If you’re considering a yacht charter on the French Riviera, you may be aware that the private beach clubs have been under threat from authorities for some time. Back in 2016, an official beach decree limiting the number of beach clubs in France finally came into effect. But it’s not all bad news and you’ll still find some old favourites along with a number of new hangouts.
If you're planning a French Riviera yacht charter this summer and you’re heading to Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez, you'll discover five new swanky beach clubs to choose from - the Hôtel de Paris, Byblos, Hôtel La Réserve, Christophe Artis and Loulou.
These are all eco-friendly, temporary constructions that will be dismantled from November to February to leave the beaches in their natural state.
What is the new French beach law?
The beach law can be traced back to legislation adopted in 1986. This stated that the public must have unrestricted access to the sea which meant there could be no beach clubs. However, local authorities did allow for regulated temporary beach installations to continue receiving permits. The Ministry of Ecology instigated a law aimed at preserving the natural environment, which became a 'Beach Decree' in 2006.
Permits were reduced from 30 to 12 years and beach businesses couldn’t exceed 20% of the surface of natural beaches and 50% of artificial beaches (reduced from 70%). It had the backing of over 90% of the public who were concerned about the French coast becoming overdeveloped.
In 2016, the French government pursued this legislation more aggressively to ensure that 80% of the coastline is open to the public and to create more free beaches. Since the implementation of the decree, the government has faced continued opposition from local towns and beach club operators. Not only are private beach clubs an integral part of French Riviera yacht charters, but they also provide over 8,000 seasonal jobs and generate over one billion Euros of revenue.
The Côte d’Azur is home to around 400 private beaches, with a number of beach clubs still open for business and worth a visit by yacht and tender. Here are six of the best clubs to consider during a French Riviera yacht charter:
1. Club 55, St Tropez
This is the original and most famous of Pampelonne’s exclusive beach clubs. Club 55 is inextricably linked to the golden era of 1950s hedonism when Brigitte Bardot famously starred in 'And God Created Women' on the very same beach. Celebrities flocked here, transforming the former fisherman’s hangout into an iconic beach club. Ever since, an array of visiting yachts have brought beach lovers ashore to shop at the upmarket boutique, socialise and sip champagne to live music and DJ sets.
Image courtesy of Club 55
2. Nikki Beach, St Tropez
Nikki Beach has been a firm St Tropez favourite for the last 17 years. Relax on plush lounge sunbeds by a beachside pool and linger over cocktails with international DJs and an upbeat atmosphere. The restaurant is famous for its healthy dishes, slow-roasted rotisserie chicken and freshly caught seafood. The waters that lap Pampelonne’s shoreline are clean and crystal clear; an inviting sight on a hot summer’s day.
Image copyright ArtmanAgency
3. Eden Plage Mala, Cap d’Ail
Located in a stunning setting of sheer rock faces, Eden Plage Mala is hidden away in its own cove. It requires a bit of effort to reach by land, but a boat shuttle service is available for those arriving by yacht. Relax to a selection of rock, pop, reggae and jazz at the weekend and enjoy a delicious al fresco meal. And despite its remote and intimate location, you can still access WiFi.
Image courtesy of Eden Plage Mala
4. Plage Joseph, Cap d'Antibes
Taking pride of place on the stunning coast of Cap d’Antibes, Plage Joseph is the place to come if you prefer a more low-key setting compared to the party atmosphere of St Tropez. Located by a small walking trail with stunning views of the Alps, you can dine right by the water and spend the day lounging on sunbeds on the jetty.
Image courtesy of Plage Joseph
5. Plage des Pêcheurs, Cap d'Antibes/Juan Les Pins
From here you see the Lérins Islands off Cannes and the beautiful Estérel mountains. The five-star Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel is a short walk from Juan Les Pins and has two restaurants, an infinity pool and plush sun-loungers with parasols. Spa treatments and massages are available in wellness tents on the beach.
6. Anjuna Beach, Eze
Eze is a popular stop on any French Riviera yacht charter. The hilltop village is packed with history and character, and Anjuna Beach is renowned for its party vibe. A boat service is available to and from the pebble beach at the foot of a cliff. The chic and laid-back restaurant is renowned for its seafood specialities and tempura with shrimps. Sundays are the best time to visit when live bands and table entertainment await.