Beach Holidays in France
With over 2,000 miles of coastline, the beaches of France offer a wide variety of holiday experiences for travellers of all ages. Many holidaymakers head straight for the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast, but the gorgeous sandy beaches, stunning landscapes and bustling coastal towns of the English channel shouldn’t be overlooked – particularly if you’re looking for an affordable weekend break or day trip.
DFDS offers ferry services to the port towns of Calais, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Le Havre – all offering distinct opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Many other popular resorts such as La Touquet and Etretat are just a short drive away, while more adventurous travellers can head west to Brittany for glorious destinations such as Penmarch and St Malo.
Best Nord-Pas-De-Calais Beaches
Nord-Pas-De-Calais is France’s northernmost region, and the closest point to the UK coastline. DFDS runs daily ferry services to Nord-Pas-de-Calais’ two major port towns of Calais and Dunkirk, with ferry crossings of 90 minutes and two hours respectively.
Because of their proximity, the beaches of Nord-Pas-de-Calais are ideal for day trips and short weekend breaks. Calais offers a vibrant resort with miles of sandy beaches and plentiful activities – including sailing, mini-golf and volleyball. The town also contains a bustling shopping district and dozens of bars, restaurants and cafes.
Dunkirk’s best beaches lie a few miles to the east, in the Malo-les-Bains district. There you can enjoy gently sloping coastline stretching all the way to the Belgian border. The beaches of Dunkirk are also popular with students of history, as in 1940 they were the site of WWII’s ‘Operation Dynamo’, a critical evacuation of French and British troops from the oncoming German forces. The Operation Dynamo museum opens from April to September, commemorating the event.
Less than an hour’s drive from Calais is the historic resort of Le Touquet, a colourful seaside town with a rich and interesting history. Beginners and experienced equestrians alike can saddle up and ride horses through the sandy dunes, and the town itself is popular for its casinos and frequent sporting events – from golfing and athletics to motorbike racing.
Best Normandy Beaches
The region of Normandy contains a long and varied stretch of coastline, taking in some of Northern France’s most popular holiday destinations. At DFDS we run daily ferry services from Newhaven to Dieppe and from Portsmouth to Le Havre – two of Normandy’s busiest port towns.
The distinctive pebble beach in Dieppe is excellent for swimming and sunbathing, and sits near a mile-long promenade running to the harbour, where you can enjoy delicious fresh fish from a number of lovely waterside restaurants, and watch the fishing boats in the marina. The town is also a popular golf resort, with an 18-hole course catering to beginners and enthusiasts alike.
As one of the busiest ports in the region, Le Havre Beach - a mixture of sand and pebbles – is lined with shops, hotels and restaurants. France’s largest open-air skate park is nearby, as well as numerous cycle lanes, children’s play areas and volleyball courts, while the aquatic centre offers lessons and rental services for sailing, kite-boarding and windsurfing.
Around 20 minutes north of Le Havre is Etretat, a small fishing village that has developed into a popular tourist attraction thanks to its high cliffs, where nature lovers can look out for numerous stunning coastal birds – including Peregrine Falcons, Gulls and Arctic Fulmars. Distinctive sea caves and rock formations run across the secluded pebble beach, making this a perfect spot for a family adventure.
Best Brittany Beaches
A unique region of France with a long and storied history – Brittany also features the longest unbroken coastline in the country. Among the most popular tourist destinations is St Malo, an imposing walled city that opens onto a huge beach area and a causeway that allows you to walk out to the tiny island of Grand-Bé during low tide.
On the west coast of Finistère you can find the family-friendly commune of Penmarch, including Pors Carn and Pointe de la Torche, which during the summer months attract surfers from all over the world to ride the waves.
The quiet peninsula of La Trinitè Sur Mer offers extensive camping facilities between the beaches or Kerbihan and Kervillen, plus miles of wild and unspoiled areas of dune, woodland and heathland, offering spectacular views of the Gulf of Morbihan.