 10 mins walk)
This is the only sandy beach in the immediate vicinity. To access it you need to walk on a scenic path where on a crisp day you get views all the way to Cannes. The water is clear emerald green, there’s a bar on site and you can get sun loungers and parasols for a small fee.
Marina San Giuseppe (Ventimiglia, 25 mins drive)
Just under the old town, this area hosts a few pebble beaches, some serviced (you’ll need to pay to get in) and others free. The sea isn’t the best but you have easy access to all sorts of facilities – from bars and restaurants to sun loungers and parasols.
Balzi Rossi (near French border, 30 mins drive)
Also known as the ‘eggs beach’ for its peculiar pebbles, this is a little gem that can’t be missed. You can find a spot on the rocks or opt for a more comfortable lounger and parasol on the private beach – it’s not the cheapest but worth it! If you’re a confident swimmer you can discover the little caves near the beach and dive off the rocks into the turquoise water.
Casette (near French border, 30 mins drive)
This is a lovely cove located right by the last tunnel before the French border and connected to the Balzi Rossi beach through a tiny path along the coast. Depending on the season and the moods of the sea you will find pebbles and often a bit of sand. The water is beautifully clear. Don’t forget to bring food and drinks as there are no bars or shops in the immediate vicinity.
Rattaconigli (between Ventimiglia and Bordighera, 25 mins drive)
Similar to Marina San Giuseppe, it’s a long pebble beach with easy access to bars, restaurants and pizza places.
Sablette (Menton, 35 mins drive)
This is a sandy beach right by the old town and next to the port, with easy access to bars, restaurants and a lovely pedestrian street full of shops.
Villefranche sur mer (between Monaco and Nice, 45 mins drive)
Located in one of the most beautiful bays in the Côte d’Azur, this is a long, sandy beach with easy access to bars and restaurants.
Rocchetta ponds (Rocchetta, 15 mins drive)
A great alternative to the beach, these are natural pools of river water where you’ll get the most refreshing swim surrounded by the lush nature of the Ligurian hills. They’re unspoilt and still to be discovered by most tourists and even people in the local area. Bring food and drinks as the only thing you’ll find is nature.