One of the most bizarre things about the beaches in the Italian and French Rivieras is that huge sections of them are roped off and come at a price. I’ve never seen a private beach club in Australia and it seems strange to me that someone can own part of the beach. It’s a smart business move, however, because most of these beaches have rocks where there should be sand, so a beach club full of reclining chairs, permanent umbrellas and footpaths to avoid bruising your feet seems like a natural fit.
The beach in Nice has huge, smooth pebbles which are very painful to walk on, so on our first beach day in Nice we decided to splurge on a morning at Opera Plage Beach Club, the prettiest beach club we could find.
It was 15 Euro for the day and we were seated in the front row with unobstructed views of the beautiful water in front of us. I’m not sure how happy I would have been to pay 15 Euro if my view had been of the backs of leathery Europeans tanning in front of me, so we were very lucky!
We ate at the beach club’s cafe too, it was moderately priced but the food was pretty good – a rare find along the Nice waterfront. I’m not sure why, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a great meal in Nice. The bathrooms, however, were very wet, a little dirty and the doors didn’t even click shut, so I’d advise that you go before you leave home and not to hit the cocktails toooo hard.
This was the only beach club I visited overseas and I used the free part of the beach the next day. It was a fun novelty and you have to admit that the beach clubs decorate the beaches beautifully with their brightly coloured umbrellas lined up over the sand.
If I was planning on spending a full day at the beach in Nice, I’d definitely use a beach club again – I tried getting comfortable just using a towel on the free beach and it’s impossible. The Italian beaches I visited didn’t have the best sand, but at least the pebbles were much smaller so it was just a little uncomfortable, rather than painful to walk on the beach.
Beachlovers who don’t want to fork out 15 euro a day should consider reef shoes – you look ridiculous, until you get on the beach or in the water and can walk like a normal human being, unlike all the barefoot beach goers hobbling over the sand.