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To Europe! Face Off: Great European Beaches for People Watching

Last week’s winner is Paradise Beach in Mykonos, Greece. Be sure to check back later today for this week’s To Europe! Face-Off.

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For the next five weeks, in honor of Fodor’s To Europe, we’ll post a Face-Off topic and a matchup between two European destinations and ask you to vote for your favorite. Have more to say than just a simple vote? Feel free to write a comment to explain your opinion, share a memory of one of the destinations, or simply tell us we’re off our rocker because we didn’t include your favorite spot in the match-up.

Our first European Face-Off topic is “Great European Beaches for People-Watching.” Would you rather gawk at passersby in St. Tropez (France) or Paradise Beach (Mykonos, Greece)? The poll and comments will close at 12:00 PM EST Wednesday 5/26, and we’ll crown the weekly European Face-Off winner later that afternoon.

St. Tropez Vs. Mykonos
St. Tropez
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Mykonos’s Paradise Beach
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St. Tropez:

Despite its worldwide fame as the earth’s most gorgeous beach, supposedly “discovered” by Brigitte Bardot, natural beauty is not the main reason to visit St. Tropez. This is the ultimate summer hot spot for the European upper crust. Whether it’s new money or old, you better have a lot of it.

The mantra here is “You can never be too rich, too thin, or too tan.” Most beaches are privately operated and have a hefty admission fee, and the people-watching is well worth the price of admission. Along the quais you’ll see plenty of Bardot wannabes—not all of them female—who strut along the port side in skin-tight leopard prints, toting leopard-collared terriers and mixing with BCBG bon-chic girls and the well-bred yuppie crowd in nautical togs and Gap shirts. This playground for millionaires and models and hot spot for the gay elite also has its fair share of exposed areolae.

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Warning: You might want to avoid poolside at Nikki Beach, where the 5 PM mayhem of champagne showers spares no one.

Mykonos’s Paradise Beach:

From backpackers to the super-rich, from day-trippers to yachties, from gays to celebrities (who head here by helicopter), Paranga, Paradise, and Super Paradise, Mykonos’s most famous public beaches, attract a crowd of club-hopping, disco-addicted, gilded youths who boogie here until dawn.

It might be harder to see at night, but that’s when you’ll really want to get your people-watching on. The sexy, young, glittery rich attend relentless dance parties on this small, barren, starkly beautiful island. Cava Paradiso, Paradise Beach’s most famous megaclub, cranks up at 4 AM. The beach clubs close after dawn, and you don’t have to change out of your bikini or Speedo until you stagger back to your hotel to sleep.

Check your inhibitions at the shoreline. The beaches that were once mostly nude are now mostly dressed (if you consider a one-inch bit of stretched fabric dressed) but still have their nudist sections. They also claim the most famous summer gay-life east of Minorca. Keep those tinted sunglasses on, even at night, and prepare for constant jaw-dropping, as this is the place to see and be seen.

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