Antibes is a city in the French Riviera. The Cap d'Antibes is the break between the Bay of Cannes to the south-west and the Baie des Anges to the north east. Old Antibes and the port of Antibes are on the mainland on the side facing the Baie des Anges, while Juan les Pins is on the Cannes side and the magnificent Fort Carré lies between the port of Antibes and the rest of the Baie des Anges. Although Antibes is best known for its coast, the municipality does stretch up the hills inland.
During the summer, the place is packed, primarily with French families. In the evenings, everyone is out at the many outdoor restaurants in the old part of Antibes and in Juan les Pins. A fun place for a relaxed vacation.
Antibes was founded by the Greeks over 2000 years ago with the name Antipolis. Shortly afterwards it was incorporated into the expanding Roman Empire when it was known as Antiboul. With the fall of the Roman Empire Antibes was a target of pirates and raiders until the growing power of Genoa removed most of these menaces.
Around the 11th century AD Antibes was a feudal town whose eventual overlord was the Pope. In 1384 it passed into the hands of the Grimaldi family - the former Genovese merchant princes who had now moved westwards to Monaco and Nice - as collateral to a loan that the Pope could not repay. Shortly after this Antibes became the easternmost port of the kingdom of France - at that time Nice was part of Savoy - and thus was extremely important. Over the years, and particularly during the 100 years war, it's port was continually fortified and expanded, culminating in the Fort Carré and the Port Vauban finished in 1710.
The first tourists arrived at Cap d'Antibes in the 1880s and the adjacent town of Juan les Pins was built at the end of the 19th century. Although it expanded, during the early 20th century Antibes was less developed than its neighbors on the French Riviera and was thus a haven for artists such as Picasso and later Nicolas de Staël. This under-development did not last and as the 20th century drew to a close the combined municipality of Antibes-Juan-les-Pins was just a part of the unbroken development between Nice and Cannes.
There are three tourist information offices in Antibes-Juan les Pins:
- 42, avenue Robert Soleil (Antibes)
- 60, chemin des Sables (Juan-les-Pins)
- 51, boulevard Charles Guillaumont (Juan-les-Pins)
- On Boulevard d'Aguillon at the corner of Rue Thuret, in the old town near the ramparts
- 1 Antibes railway station (Gare d'Antibes), Place Pierre Sémard. Main station where both regional and long distance trains calls.
- 2 Juan-les-Pins railway station (Gare de Juan-les-Pins), 2 Avenue de l'Estérel. Smaller and quiter station, only regional TER trains calls here.
There is a regular bus service (#200) between Cannes, Antibes and Nice from Place Charles de Gaulle. Alternate buses go to Nice Airport (#250) and to Cap 3000, a large, pleasant but quite expensive shopping centre near Nice.
The Nice airport is the closest airport to Antibes. It is about 20 km from the airport to Antibes.
The usual method of driving to Antibes is to take the A8 and exit at the Antibes exit (junction 44) and then taking the winding road down to Antibes. It is possible to approach Antibes along the coastal roads (RN98 and RN7) from Cannes and Nice/Cagnes sur Mer. In summer all these coastal roads can be extremely congested as can the main route from the A8. There are, however, very few alternative methods of access and all of them eventually use one of these roads so if you want to go to Antibes then you pretty much have to expect traffic jams.
- Walk. Antibes is a beautiful city. Walking to the old downtown is easy and makes for excellent views.
- Bike. Although Antibes may be very hilly in certain areas, riding bikes is certainly beautiful and somewhat rewarding. There are bike lanes starting at about the outskirts of the port on the Route de Nice and Bord de la Mer. You can ride from Antibes to Villeneuve-Loubet, and probably beyond, without much difficulty.
- 1 Le Sentier Du Littoral, Cap D'antibes. An easy and scenic 2-hour walk along the coastline. Free.
- The Cap (very romantic under a full moon) and beaches
- The port
- Old town and covered market
- Picasso museum - For hardcore Picasso fans. It's where he lived, on the sea. Some choice works, painted plates, and a sculpture garden (not Picasso's).
- Beaches of Juan les Pins
- Jazz Festival
- The former Art Déco villa of Francis Scott-Fitzgerald (now Hotel Belles Rives)
- The covered market (Marché Provençal) offers fresh products every morning except Monday. It is a magnificent selection of meat, fish, cheese and vegetables. You will find the market close to the harbour.
- Cap d'Antibes is a beautiful and invigorating walk around the cape. Do not forget the good walking shoes and a bit of water. During bad weather, all or part of the sentier may be closed.
For those with the right qualifications and experience, the luxury super yachts of International Yacht Club of Antibes has spawned a major industry in crew and boat services which attracts many young English speakers. Employment agency connections are important as many the yachts post signs to deter casual inquiries - "no day-workers required." YPI Crew, 6 Avenue de la Libération 06600 Antibes, ☏ .
- Juan les Pins has a number of trendy boutiques
- In the old town a number of galleries with art for sale including paintings of local scenes
- Supermarkets - Carrefour and the centre commercial by the A8, various smaller ones down the hill. The supermarkets, especially Carrefour, also sell the cheapest petrol locally.
