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Hidden Gems – 7 Lesser Known Yet Beautiful French Beach Towns

Life’s a beach,’ they say, and in France, this saying holds true for the countless breathtaking coastal towns that dot its shores. While the likes of Nice and Saint-Tropez often steal the spotlight, there is a myriad of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by those seeking a more tranquil and off-the-beaten-path beach experience.

In this article, we will explore seven lesser-known yet beautiful French beach towns that offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural charm, and a sense of freedom that comes with exploring the road less traveled.

Key Takeaways

– Lesser known yet beautiful French beach towns offer unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
– These hidden gems feature pristine sandy beaches, scenic coastal landscapes, and breathtaking natural beauty.
– Recreational activities such as water sports, hiking, cycling, and outdoor adventures are available in these hidden gems.
– The hidden gems also boast rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, museums, art galleries, traditional festivals, and immersion in local traditions and customs.

Île de Ré

Île de Ré, a lesser known French beach town, is characterized by its picturesque landscapes and charming villages. Exploring the charming villages of Île de Ré is a delightful experience for those seeking a peaceful and idyllic getaway. The town is dotted with traditional whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant colored shutters, giving it a distinct and charming appeal. Strolling along the narrow cobblestone streets, visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture and admire the well-preserved architecture.

One of the highlights of Île de Ré is its stunning beaches. With over 100 kilometers of coastline, the town boasts an array of sandy stretches that cater to different preferences. From bustling beaches with water sports facilities to secluded coves hidden among sand dunes, there is a beach for everyone. The crystal-clear turquoise waters are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the shore.

In addition to its natural beauty, Île de Ré is also known for its delicious seafood. The town’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean ensures a fresh and abundant supply of seafood, which is expertly prepared by local chefs. From platters of oysters and mussels to succulent fish dishes, visitors can indulge in a gastronomic delight.

Overall, Île de Ré offers a serene and captivating escape for those seeking a hidden gem along the French coastline. Its charming villages, stunning beaches, and mouthwatering seafood make it a must-visit destination for travelers in search of both tranquility and culinary delights.


Situated on the Mediterranean coast, Collioure stands out as a picturesque town with its charming harbor, colorful buildings, and stunning coastal landscapes. This hidden gem in southern France is known for its historical charm and vibrant art scene. The town’s rich history can be seen in its architecture, with its medieval castle and ancient church. Collioure has long been an inspiration for artists, attracting the likes of Matisse and Derain, who were captivated by the town’s unique light and vibrant colors. Today, the artistic legacy continues with numerous galleries and art studios showcasing the works of local artists.

For seafood lovers, Collioure is a culinary delight. The town is renowned for its fresh and delicious seafood, with many restaurants offering a wide variety of dishes. From traditional bouillabaisse to grilled fish, there is something to satisfy every palate. The best spots for seafood lovers are the waterfront restaurants, where diners can enjoy their meal while taking in the beautiful views of the harbor.

Overall, Collioure is a hidden gem that offers historical charm, a vibrant art scene, and delectable seafood. Whether you are an art enthusiast or a food lover, this picturesque town has something to offer everyone.


Cassis, a coastal town in southern France, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, including its picturesque harbor and rugged cliffs. One of the highlights of visiting Cassis is exploring the Calanques, a series of narrow, steep-walled inlets that dot the coastline. These Calanques offer a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the region’s natural splendor, with crystal-clear turquoise waters and dramatic limestone cliffs providing a breathtaking backdrop. Visitors can take boat tours or hike along the coastal paths to discover these hidden gems.

In addition to its natural wonders, Cassis is also known for its local wines. The town is surrounded by vineyards, and the Cassis wine appellation is one of the oldest in France. Visitors can indulge in wine tasting sessions and learn about the traditional winemaking methods that have been passed down through generations. The white wines of Cassis are particularly revered, with their vibrant acidity and flavors of citrus and stone fruits.

Overall, Cassis offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences. Whether it’s exploring the Calanques or indulging in the local wines, visitors to this hidden gem will find themselves captivated by the charm and allure of this coastal town.

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a popular coastal destination in northern France, offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. This hidden gem is an ideal spot for families seeking a beach vacation with plenty of entertainment options.

One of the best activities for families in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is exploring the beautiful sandy beaches. With its long stretch of golden sand, families can enjoy building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply sunbathing. The town also offers various water sports activities, such as sailing, paddleboarding, and kite surfing, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

In addition to its natural beauty, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage boasts a vibrant culinary scene. The town is home to several top restaurants and cafes, where visitors can indulge in delicious French cuisine. From traditional seafood dishes to gourmet French pastries, there are plenty of options to satisfy any palate. Some popular restaurants in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage include Les Cimaises, which offers a refined dining experience, and Le Chatillon, known for its tasty seafood dishes.

