The relaxed resort town of Antibes is tucked nicely between the glitz and glam of Nice and Cannes. When you want a small respite from the fabulousness of Nice, Antibes provides just what you need, while keeping the luxury intact.
Beyond the multi-million-dollar Euro yachts docked along the largest marina in the Mediterranean lies a labyrinth of cobblestone streets of old town Antibes encompassed by 16th-century ramparts.
As the Cote d’Azur’s second-largest town, Antibes is where quintessential French Riviera charm meets chic beach resort. And where walking is definitely the best option. Most of the attractions lie within the cobbled old town, and so long as you have your walking shoes on, getting around is a breeze.
After the first world war, American tycoon Frank Jay Gould opened a grand seaside resort in nearby Juan-les-Pins. With the region’s first hotel and casino, it has attracted such Hollywood stars as Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, and Scott Fitzgerald. Picasso was also a visitor and there is now a museum dedicated to him in town. Legends such as Graeme Greene and Max Ernst have also graced Antibes.
Places to Visit in Antibes
The Marché Provençal is the centre of life in the old town. With its 19th-century iron roof, the market offers not only the freshest local produce, it’s also an amazing place to just soak up the sights, sounds and smells of traditional Provencal cuisine. The market is open every day except Monday until 1 pm.
Wander the streets behind the market and through the Promenade-Amira-de Grasse and its ramparts, where you can take in the wonderful views of the Mediterranean.
Notable landmarks include the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea d’Antibes, with its sculptured wood façade. Or the Musée d’Archéologie covering 4,000 years of history of the area. And if you happen to be interested in the La Fee Verte (the Green Fairy), you must visit Bar à Absinthe, located near the market. Take a dive into the past with a visit to this bar/museum. Sip your Absinthe and learn about this nineteenth-century favourite tipple.
Aside from the old town, Antibes has sprawled out to become a larger town along the coast. Outside of the city limits, it’s worth leaving some time to visit Cap d’Antibes. a beautiful wooded cape with walking trails and gorgeous seaside mansions. The views from the sea walls are spectacular. You can see to Nice and the snow-capped Alps.
Picasso said, if you want to see the Picassos from Antibes, you must go to see them in Antibes. During 1946 Picasso spent some time at the 14th century Chateau Grimaldi. The chateau now houses an excellent collection of his works.
Just 7 km west of Antibes is the Musée National Picasso, which is dedicated to the artist’s last great political work: Chapelle La Guerre et La Paix (War and Peace Chapel).
A collection of powerful murals painted by Picasso in 1952 are displayed on the walls of a disused 12th-century chapel in Vallauris. There is also a potter’s village where he resided between 1948-1955.
Jardin Botanique de la Villa Thuret is set in the heart of Cap d’Antibes and is a gorgeous 19th-century villa set in stunning botanical gardens. It was founded by botanist Gusteve Thuret, who fell in love with the natural beauty of Cap d’Antibes and bought five hectares of land on which he built his gorgeous villa and cultivated the botanical gardens, which visitors can enjoy today. The gardens are home to over 1600 species of exotic shrubs and trees, with a beautiful collection of ornamental species from the Mediterranean coast.
The impenetrable 16th century Fort Carré is situated on the approach to Antibes from Nice. It was originally used as a defence post when Antibes was governed by Italy. There are guided tours of the fort which take place every half-hour.
The Plage de Garoupe (Garoupe Beach) is Antibe’s immaculately kept beach and worth a separate visit if you don’t have time during your day trip. Not only does it have gorgeous soft sand, crystal clear waters and a delightful wooden jetty lined with sun chairs. The beach is set within the pretty Bay of Angels with far-reaching views to Nice.
During the summer months, most of the sandy areas are reserved for visitors and members of the private beach clubs. There are two sandy areas that are open to the public, and from late-September, the whole beach becomes public. There are several good restaurants – from fine dining to the more reasonably priced.
An interesting fact about Plage de Garoupe is that it banned visitors from taking selfies. They believe that people should be enjoying the moment, not capturing it. We agree! There is plenty of free parking around the beach, but this does get busy during the summer months.
If you are travelling with kids, a separate day trip from Nice to Marineland is an excellent choice.
How to Get to Antibes
From Nice: Take the train to Antibes, just a 12-minute ride from Nice.
There are also buses available throughout the day. Trains depart from both the Nice Ville Train Station and from Saint Augustin every 10-15 minutes. Taking a taxi is another option, but it is much more expensive.
For glamour, old-world charm and great scenery, Antibes is a must while visiting the French Riviera. It is a sparkling coastal treasure with a fascinating past.