Visitors to the Côte d’Azur are often surprised to discover that many of the beaches here are pebble beaches. Distant or arial shots of the gorgeous bays around the Nice area don’t show such detail, though it is thanks to these pale grey stones that the water is such a piercing, vibrant blue (hence the “Azure” Coast).  And it is here that every year a most unlikely international competition takes place.

It is because of these lovely flat stones that one of the most unusual events is held on the Riviera every year: Le Championnat du Monde de Châteaux de Galets – the Pebble Castle World Championships! Yes, I kid you not, every year during August, Villeneuve-Loubet plays host to this most unlikely of World Championships. And as World Championships go, it is possibly the most low-key, even underwhelming, international competition I have ever come across. But it’s quirky, and I love quirky.

The competition is open to anyone. There are three categories: under 12s, adults and families. Teams are made up of 3 or more people. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of competitors are French, from all over the country, though there are usually a fair few Italians and a spattering of other nationalities…hence the “international” label. Teams build throughout the day and to top off the festivities there are fireworks over the bay in the evening.  This year’s winners were locals, from Mandelieu, with second prize going to an Italian family (photo below).

pebble castle2

             chateau de galets


             pebble castle3

                   pebble castle1


Related Reading:

How to enjoy pebble beaches on the Côte d’Azur

Top 12 favourite beaches on the Côte d’Azur

Visiting the National Museum of Sports

Photo credits: first photo from Pixabay

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