We live in California and we are used to sand on our beaches. Needless to say, the beach at Nice along the famous Promenade des Anglais was a shock the first time we saw it. There is no sand; it is covered with pebbles and stones. The location is great and the weather usually cooperates but if you choose the beach here, take sturdy beach shoes (not flip-flops) and either a mat or chair to sunbath. You can rent the chair at many of the beaches and the mats are for sale everyplace.
If you want a nice sandy beach, do what we do. Drive down the road or take the train (better) to Antibes or Juan les Pins for lovely soft sandy beaches. We drive and have always found parking even in July. However, we go early in the morning and leave when everyone else starts to show up so you may want to check parking before you go.
Though the Baie des Anges looks picture postcard perfect from the viewpoint of the Chateau, close up, don't expect a sandy beach!. Nice beaches are pebbles - "galets" - and stones. Hard underfoot, you can only hobble down to the shoreline, or do as the natives do - wear plastic "jellies" on your feet. The beach is actually sandy underneath, as the massive tides in early December revealed, but the municipality maintain the stony surface to prevent "erosion" - though some other resorts bring sand in by lorry for the season.
Pebbles do have their upside - you don't get sand in everywhere and everything!. Stoically, the sunworshipers still spread out wherever they can.
For a more beachlife experience you can take a bus a few kilometres around the coast to Villefranche, where the public beach is a natural gritty sand which shelves very gently into the sea, perfect for swimming. Antibes probably has the best sandy beaches near Nice , though its 4 euro train ride and a ten minute plus walk through the town from the railway station.
OK, if you are from the USA , and a Southern Californian to boot, then you are used to sand beaches. It was a shock to me that the beaches in Nice were almost all stones with little sand. If you know ahead of time to bring your beach snorkel shoes,then there is no problem! The beaches are beautiful, just stoney. Well, most of the time the sea is smooth.
The stones on the beach at the Promenade de Anglais are rather large and coarse. Beware for sharp rocks and especially glass in the sand as the beach is typically filled with drinkers at night. The first time I took a step in the water I cut my foot on something really sharp, either a shell of some sort, or glass. But all I can say is that it made my trip painful. It got infected and I couldnt walk around properly for the rest of the week! Not good when we traveled to places like Monoco and Antibe which involved A LOT of walking -__-
The main beaches in Nice have more stones and pebbles than sand, so walking is really not a good alternative. Forget about trying to catch a confortable sleep on the beach if you are not in the possesion of a sunbed.
You should have swimming shoes even when you are entering the sea, as the rocks are even more persistent there.
However the water is beautiful.
The beaches of Nice are stony! Best to buy some plastic beach shoes if you are going down to the sea to paddle - as these 2 in the photo soon found out!
Also perhaps a padded beach mat if you are going to be on a public beach for any length of time.
The beaches in Nice are not of sand, but of solid stone. That's not all bad. First, the stones are flat and not jagged so it's easy to set out a beach towel. Second, it would take one heck of a wind to kick up the stones the way mild winds stir up the sand at regular beaches.
Can you imagine lying on the pebbles??? Ouch!
No wonder most locals bring along their beach mattress pad with them.
Also watch out where you step, especially walking barefoot.