Many people head south for the sun, and this section will steer you straight towards the best beaches in Provence to catch some rays.
Our guide starts with the strip of the Mediterranean between Toulon and the Camargue, including the many and varied beaches of Marseille.
It will gradually expand eastwards along the Var towards the legendary playgrounds of Saint Tropez.
Each year France inspects its beaches and awards the best ones the Pavillon Bleu or Blue Flag. This is an official eco-label signifying that they meet strict standards in terms of facilities, safety and environmental quality.
This doesn't mean that these are the only great beaches in Provence, of course.
As with the long list of qualities required for a village to be named one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, the criteria are exacting and expensive to meet - and many towns prefer not to bother trying! And the wildest, most secluded beaches will never have the required facilities.
But, for the record, France 400 beaches in France earned the Pavillon Bleu label in 2016. The ones in Provence are as follows.
In the département of the BOUCHES DU RHONE: Cassis (Bestouan, pictured, and Grande Mer), Fos sur Mer (Cavaou and Grande Plage), Marignane (Jaï nord).
Martigues and the Blue Coast (Plage des Laurons, Plage de Carro, Plage du Verdon and Plages de Sainte Croix), Port de Bouc (Bottai and Petite Plage), Sausset les Pins (Corniche).
In the département of the VAR: Hyères (Almanarre Nord, La Bergerie and Port Pothuau), La Croix Valmer (Gigaro and La Douane), La Londe Les Maures (L'Argentière, Miramar and Tamaris), La Seyne sur Mer (Sablettes Centre and Sablette Est, pictured below), Le Lavandou (Batailler, Lavandou ville, Saint Clair and Cavalière).
Le Pradet (Les Bonnettes, La Garonne, Le Monaco, Les Oursinières and Le Pin de Galle), Rayol Canadel sur Mer Plage (Rayol Ouest, Plage Canadel Est, Plage Canadel Ouest, Plage Rayol Est, and Pramousquier Est), Saint Cyr sur Mer (Les Lecques Saint Come Ouest), Saint Mandrier sur Mer (La Coudoulière, La Vieille, Saint-Asile, Touring Club, and Le Canon).
Sainte Maxime (Garonnette, Plage des Eléphants, La Croisette, La Nartelle, and Plage du centre ville), Six Fours les Plages (Bonnegrace Le Manuella, Bonnegrace Poste de secours, Plage du Cros and La Coudoulière, Le Rayolet and Les Charmettes), Toulon (Anse Mistral, Les Pins Centre, Lido and Source Ouest).
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