Antibes, just 30km from Nice, feels a world away from the hustle and bustle and bling of its Côte d’Azur neighbours. Think quiet streets, individual boutiques and a town that is very much still lived in and loved by its residents. Access is easy by public transport or road from Nice as well as the other holiday towns on the coast.
Here are a few things you must see in Antibes if you visit:
1. Musée Picasso: This pinkish stone castle, formerly a stronghold of the Grimaldi family (yes, the Monaco Grimaldis), was home to Picasso for six months in 1925. He went on to donate some of the most evocative works of this era to the town, and they are displayed here in all their pared-down glory. A wonderful intimate way to experience Picasso’s work.
2. The Marché Provencal: By day, a bustling (if touristy) Southern market. This is a great place to stock up on fresh local produce including fruit, cheese, meat and spices as well as arty knick-knacks. By night, tables spill out from adjoining restaurants and the whole thing turns into one big dining-room.
3. La Plage de la Gravette (Gravette Beach): One of the Mediterranean’s most recognisable (and atmospheric) beaches, nestled in the arms of the town walls and just a stagger from the restaurants and bars of the old town centre. Lovely sheltered swimming for young ‘uns and old ‘uns alike and a popular place for a picnic, even late into the night.
4. Le Nomade: This emblematic sculpture presides over the port, by day blending into the clouds and by night standing out like a (beautiful) sore thumb.
5. Port Vauban: Follow the harbour walls to the East, and you reach Port Vauban. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you reach the yachts that are bigger than shopping malls. Take a stroll here to see how the other half live.
6. Plage de la Salis: Antibes’ biggest beach has stunning views over the old town and to the Alps beyond.
7. Town life: Antibes is a wonderful place to hang out and people watch, especially once the daytrippers have left and the chic locals start emerging for an evening apéritif. Find a spot at a table, order your favourite tipple and Voila.
8. Le Safranier: This ‘free commune’ within the city of Antibes is well off the tourist trail, and is where the celebrated Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis settled and wrote a number of works including Zorba the Greek. Lunch at La Taverne du Safranier is understated and unmissable.
9. La Musée d’Archéologie: See artifacts from Antibes’ Greek past, as well as finds from nearby Roman, Etruscan and Phoenician shipwrecks.