Experience the beautiful and historic spirit of Antibes

Experience the beautiful and historic spirit of Antibes

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

When you’re in the South of France visiting any of the coastal towns, most plans and schedules go out the window. Yes, you can build an itinerary, visit museums and other must-see locations, but it’s also about exhaling a breath, taking in your surroundings—mainly the sea—and basking in the beauty of it all.

The French Riviera coast is dotted with a number of beautiful towns and cities, from busier Nice to quieter Saint Tropez, glamorous Cannes and today’s focus: historic Antibes. Only a 15-minute train ride from Nice, Antibes is a little slower than the more popular hub of the area but no less vibrant. It is an even shorter ride from Cannes, known for its international film festival, which brings actresses, actors and other celebrities to the region every year.

Throughout history, artists have found inspiration in Antibes, whether it be from the seascapes, views of the Alps or lively culture of the town. Pablo Picasso is well-known for his time in Antibes, so much so that the city’s castle, Chateau Grimaldi, was transformed into the Picasso Museum. Antibes is also home to an internationally known jazz festival. Just by walking through town you can tell that the city loves its art and music through various displays of public art.

Like many of the coastal cities in the South of France, Antibes is filled with luxurious villas and homes in various beachy pastel colors and is surrounded by towering palm trees. The city, like many in the area, has historically been a destination of luxury and wealth, catering to the social elite, royalty and the rich and famous. It also is home to the largest marina on the Mediterranean, Port Vauban, which houses even more luxury in the incredible yachts docked there. This port has been used since Roman times.

Speaking of Roman times, Antibes has a rich and layered history with Roman rule, culture and technology. With a strategic location along the Mediterranean, the Romans fortified the city with fortifications such as still-standing Fort Carré, which is featured in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.”

Part of the beauty and artistry of Antibes is seeing the relics of history next to the modern art and architecture, creating a new character of its own. Even the previously mentioned Picasso Museum sits on the ancient Greek acropolis of Antipolis before it was held by the Romans.

The Old Town of Antibes is worth a visit to get a taste of its layered history, in large part because of its rampart walls, some of which still stand today. Other spots to visit between lounging on the beach include the Cap d’Antibes “Tire-Poil” Footpath, a trail that is open to the public after the city reclaimed it from being privatized and blocked by villa residents. A stroll on this path is an ideal way to explore the coast and capture views of Nice and the natural side of Antibes.

You can then catch a different, yet equally magnificent, perspective from the Garoupe Plateau. Here, you can visit a lighthouse with a surrounding chapel and cafe to experience views stretching all the way from Italy to the northern Alps.

If you’re traveling with little ones who want to keep the action going, a visit to Marineland to see dolphins and other sea mammals would be a victory for the whole family. You could also plan a beach day, starting with a stroll through the Marché Provençal to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and other snacks before heading down to the water. Lucky for you, Antibes has more sand beaches, making it a little more comfortable on your feet compared to the more stone-filled beaches in Nice and the surrounding area.

Maybe you aren’t as interested in bringing your own picnic to the beach, and in that case, there are numerous restaurants and bars along the coast. So, choose a table in the sand, pick out your favorite local rosé, order a cheese plate or a fresh salad with colorful veggies or tasty fish and exhale. You’re in the South of France, relaxing next to the Mediterranean. At this moment, what else do you need?

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