Sunbathers banned on French Riviera beach for royal Saudi stay despite protests

The likely visit of Saudi Arabia's king to his family's French Riviera mansion has stirred the ire of beachgoers who will be banned from a stretch of sand.

King Salman is expected to vacation soon at the mansion that sits above an isolated — but public — beach near Juan-les-Pins.

Despite protests, the region's state official, Philippe Castanet, said the beach would be temporarily closed if the king visits.

"If he (the king) comes ... which is almost certain, the beach will be closed" for security reasons, regional security chief Francois-Xavier Lauch added. "We do the same kind of thing for all heads of state."

Lauch said by telephone Monday that boats would also be banned from plying the Mediterranean near the mansion, which has belonged to the Saudi royal family for decades but hasn't recently been visited by the king himself.

Lauch said the restrictions only apply for a visit by the king, not other members of the royal family.

Last week, angry beachgoers won a temporary halt to unauthorized work ahead of the royal visit, notably a cement slab on the sand for an elevator allowing direct beach access from the mansion.

However, Lauch said limited work including blocking an entrance to the beach via a tunnel, will only be approved "if it can be dismantled."


Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.