Five days, five beaches – south of France camping

Paloma Plage

Follow Theo Bilsbarrow’s guide to the perfect mix of camping,  beach and culture in the south of France.

Swimming in warm seas

I love being in the water – fresh, salty…or even murky (if you count a certain West Sussex lido before its revival).


But I can’t lie on a beach all day. The mantra that “there’s no such thing as a safe tan” has buzzed around in my head for almost as long as “only floss the teeth you want to keep”.

So, I’ve invented the perfect beach holiday with stunning countryside, history, art, shops, restaurants…and beaches – all in just five relaxing and affordable days. Every day, you can swim in a different stretch of water with a different view, and all within 15km of each other.

Paloma Plage

We sailed from Portsmouth to Le Havre with Brittany Ferries and then drove southwards, taking five days for the trip. We camped at Camping Caravanning Saint-Paul, which is sadly closed now. The nearest alternative (and good too) is Camping Domaine de la Bergerie. There’s also a motorhome parking area opposite the Fondation Maeght.

And these were our beaches:

Beach one  – the day began with modern art, shopping and eating in Nice, but by 2pm, we were snorkelling and choosing pebbles at Paloma Plage on Cap Ferrat. Sparkling blue water, sparkling white yachts in an iconic Riviera setting.

Le loup riverBeach two – a 20-minute drive to Pont du Loup and an easy walk, further and further up the gorge to ever-more idyllic pools. It seemed we were the only people on the whole river.

La Baterie

Beach three – the beaches in Antibes were serious – teeming, competitive and stressful. So we drove on by, and found a corner of fee-free cove round the corner. La Baterie, next to the Plage restaurant, looked across to the hotels and yachts of Juan les Pins, but was beautifully glamour-free and great for snorkelling.

Beach four – A moon-coming-up trip to the beach at Cagnes sur Mer had given us a glimpse of Villeneuve-Loubet and its beach, so endless that no amount of holiday-makers could make it feel crowded. So, we drove 20 minutes to Baie des Anges, picked up a picnic at the Géant Casino, and picked our spot.


Beach five – Further down the coast from Villeneuve-Loubet, en route to Antibes, the road runs a pebble’s throw from the sea. There are showers on the beach, gentle waves and the (unexpected) handiness of having your car right next to you. It’s beautiful too – a huge expanse of beach and sea.

On every beach day, we did something else too – a trip to the Fondation Maeght, the ‘perched towns’ of Bar sur Loup and St Paul de Vence or listened to bands playing in the Nuits de Sud world music festival.

I always want to be home at the end of a holiday. This time, I wanted to stay. As we drove back along the coast where we’d swum and snorkelled, I just wanted to dive straight back in.

Got a favourite camping spot on the Med? We’d love to hear about it.


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One Comment

  1. Reading your Blog I realised that you haven’t heard of /used an ACSI accreditted campsite with their discount card or even Camping Cheques.
    As a seasoned traveller in France and Spain we have found both of these little addition so useful as both offer the same campsites but at a maximum cost of €16 a night and we have even found some sites (around the Viaduc du Millau ) at a very cost effective €10 a night
    I can only recommend these to you to explore further I am not employed by them (Wish I was one of their site inspectors LOL) they make for very enjoyable European Touring.

    Camping Cheques cover a unit (car + tent or caravan or Motorhome)
    Electric and awning
    2 adults + Family Pet
    all for €15 a night and are pre paid to Camping cheques
    ACSI work slightly differently as each campsite is priced up at
    10€ 12€ 14€ 16€ a night and is paid direct to the site but you must tell them when you reserve OR arrive but cover the same as Camping checks for facilities

    See you in France or Spain come November
    THE Madcaravanner

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