To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn’s famous quote, “Paris is always a good idea,” I have felt the same way about the enticing old town of Antibes since I first set foot there … let’s just say many decades ago.
These days there are a lot of changes happening in the vieille ville. Progress is catching up with the town in many ways. Tourism is rapidly growing in this part of the Côte d’Azur and these beautiful small towns are often packed with visitors. However, do not lose hope!
It’s said that Antibes gave Picasso a new lease on life during his brief stay in 1946. I still find it is possible to choose your time, be selective and enjoy this medieval gem. Here are some suggestions for your new lease on life!
Allow me to share my go-to spots:
La Chapelle de Saint-Bernardin
A short stroll along Rue de la Republique and a left turn onto Rue du Docteur Rostan, will bring you to this 16th Century chapel, built on Roman ruins like many other buildings in le vieil Antibes. An impressive restoration has uncovered original frescos. The year 1581 is carved into magnificent side doors … if I had not told you, you might have overlooked them. After suffering a terrible plague, the local survivors had these doors carved to give thanks to God it had finally ended. Not to be missed. La Chapelle de Saint-Bernardin
Le Relais du Postillon
This is the only hotel I choose and I constantly recommend it. With a two- star rating, the building has a storied past and is in an ideal location at the beginning of the old town. Family run and fully renovated, warm hospitality is found in the cozy bar and each of the 16 individually decorated rooms can be chosen from the hotel website.
Commune de Safranier
The narrow, cobblestone streets of this historic quarter are impossible to resist at any time of year. In spring and summer the allure is at its peak with colourful masses of flowering shrubs and vines spilling into the petites ruelles.
Amble past shops and restaurants to Cours Massena where the daily morning market (except Mondays between September and May) will be in full swing. Friendly vendors beckon from their colorful stalls overflowing with local produce, meat, cheeses, spices, flowers, and more. At the far end, join the queue at the socca oven for the traditional snack. Cafés line the street bordering the market. The Musée Picasso is only one street back from here, next to the Cathedral and in the midst of the oldest of village buildings.
Gelateria Del Porto
Steps from the marché, the crowd will indicate the shop of this master artisan glacier. Traditional recipes have been handed down through generations. Year after year I visit regularly. You will too!
Beaches and Walking Trails
Down the street from the Marché and outside the walls, you will find my favourite beach ~ Plage de la Gravette. The pebble beaches of Nice change to sand in Antibes. This one is a small lagoon nestled into the ramparts of the old town. A short walk around the bay brings you to Plage de la Salis, a much larger public beach with the best places to purchase le snack! Walk along Boulevard Bacon to the more elegant Plage de la Garoupe, where you can pick up the beautiful coastal path, Sentier Litoral, to hike for 1 to 2 hours around Cap d’Antibes. Not tired? Keep going to the western part of Antibes, Juan-les-Pins.
Sitting on the sea in Juan-les-Pins, the iconic Art Deco 5-star hotel has a celebrated terrace that should not be missed. Travel back to the days of the Roaring Twenties and the history of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, who lived there for a time when this was a private villa. The Michelin starred dining room, La Passagère, is a bonus. Read more about the Hotel Belle Rives
I could go on. Antibes holds endless pleasures for me and I trust these suggestions will do the same for you. If you can visit during the annual sailing fiesta, Les Voiles d’Antibes, in June, all the better. On y va!
Patricia Sands writes women’s fiction for Lake Union Publishing, including the best-selling Love in Provence series and Drawing Lessons. Book Two in her new Villa des Violettes series was recently published. Find out more at www.patriciasandsauthor.com.