- Antibes has a number of natural and health food stores, including le Panier Vert, Biocoop and Amplitude Bio. There are several other smaller health food stores in the area.
- The SPAR grocery store on Boulevard Wilson (near Lycée Audiberti) is 'non-stop' and has late closing hours (by French standards). They remain open when most other grocery stores do not.
Antibes features both standard French cuisine as well as local specials focusing on fresh seafood and produce from Provence. Scenic restaurants can be found around the port of Antibes, in the old town, and in Juan les Pins.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cafés, bars and salons de thé in Antibes. Tea tends to be expensive (up to €4 per person) and not the highest quality (Lipton tea bags, for example). Coffee from coffee machines (35-50 centimes) is actually pretty decent, and good in a pinch.
Antibes can be a difficult place for vegetarian or vegan travellers. Vegetarians should not have much trouble but vegans can expect ending up with a bland and expensive salad. Servers tend to not be very accommodating and are often visibly insulted if asked to modify a dish. There is hope, however. There is a 'falafel place' in the old town near the covered market with vegan options. There is also Chez Helen's, a vegetarian restaurant with vegan options in the old town. There are also a few Indian restaurants in the old town and, in Juan les Pins, a number of Asian restaurants.
- La Passagere, 33, boulevard Baudoin, ☏ . Gourmet Restaurant. Quintessence of fine cuisine, la Passagère has one of the most popular terraces of the Riviera: panorama over the bay of Juan-les-Pins. €29-120.
- Bistrot Terrasse, 19, avenue Gallice, ☏ . Hip restaurant nestled in the casual, contemporary and cosy atmosphere in an oasis of calm with palm fringed terrace, delicious authentic Mediterranean food, wine cellar and an indulgent pastry corner. €19-39.
- Chamkila, 4 rue Sade. Indian food, plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Friendly staff, cosy and colourful ambiance.
One interesting place to drink at is the Absinthe Bar La Balade (25 Cours Masséna, Antibes - Tel. 04 93 34 93 00 -email: email@example.com). Absinthe, the mysterious green liqueur so much associated with 19th century artists and writers such as Van Gogh and Baudelaire, was outlawed for decades because of the health risks associated with its abuse, namely insanity and death. However these side effects seem to have been due to "quality control" issues and the herbs that go into absinthe are in fact good for you. Absinthe was only reintroduced legally again in about 2003, and there are very few places where it is possible to drink it. The bar is set in the basement of the Olive Oil shop by the covered market (Marché Provençal) of Antibes and is full of charm even without the lure of Absinthe. If there is a group of you the host will normally give each member of the group a slightly different absinthe so that you can try the different varieties. It is quite an experience and will set you back a mere €4 for a glass. Given the price of beer in the touristy bars by the port this is a real bargain. On Friday nights there is a piano man. The Absinthe bar also provides you with dozens of silly hats (yes, hats), which everyone wears and trades as the evening goes on.
- Bar Fitzgerald at the Hotel Belles Rives, 33, boulevard Baudoin, ☏ . The Bar Fitzgerald is part of the much closed circle of Cafés Historiques et Patrimoniaux d'Europe with one of the most popular terraces of the Riviera over the bay of Juan-les-Pins.
- 1 Hotel Belles Rives, 33 Boulevard Edouard Baudoin, ☏ . Off the mythical road to Cap d'Antibes, a breathtaking art-deco palace sits on the water's edge overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean with outstanding sea views. Former private mansion of Zelda & Scott-Fitzgerald, the Belles Rives offers 43 luxurious accommodations including 4 suites, Gourmet Restaurant La Passagere, Beach Restaurant Belles Rives, Private Beach, Water Sports Club, Piano Bar, 24 hours room service. Rooms from €150.
- Hotel Juana, La Pinede - 19, avenue Gallice, ☏ . A shining example of 1930s Art-Deco architecture promising plenty of Riviera sparkle with a white marble pool, an hip restaurant named Bistrot Terrasse with a subtle jazz ambiance. Located in the heart of Juan-Les-Pins, a few steps away from the beach, the Hotel Juana offers 40 luxurious accommodations including 4 suites, swimming pool, fitness centre with bath steam, 24 hours room service. €130-1300.
- Antibes - Pierre & Vacances Port Prestige. The Residence occupies a prime location opposite Port Vauban and the ramparts, between the lively harbour and historical centre of Antibes. It consists of 5 small buildings, each with 4 floors, all linked by Mediterranean gardens. The Residence has a remarkable layout characterised by the harmonious combination of architecture, water and plants of a magnificent garden with terraces of trees, flowers and ponds. 1 km from the residence, on the seafront road, you will find a free and unsupervised pebble beach and also a free and unsupervised sandy one, 400 m from the residence behind the old port.
- Garden Beach Hotel, 15-17 boulevard Edouard Baudoin, ☏ . On the waterfront with marvellous terrace overlooking the sea. The rooms are with modern furniture and generous dimensions, with big beds. On demand satellite TV giving a good range of British tv channels. There is an underground car park. The staff is friendly and helpful. €139-279.