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.

plage de bestouanThis 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, 399 beaches in France earned the Pavillon Bleu label in 2018. The ones in Provence are as follows.

Beaches in the département of the BOUCHES DU RHONE: Cassis (Bestouan, pictured, and Grande Mer), Fos sur Mer (Cavaou and Grande Plage), Marignane (Jaï nord), Port de Bouc (Bottai), Sausset les Pins (Corniche).

Beaches in the département of the VAR: Hyères (Almanarre Nord, Ceinturon Est, 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 (Aiguebelle, Anglade, Cavalière, la Fossette, Lavandou ville, Pramousquier and Saint Clair).

les sablettesLe Pradet (Les Bonnettes, La Garonne, Le Monaco, Les Oursinières and Le Pin de Galle), Rayol Canadel sur Mer (Canadel, Pramousquier Est and Rayol).

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, La Croisette, La Nartelle and Centre ville).

Six Fours les Plages (Bonnegrace Anse B / La Manuella, Bonnegrace Anse D opposite the Tourist Office, La Coudoulière, Les Roches Brunes and Plage du Cros), Toulon (Anse Mistral, Les Pins Centre, Lido and Source Ouest). logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

plage prado smallYou might not at first think of Marseille for a beach holiday. But the city offers a vast array of seaside spaces catering to every possible taste all along its west-facing southern coastline.

Plage de Corton beach, CassisCassis is a popular destination for visitors who are hoping to avoid the crowds in Marseille and the more famous beaches further east, or are looking to mix some sun-seeking with the town's calanques and other attractions.

Sainte Croix beachIf you would like to venture a little further than the beaches south of Marseille, try heading instead north-west to the Blue Coast where the beaches are numerous. Walk, drive or take the train to find your own idyllic spot.

Plage du petit Mugel La CiotatLa Ciotat is a very attractive bet for a beach holiday, with a wide choice of locations and types of beaches within easy reach of the town centre.

plage Mistral ToulonToulon boasts some of the finest beaches in Provence, secret coves as well as lively, family-friendly resort areas - and, best of all, most are within easy reach of the city centre.

Beach at Sanary sur MerBeaches are a big attraction at Sanary sur Mer and, while they don't enjoy the loveliest locations on this coast, they're well maintained and excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving.

casino beach bandolThe seaside resort of Bandol focusses naturally on its beaches and these range from glorious fine sand bays to wild and rugged little inlets on the fringes of town.

plage de beauducFrom the dunes of Piémanson and Beauduc, pictured, to the family-friendly golden sands of Saintes Maries de la Mer, some of Provence's most spectacular beaches are in the Camargue.

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