The beaches of Nice stretch about 10km from the airport in the West right round to Mont Boron to the East, with views to the Esterel hills one way and Villefranche the other. Above most of this coastline is the famous Promenade des Anglais, an attractive long corniche along which locals and visitors like to stroll, jog, rollerblade and sometimes show off. Most of Nice’s public beaches don’t offer the smartest or most expensive beach life (for that, try places like St Tropez) but it is a charming and relaxing scene and it is of its place: this is a
town where the locals love their almost unique and very beautiful setting. Even if you are staying at a villa that is not in the town it is probably worth a visit to take in some very French beach life. The beaches are not sandy but pebbly (the pebbles known as galets, one of the trademarks of Nice, nice enough but bring sandals!).
Along the coast are a number of private and public beaches. The public beaches are generally clean and safe and have adequate facilities (toilets, showers etc) but you bring your own towels, mats and so on; private beaches are not an obvious choice, especially if coming from the UK where private beaches don’t really exist, but you get every comfort from sunbeds and umbrellas to towels and mats starting at about €15, which is reasonable compared with what you spend if you have to buy those things separately.
Along the beaches are a number of restaurants and while you do pay extra for eating on the beach it is not much different from what you pay on the Promenade des Anglais and the food is often better. The style here is casual and relaxed; bathing costumes are OK at lunchtime (perhaps less so in the evening).
There are about 40 beaches to choose from, but the following may be particular interest: Opera Plage is a private beach where chair, umbrella and changing room cost about €15. The restaurant is good with main dishes from about the same. The Ruhl Plage has a supervised children’s pool and child-friendly restaurant. The Coco Beach to the east has a restaurant (expensive, good) with the best views along the coast, and Centenaire and Carras have full disabled access.
Nice may be crowded and towny and less exclusive than Cannes or St Tropez, but if quiet living in your villa gets too quiet then put Nice on the list of things to explore.