The Playbook For The Modern Man

French Riviera Photos Reveal Radical Change On France’s Beaches

Even as lockdown restrictions ease, the French beachgoing experience is not what it once was.

When you think: ‘French beaches’, you probably envision splayed nonchalance, pastel beach towels and a gently lapping tide. Not to mention People Going Topless.

But you can put your puerile fantasies aside for a second; there’s been a big change. Since The Pandemic put a gravel-flying halt to tourism (and to domestic liberties), the residents of The French Riviera (and other beaches in France) have had to change their habits.

The upshot? You’re now unlikely to see the crowds that used to make for such iconic drone photography, for one. Indeed, a comparison of the hashtag #lescalanquesdecassis (one of Marseille’s coolest beaches), which has been used on Instagram 2,880 times, reveals quite a difference between February last year…

… September last year…


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… and May 2020.


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It’s also less likely (though it is hard to tell from Instagram, which searches and destroys these kinds of images with close-minded prejudice) that beachgoers are going topless now too. Why do we say that? Well, because according to the latest reports, going to the beach in Europe, though it is now in many places allowed again, is not quite as liberal as it once was (and it’s probably not quite the same for nudists or semi-nudists if there are rangers patrolling).


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On top of that, there are now restrictions in place for your time on the sand: as Traveller reports, over the weekend, as Europeans returned to the beaches for the first holiday fin de semaine since lockdown restrictions eased, a number of new rules were in effect.

“Overjoyed French families flocked to the Grande Motte beach on the Mediterranean shore Sunday, swimming and sunbathing in areas specially marked to keep a distance from others. Cordons of ropes and wooden stakes were neatly spaced out across the sand, giving each visitor or group an eight-square-meter (85-square- foot) space of their own.”

“Online reservations are required though free of charge, and there is already a two-day waiting list,” Traveller added. “Those lucky enough to get a spot for a four-day weekend relished the opportunity, frolicking beneath a summer-like sun. Elsewhere in France, beaches have also reopened, but only for individual sports or walks, and visitors weren’t allowed to sit or lie down.”

“Yet even as social distancing rules spread families and friends out Sunday across beaches and parks, the virus remained a constant threat. Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.”


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Elsewhere in France, further Instagram posts like #sttropez suggest locals are spending more time at home (a la Brigitte Bardot in 1960)…


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Brigitte Bardot in 1960, with friends in St Topez dinning al fresco 👌 #swimshorts #sttropez #swimwear

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… and going for coastal walks…


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… rather than amassing down on the sand.

Of course, once The Pandemic is over, things will (presumably) return to normal and France’s ‘beach rules’ will lift.

On that note: this is something Europe is striving for: across the continent, various countries of various tourism dependencies, are experimenting with different strategies for containing the pandemic without destroying their economies (or putting travellers at risk).

As Traveller reports, “Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June, but it isn’t clear when intercontinental travel will resume.”

Until then, a virtual holiday is probably your best bet.


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