Overview of Private Beach Restaurants & Clubs
The private beach restaurant experience in Europe is fabulous! Having grown up on beaches in California and on the east coast of the US, we just don’t have this sort of thing. Maybe it exists in other parts of the world. But in Europe, it is a rather unique European “standard” feature on beaches. Whether France, Italy, Greece or Spain, they all have their private beach clubs including a restaurant.
Anyone is able to go. It is not a private club where you have to be a member. You do need a reservation, otherwise you won’t get in, as they are popular. And depending on what time of year you are looking to go, book in advance (especially in July and August). We have guests that come every year and they book a year in advance as they want the first or second line (you’ll see what I mean) and have developed friends that also come every year so they want to be together. But for most people, you can book several days in advance and that is adequate to get in (although not necessarily for the first line in July and August). About the first line (closest to the water), it is often reserved for families with kids and it makes sense. No matter what line, all are nice.
What is a private beach restaurant? It is a place you go and stay for the day. You book a chaise and umbrella and also a table for lunch. There is a lovely wait staff available to serve drinks or food all day long and you can book a table for lunch or eat at your chaise (most people book a table). You will not believe how quickly the day goes by. I have taken so many friends who had never been to a private beach and I tell them, bring a book and lotion as we’ll stay for the day. They always say, “oh no, I could never be at a beach all day, I don’t like that much sun.” And I say “just wait and see, trust me.” And every time the end of the day approaches and I try and get them ready to go home, they say “are you kidding me, already?!” You will start with a coffee and croissant around 9 or 9:30 (they don’t open before 9) and order a bottle of water, in between you chat, swim, maybe read your book or the paper, and of course, people watch. Then around 11 or 11:30 you order a little cocktail and start to think about lunch, then about 12:30 or 1:00 you go to the table and then around 2:30 you return to your chaise and take a nap, get up and swim (or bob in the sea chatting away), and then maybe have a little cocktail around 4 and then start to pack up around 6. Throughout the day you chat, swim, stare out at the incredible beauty and people watch. Honestly, you can believe how quickly the day goes by and how enjoyable it is.
Each private beach is a bit different in pricing. The per-person price is as follows: chaises cost between 25-45 euro for the day with the umbrella; lunch with wine about 50-70 euro per person; other drinks and coffee another 20-30 euro, so total for a day for one person can be around 150 euro so a bit pricey and you won’t do it every day but when you compare to other activities (i.e., skiing) that you do all day, it is pretty good value. It is so relaxing and enjoyable — a lovely, very French Riviera / European thing to do in the summer.
If you decide to do a private beach day, I recommend planning to spend the whole day as you will be charged for the whole day for the chaise so you might as well take advantage of it. If you only have a couple of hours to spend at the beach, we offer our guests beach chairs and umbrellas in our private storage area next to the beach.
All the private beach restaurants listed below are an easy walk or train / bus ride. There are 7 private beach clubs, one of which is in Villefranche on the main beach, along with two little beach restaurants also at the main beach of Villefranche.
Delibo is Villefranche’s only private beach club and is located on our main beach called Mariniers. It is quite popular with younger people and their food is quite nice. We don’t tend to go here because we go to the Villefranche beach all the time and generally use our beach chairs when we go. But our clients do enjoy it a lot. We do eat there periodically, however.
La Voile Bleu and La Praia are two little beach restaurants at the main beach, just further down the beach from Delibo. They are just a restaurant so you cannot rent a chaise. We love La Voile Bleu and Renaud, the owner, is a dear friend. His food is terrific. La Praia is new as of summer 2020, and we have not tried it yet but see that it is also popular with people. If you only have a couple of hours to spend at the beach, you might want to use our beach chairs and then go to one of these places for lunch.
Beaulieu sur Mer
Anao is one of Beaulieu’s two beach clubs. Anao is on the main beach of Beaulieu and is a lovely place. Beautiful views, lovely décor, nice service, nice food and an easy walk from Villefranche (about 15 minutes from Delibo on Villefranche’s beach).
St Jean Cap Ferrat
There are two beach clubs in St. Jean. One is Paloma, our favorite. The setting is our favorite of all the private beaches but it does lose the sun a bit early (around 4), although in the summer that can be quite nice. You look across the bay of Beaulieu to the mountains that plunge to the sea (giving the French Riviera its name) and stretch all the way down the coast to Bodighera, Italy. The staff, service and food are terrific, the setting magical and the waters crystal clear (rocky bottom so no sand gets stirred up making the water cloudy).
Plage Passable is the second one and popular with several of our guests as they love the long afternoon sun and looking over the bay of Villefranche to the village of Villefranche. This place is quite the place for people watching (with people posing in ways that you really can’t believe, a bit of a scene for sure!).
Eze Bord de Mer
There are two beach clubs on Eze beach. We love the style of Anjuna and the staff are lovely and the food is terrific but it is a bit pricey. Also, there isn’t much of a beach (you can see in the photos). But for lunch or dinner, this is a great spot. We prefer lunch as you feel as though you are sitting on the edge of the sea and the atmosphere and music give such a great vibe. Avoid Sundays if you don’t want a wild party that starts around 1:00 and goes until the wee hours of the morning.
Papaye Beach is the other beach club that has a bit more beach and is also well liked by our clients.
Cap d’Ail – Mala Beach
This is a great place to go and we highly recommend it if you can only do one private beach day. The experience of getting there is great (take the train and then a 10-minute walk on a lovely water’s edge path) and there are two private beach restaurants to choose from. They both have the same fabulous setting.
Eden Plage at Mala is where we have mostly gone. We love the vibe, the people, the music and the food is quite good (new chef is supposedly excellent).
The Reserve at Mala is a bit more bling and appealing to the young and the “full of themselves” set. But the food is quite good and we know many people who like it a lot and the decor is very pretty.