We visited the best beach in France by train options, all while traveling with two young children. While it may seem challenging to narrow down the best beaches in France, as this country features some of the most varied coastlines, we were able to find several options that fit the needs of small children.
These beaches allow you to easily travel with kids in France by train, they’re safe for children, and best of all, they allow you to be further away from the crowds, providing an ideal beach experience.
Barfleur: An Authentic French Village
Barfleur is a stunning location that you can easily reach via regional trains. Even though it’s about five hours from Paris, it’s best to reach Barfleur via train or bus. Then, you can relax and enjoy spending time with your children. This town has been well-known as one of the 100 prettiest villages in France for many years. As you visit Barfleur, you’ll find incredible views of the English Channel and a town wrapped in history.
This village is incredibly family-friendly, with many activities to pursue.
We found that one day was almost not enough time to explore all Barfleur offers. This village was a great option for an authentic stop. As Barfleur has only a small number of village residents (about 700), the village has been able to stay true to its history.
We found a lovely beach in this charming town by the Gatteville Lighthouse. It was open, sandy, and had few people. While the water was too cold and the tides were too high, it was an excellent spot to visit. During the low tide, we hunted for clams in the water.
Barfleur is also famous for its mussels. While the kids were too young to enjoy mussels, I couldn’t resist trying a few before I continued to travel by train in France with kids.
Cotentin Peninsula: Colourful heaven with flowers & green landscapes
When you visit France, make sure you put the Cotentin Peninsula on your list of must-sees. This area has so much history, from its World War II history to the multiple UNESCO World Heritage Site options. There are so many beaches on the Cotentin Peninsula that it can be challenging to pick one or two. We found the beach of Barneville-Carteret to be an ideal spot.
This spot is one of the best family-friendly beaches on the Cotentin Peninsula. Many families build sandcastles on the beach and enjoy the views. It also has a beach club for kids, but you can also make your own fun at the beach. As my kids are only one and four years old, we had fun walking along the sandy beach.
We spent the night at La Ferranderie. It was only about 1.5 hours from the Cotentin Peninsula. Plus, there are plenty of ways to reach it. We chose to continue using the train and rode from Volognes to Cuverville, where La Ferranderie is found.
Yport of Etretat is a charming small Town with white pebble beach
The Yport of Etretat was another favorite place for us to visit. After visiting, I officially put it on my best beach France family travel with baby list. This charming village sits in Northern France, in the Normandy area. The town looks like it is right out of a painting, with dramatic gray cliffs that sit against the pretty blues of the ocean.
As we were already in the Normandy area, it was not too far to visit Yport of Etretat even though I had to travel with baby in France by train. Though, if you are in Paris, you can also reach Yport of Etretat in only a few hours, so it is an excellent day trip.
Yport is a lovely area that is safe and has a beautiful beach that's perfect for a stroll. Nearby the beach, we found a play park, which my older child loved. There were also many cafes near the beach, so we easily found places to grab a snack during our visit. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for a more authentic trip, as Yport does not typically get many tourists.
Trouville-Deauville is the Nearest beach to Paris by Train
We loved how family-friendly Trouville was, which we discovered as we explored the port area. Trouville is nearby Deauville, a more expensive area ideal for couples without kids.
There is much to do in Trouville with kids of all ages, from several amusement parks and adventure parks to water parks and playgrounds for younger kids.
The Plage de Trouville was a great beach in Trouville, with a boardwalk to explore and views of the pretty villas that run along the beach. We took a small picnic with food from one of the local restaurants to the beach. We even saw a dog or two jogging with their owner during our picnic and found some Kosher food in the supermarket.
Basque Region Beaches
Saint Jean de Luz: Friendly Coastal City for the Whole Family
After seeing many Normandy beaches, we continued to the Basque region. Here, we spent time in Saint Jean de Luz, a stunning coastal city incredibly family-friendly.
It’s the perfect place for a family trip, though you will want to head here for at least a few days as it’s about a nine-hour trip from Paris.
We were greeted by friendly locals when we arrived, which made the trip even better. We found the Grand Plage, a beach in the middle of the city. It was the perfect beach for anyone with young children. You can rent tents, chairs, and parasols for a more relaxing trip. If you have older kids, there are fun water sports that you can try, like stand up paddle boarding.
Western France Beach Options
Pornichet - Sainte Marguerite is a sport for Surfing and a playground for French Families
This commune lies in the Pays de la Loire region in western France. It's a lovely quiet area with very few bars - which is perfect for families.
This quiet area has beautiful beaches that are clean. You’ll even find some nice surfing spots, so you can come back and visit with older kids or a spouse.
We spent our day at the Sainte Marguerite Beach in Pornichet, a sandy beach that is quite long. There’s a lovely picnic area and even a children’s playground at one end of this beach. Plus, you can check out water sports when you visit. Sailing and boating are top choices while you’re at Sainte Marguerite.
If you have extra time, I recommend heading into the town area as there are many cute shops to explore and excellent cafes and restaurants. However, there were not as many places to eat healthily.
Southern France Beach Choices
Calanques of Cassis: Top Family-Friendly Area
You will find the impressive Calanques of Cassis in Provence, France, about two hours from the French Riviera. These calanques, also known as inlets, are found in Calanques National Park. While it may seem challenging to do this rocky hike with kids, it’s actually a great activity.
I navigated a portion of the trail with my youngest in a carrier and my oldest walking alongside us the entire time. As a family, we enjoyed the views and especially enjoyed cooling off at the beach.
You will need to find Calanque de Port Pin for this incredible beach.
It’s a popular spot with families, kayakers, and dog owners, especially on hot days. Even though it was busy, there was plenty of room to spread out, so it did not feel too cramped. You can take your kids swimming or sit on the sandy shore for a picnic.
La Ciotat: Quiet Town with Beautiful Architecture
Set on the Mediterranean Coast, La Ciotat is a lovely place to visit. We made it to this town after exploring the Calanques of Cassis. It was only about a two-hour train ride, so we headed out the next day to have plenty of time in La Ciotat.
This town is famous for being the setting of one of the first motion films, the "L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat," translating to "the Arrival of the Train at La Ciotat Train Station.” It’s a smaller, quiet town with friendly locals.
There is one main beach in town that we found easily. Even with only one beach in the area, it was quiet and felt very safe. It was a great place to swim and sunbathe, with crystal clear waters and very few other people. You can also go stand up paddle boarding here if you wish.
If you plan to travel by train in France with kids, I recommend avoiding Marseille. We found the port city to be very busy and crowded. Plus, when we stopped by the beach, we encountered some unfriendly people.
During your France excursions with kids, make traveling around Paris easier by hiring a private driver. It’s a safe way to get from place to place, and you will receive pick up directly from the airport. If you ask your driver, they may even take you to some of the top attractions in Paris along the route to your hotel, like the Luxembourg Gardens on your family vacation.