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Water Temperature

pelagia noctiluca

Jellyfish net in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Jellyfish net in Beaulieu-sur-Mer

There are no sharks along the Cote d'Azur but there are jellyfish (meduses). By far the most common variety is the pelagia noctiluca which arrive unpredictably, often in swarms. Why? It's a mystery but seems to be a combination of water temperature, currents and winds.

If jellyfish are more frequent in recent years, blame over-fishing. Jellyfish and fish both feast on plankton. Now that there are fewer fish competing for the plankton, jellyfish are free to chow down.

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You may be able to see them singly or in a swarm just beyond the water line but not always. They drift close to the surface and their violet color makes them easy to spot if you wear a mask while swimming. Although not fatal except for rare allergic reactions, a jellyfish sting can be quite painful and, in serious cases, the scars can last for months.

Before heading to the beach, track the location of jellyfish swarms here.

Jellyfish map, french riviera

The map is updated daily according to the latest observations. Don't hesitate to add one of your own!

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Protection from Jellyfish Stings

Avoiding the water completely is foolproof. If no one is in the water on a hot day, jellyfish are usually the reason. Scrutinize the water. Jellyfish often float close to the surface and may be visible. Ask others on the beach or a lifeguard if one is handy.

Local pharmacies sell a product called Medusyl which prevents the tentacles from entering the skin. I have personally observed jellyfish swarming around my arm and yet I was not stung. It also works as a sunscreen.

Wearing a wet suit or any other covering is also effective. Even nylon stockings cut to fit the arms or legs will prevent a jellyfish sting.

What to Do if Stung by a Jellyfish

The goal of jellyfish treatment is to neutralize the nematocysts which are tiny capsules containing a barb with the poisonous venum.

Do NOT try to wash off the sting in fresh water because the nematocysts will only release more toxin. Contrary to myth, urinating on the sting is useless. Scientists agree that the only effective household remedy is vinegar. Douse the affected area with vinegar and then immerse it in water as hot as you can stand. If you happen to have tweezers you can try removing the stingers with them.

Carrying a small bottle of vinegar to the beach is a good idea but if all else fails don't hesitate to approach a lifeguard for an antidote. Even on private beaches a lifeguard will give you an antidote whether or not you're a client.

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How to Avoid Jellyfish

Yes, you can swim and completely avoid jellyfish if you swim where anti-jellyfish nets (filets anti-meduses) protect the swimming area. In Nice such nets are impractical but here are the beaches with anti-jellyfish nets in place at least in July and August:

Larvotto Beach

Antibes/Juan les Pins

Plage de la Garoupe

Gazagnaire, Macé and Plages du Midi

Baie des Fourmis

Cap d'Ail
Plage Mala
Plage Marquet


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Nice Uncovered: Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City