The spatial and temporal resolution of satellite altimetry is usually sufficient for monitoring the changes of sea surface topography in the open ocean. However, coastal ocean dynamics are much more complex, being characterized by smaller spatial and temporal scales of variability. The quality and availability of satellite-derived products along the coasts have to be improved, with a strategy optimized for coastal targets. Therefore a coastal multi-satellite altimetry dataset (TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1; Envisat; GFO) at a 10 - 20 Hz sampling rate has been derived from routine geophysical data products using a new processing software dedicated to coastal zone applications. Improved along-track sea level variations with fine space scales are available in the North-western Mediterranean Sea from 2001 to 2003, and are compared with high-resolution numerical model elevations from the eddy-resolving model SYMPHONIE. This preparatory work emphasizes the potential of improved multi-satellite altimetry for validating coastal hydro-dynamical models and could contribute in the future to a better tuning of the boundary conditions of the simulations.