Between Nice and Cannes lies the spa town of Antibes, known for two things: multi-million Euro megayachts and a labyrinthine historic town center surrounded by 16th century walls. The second largest city of the Côte d'Azur has about 80,000 inhabitants and has the largest marina in the Mediterranean, Port Vauban. Since long before the time of the Romans it attracts the most different ships.
Story, Camera, Editor : Bert Schwarz
© travel-magazine TV 2020
In Juan-les-Pins, the neighboring town of Antibes, American railroad magnate Frank Jay Gould opened a chic beach hotel after World War I, where Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Picasso, among others, stayed.
We came by car from Grasse, which is about half an hour away. Port Vauban was not only the fixed point for us to be able to park as centrally as possible and to explore the city center on foot, but the amazingly inexpensive parking lot also has normal sized parking spaces, where you can stand "sittted" without having to use 1½ spaces, because the layout is designed for VW Beetles or 2CVs.
Furthermore, one is 5 minutes walking distance from the old town or about a ½ hour from the Fort Carré. For our taste: Brilliant.
Of course there is also public transportation like airplane (Nice Côte d'Azur Airport) or train (TGV).
Those who are not familiar with the old town can experience the old town directly from their car. This is exciting, because the city's builders did not know
about cars, let alone SUVs. Good for those who have electrically folding rearview mirrors on their cars. Here it is simply a matter of keeping calm and meandering
through the alleys until you get through the city walls to the harbor.
For motor home drivers this part of the city is taboo!
Walking is the easiest way to get to know the old town of Antibes. But be careful, girls: sneakers are in right here because of the pavement, even though heels might look nicer.
There are buses, but they mainly go to other towns and villages. A good way to explore Antibes and especially the glamorous, villa-lined peninsula Cap d'Antibes in particular, is to cycle there. There are very few official parking lots, and for the hidden ones you have to know your way around...
Between Antibes and Juan-les-Pins you will find many hotels, perhaps the most glamorous one is the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, a hotel with 33 changing rooms at the and an infinity pool over the Mediterranean Sea. To give you an idea of how legendary this place is, it served as inspiration for Fitzgerald's classic novel "Tender is the Night". Another place that was a favorite of Fitzgerald's is Juan-les-Pins's Hôtel Belles Rives, the former Villa Saint Louis, where the writer and his wife Zelda once lived.
Today the hotel - the first one on the French Rivera - houses 43 guest rooms and a Michelin-starred restaurant, La Passagère.
For all those whose vacation budget does not allow this accommodation or whose way of enjoying vacations is another, there is consolation: campsites can be found from ½ to ¾ an hour's drive from Antibes in Grasse or La-Colle-sur-Loup.
In the winding alleys of the old town you will find a number of charming bistros serving classic Mediterranean dishes. For the more sophisticated taste, we have heard of the family-run restaurant Le Bacon in Cap d'Antibes. The lack of time has and so far has saved us from being tempted.
If you prefer to dine directly on the water, go to Cap d'Antibes, to one of the best kept secrets of Antibes: the beach of La Garoupe. Here you can relax in one of the many private beach clubs.
Visit to the Musée Picasso: In 1946 the painter Pablo Picasso transformed the 14th century Château Grimaldi into his own studio, leaving behind 23 paintings and 44 drawings. Today the château is the first art museum dedicated to the artist and houses 245 paintings and sculptures by Picasso (including his Joie de Vivre in 1946) as well as a selection of works by contemporary artists such as Joan Miro, Nicolas de Staël and Fernand Léger.
Visits to artisans who maintain their studios in the old city walls.
Walking along the coastline: From the beaches of Garoupe at Cap d'Antibes, a coastal footpath leads to the walls of the old town on a two-hour easy walk around the peninsula. The "Chemin des Douaniers", also known as the "Sentier de Tire-Poil", leads to the top of the Cap d'Antibes and the Villa Eilenroc, a beauty from the Belle Epoque, designed by the same architect who designed the opera houses in Paris and Monte-Carlo.
Visit the market: Every day from 06:00 to 13:00, cheese merchants, fishermen and florists offer their wares on the covered Provençal market at the Cour Masséna. From mid-June to the end of September, the market transforms into a craft market in the afternoons (except Mondays) where painters, sculptors and ceramists present their works. During the summer months of July and August, night markets are held in the evenings on the Juan-les-Pins' Promenade du Soleil and Antibes L'proplanade du Pré-des-Pêcheurs.