Daily dilemmas: Do you prefer France's best beaches or its magnificent mountains?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Daily dilemmas: Do you prefer France's best beaches or its magnificent mountains?
Photo: AFP

One thing we can all agree on is that France is a beautiful country packed with stunning scenery - but whether the country is best by the sea or in the mountains has divided readers.


Our latest daily dilemmas poll asked readers whether they would prefer to head to the beach or the mountains as the temperature climbs and the cities get uncomfortably hot and sticky.

And while mountains claimed a narrow victory, the readership was largely divided on the issue.

On Twitter mountains bagged 53 percent of the vote.


While on Facebook the result was even tighter, with mountains winning by just 51 percent.


Could it be that France is just so damn beautiful that it's impossible to chose?

Well it's certainly true that the country posses some simply stunning example of both.


Earlier this year TripAdvisor users voted a French beach - Palombaggia on the island of Corsica - their world favourite, while the blue flag scheme means you can check out in advance the cleanest beaches in France.

A few things to know about beaches - although smoking is often seen as a national pastime in France, in recent years more and more beaches have introduced a smoking ban, so check before you light up.

Nudist beaches are also popular in France, but there is a strict etiquette to getting your kit off. Generally it's fine for women (and men) to be topless on a normal beach, but check the beach rules first. However if you are going fully nude its better to be on the nudist section of the beach or in a designated nudist colony like the famous Cap d'Age.

On the other end of the clothing spectrum the burkini - or full cover swimsuit - is now allowed on French beaches after a legal challenge to a ban introduced by some French mayors. It is however not permitted in most municipal swimming pools. And if you're taking a dip in pool be aware that if you have long hair you will be required to wear a swimming cap and for men it's Speedos only - no baggy shorts.

As in all countries, nothing is perfect so here's a list of 10 beaches that you might want to avoid this summer, from the one with the deadly currents to the one where an average lunch costs €18.44.

French mountains, on the other hand, have the major advantage of being perfect destinations all year round, for skiing and winter sports in the cold months and hiking, canoeing and other outdoor activities in the summer.

And many of them also have beaches. As France is pretty big many people live a long way from the sea, so it's very common in landlocked areas for sandy beaches to be created next to lakes, often complete with sun loungers, water sports, bucket-and-spade shops and plenty of places to eat and drink (although these tend to be open only in the summer).

If you're a fan of mountains you can head to the Alps on France's eastern border, which has a thriving ski scene and a lot of delicious local cookery generally involving cheese (fondue, racelette, tartiflette).

There are lots of beautiful towns that are thriving and welcoming in both winter and summer, here at The Local we're particularly fond of Annecy which also benefits from a stunning lake.

Try your hand at climbing next to Lake Annecy. Photo: AFP

To the west are the Pyrenees, which also have a thriving winter sports season and benefit from lots of Spanish and Basque influences in both food, wine and culture. If you're ticking off countries to visit you can also pop over the border into the tiny independent state of Andorra. There are also wolves and bears, but don't panic, they rarely come near people.

Less well known is the Massif Central region of central France.

This huge area encompasses several national parks which are set up for outdoor activities such as hiking, gorge walking, mountaineering and kayaking as well as some of France's least populated départements like Correze, so if you want to go off the beaten track this is definitely the place for you.

READ ALSO 15 reasons why Clement-Ferrand is the best place in France



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also