In conclusion, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is a hidden gem that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for families. From its stunning beaches to its delectable dining options, this coastal town is sure to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

Cap Ferret

Cap Ferret is a popular coastal destination in France, offering a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Nestled on a narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Arcachon Bay, this hidden gem is known for its stunning natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere.

One of the main highlights of Cap Ferret is its oyster farming industry. The town is famous for its fresh and delicious oysters, which are cultivated in the surrounding waters. Visitors can take part in guided tours and learn about the fascinating process of oyster farming, from the initial seeding of the oysters to the harvesting and shucking.

Another notable attraction in Cap Ferret is the local lighthouse, which holds great historical significance. Built in 1840, the lighthouse stands at an impressive height of 53 meters and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. It served as a navigational aid for ships entering the Arcachon Bay and played a crucial role in ensuring their safe passage.

In addition to oyster farming and the lighthouse, Cap Ferret also boasts beautiful sandy beaches, charming villages, and a variety of water sports and outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the local cuisine, or indulge in outdoor adventures, Cap Ferret has something to offer for everyone.


Biarritz, a coastal town in southwestern France, offers a range of cultural and recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. One of the highlights of Biarritz is its rich surfing culture. With its ideal location along the Bay of Biscay, the town has become a popular destination for surfers from around the world. Biarritz’s beaches offer excellent conditions for surfing, with powerful waves and consistent swells. Surf schools and rental shops are available for those looking to learn or improve their skills. The town also hosts various surfing competitions throughout the year, attracting both professional surfers and spectators.

In addition to its surfing scene, Biarritz is also known for its charming old town. Steeped in history, the old town is a delight to explore with its narrow, winding streets and traditional Basque architecture. Visitors can wander through the bustling market, filled with fresh local produce, seafood, and artisanal goods. The old town is also home to several historic buildings, such as the Sainte-Eugénie Church and the Hôtel du Palais, a former imperial residence turned luxury hotel.

Overall, Biarritz offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural exploration. Whether you are a surfer looking to catch some waves or a history enthusiast wanting to immerse yourself in the town’s rich past, Biarritz has something to offer for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best activities to do on Île de Ré besides going to the beach?

Apart from enjoying the beach on Île de Ré, visitors can explore the island’s picturesque hiking trails, offering stunning views of the landscape. Additionally, they can indulge in the island’s local cuisine experiences, savoring delicious seafood dishes and traditional French delicacies.

Is Collioure a family-friendly destination with activities for children?

Collioure offers a range of family-friendly activities, including the Château Royal and the Musée d’Art Moderne. Additionally, Cap Ferret has attractions such as the Lighthouse and the Dune du Pilat, providing a variety of options for visitors aside from its beaches.

Are there any specific water sports or outdoor activities available in Cassis?

Water sports in Cassis offer a thrilling experience for adventure seekers. From kayaking and paddleboarding to snorkeling and diving, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the crystal-clear waters. Additionally, outdoor activities in Cassis include hiking, rock climbing, and cycling, providing an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.

Is Le Touquet-Paris-Plage easily accessible by public transportation?

Le Touquet Paris Plage is easily accessible by public transportation, making it convenient for visitors. The town is well-connected with various transportation options, ensuring easy travel to and from this beautiful French beach town.

What are the must-visit attractions in Cap Ferret, aside from its stunning beaches?

Cap Ferret, known for its stunning beaches, offers more than just sun and sand. One must-visit attraction is the Cap Ferret Lighthouse, offering panoramic views of the coast. Another hidden gem is the Village de l’Herbe, a picturesque fishing village that exudes charm.


Île de Ré, with its picturesque villages and sandy beaches, is a hidden gem in France. Collioure, known for its vibrant colors and artistic heritage, offers a unique coastal experience. Cassis, with its stunning cliffs and turquoise waters, is a paradise for nature lovers. Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a charming seaside resort, is perfect for a relaxing holiday. Cap Ferret, with its untouched beauty and oyster farms, is a must-visit for seafood enthusiasts. Biarritz, famous for its surf culture and elegant architecture, is a coastal town that combines relaxation with excitement.

These lesser-known French beach towns are truly beautiful and worth exploring.


In conclusion, these lesser-known French beach towns offer a glimpse into the hidden treasures of the country’s coastline. From the charming villages of Île de Ré to the artistic heritage of Collioure, each town has its own unique beauty waiting to be discovered. Whether you are seeking relaxation, nature, or adventure, these beach towns have something for everyone. So, step off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the beauty of these hidden gems.

Let the enchantment of these coastal havens captivate your senses and create memories that will last a lifetime.