Antibes Travel Guide
Antibes is a popular seaside town in the French Riviera, with beaches and natural bays. It’s known for its old town enclosed by 16th-century ramparts with the star-shaped Fort Carré which overlooks luxury yachts moored at the Port Vauban marina.
The forested Cap d’Antibes peninsula, dotted with grand villas, separates Antibes from Juan-les-Pins, a chic resort with buzzing nightlife and the Jazz à Juan music festival. With landmarks full of historicity and modern combined with the upbeat nightclubs, beaches, and casinos, this resort town is a true treasure in Côte d’Azur.
In this travel guide, Iconic Riviera will acquaint you with the essentials about one of the historic yet leisurely spots in the French Riviera— Antibes:
Antibes is in the southeastern part of France, and has a population of around 75,000 citizens. Antibes is on the French part of the Mediterranean sea (called the French Riviera), between Cannes and Nice. Cannes is 10 kilometers away, while Nice is 25 kilometers. It has a Mediterranean climate of dry summers and mild, slightly wet winters.
Juan-les-Pins is a well-known village within the commune of Antibes. The area has many pine trees (pins in French), where it got its name. Juan-les-Pins is next to the small fishing village of Golfe Juan. Many refer to the whole resort town as Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins.
Antibes: A Historic Town
The Phocaean Greeks founded an acropolis in the area in the 4th century. The name of the town, Antipolis, meant “the city across”. Its name was a nod to its sister-city, Nice, since trade routes existed along its coast.
Later, Antibes became a Roman settlement. You can trace the Greek and Roman history through the castle and the church. There are still remains of aqueducts (water supply structures) built by the Romans. Villas and townhouses from ancient times are excavated and show the luxurious life of its dwellers.
Juan-les-Pins is a popular destination for jet-setters. Younger tourists prefer the upbeat vibes of Juan-les-Pins from the rest of Antibes. Juan-les-Pins has everything you’d want in a destination: beaches, night-clubs, casinos, festivals, and expensive boutiques.
Here, you can have an Italian dinner with a fancy cocktail or chilled glass of rosé at sunset overlooking the sea. In late-night, you can exhaust your remaining energy dancing and partying from dusk ’til dawn. The Jazz à Juan and Jammin’Juan jazz festivals are big musical attractions.
If you’re looking for a quiet time, hang on the promenades and picnic under the groves of pines that grow abundantly in the area.
Old Town Antibes
The old town inside the medieval walls is historic and enchanting. The cobbled-street and beautiful facades of the building have the Renaissance touch. The sights and scents are genuinely Provencal. Its streets are full of boutiques, gourmet food shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Ramparts are open for strolls. The old town center is also within the walls. The sea wall at the edge of the town gives a scenic view of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most prominent structures is the Picasso Museum, previously known as Chateau Grimaldi. Check out our guide to the Picasso Museum and its history and our guide to the best places to see art on the French Riviera.
It is one of the millionaire’s paradises in the French Riviera. It has the palatial villas of many extremely wealthy individuals and is home to the famous Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc . At its summit is the lighthouse, the Phare de la Garoupe. You can reach it via the stony road of Chemin du Calcaire, which is good for a half-day seaside stroll.
The Best Sights in Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins
Marche Provencal: Antibes’ Famous Open Market
This market is a covered iron-framed structure where you can find fresh Provencal products. Locals, as well as tourists, can enjoy buying tempting fruits and vegetables, cheeses, tapenades, herbs, olives, olive oils, and dried sausages. There is also a craft market in the summer. Shops and cafés are on one side.
Église de l’Immaculée Conception
The Church of Immaculate Conception , a Roman Catholic church, is a national monument. The other name for it is Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea d’Antibes. It has an ochre and classical russet Italian facade. Inside, there is both modern and Renaissance art, including a painting of the Virgin with the rosary and a life-size wood-carve depiction of Christ’s death.
Place Nationale: Antibes’ Main Square
This square has café terraces in summer and a Christmas market in winter. You can find and buy antiques, handicrafts, jewelry, and other trinkets on the stalls. At the center of the square is a 5-meter high column. It was a gift from Loius XVIII to the royalists of Antibes for not accepting Napoleon Bonaparte after his escape in Elba.
Antibes-Juan-les-Pins has no shortage of beaches with its 25-kilometer coastline. There are 48 private and public beaches in all. There are several sandy beaches like La Gravette, Ponteil, and Salis where the water is shallow. Juan-les-Pins has public beaches, while Cap d’Antibes has private beaches and sometimes hidden resorts complete with umbrellas and parasols. They also have water activities like snorkeling and diving. Check out our guide to the best beaches.
This park is at the center of a 12-acre olive grove. Its main entrance has an Italian Renaissance traditional design with ponds and fountains alongside the terrace. A typical Provencal garden shrub maze is a pleasant sight. You can also enjoy the sight of roses and palm groves.
This park is in the center of Juan-les-Pins. The pine grove gave the town its name. On the north is a playground for children. There are also benches good for sitting in the sunshine or under the shade of the pines. Overlooking the beaches there is a large structure that becomes an open-air theater for concerts. It is a venue for Jazz à Juan, and Jammin’Juan in the summer. Visitors can also see the handprint of jazz performers who played at the festival along the footpaths.
Villa Eilenroc Gardens
This villa cum garden is in Cap d’Antibes , home to the town’s magnificent and luxurious mansions and villas. It is the only one to be open to the public. It houses hundreds of rose varieties and an impressive collection of plants and shrubs, including a grove of 50 olive trees. It symbolizes a bridge between past and future generations.
Port Vauban: Antibes’ Main Port
Port Vauban has the largest marina and yachting harbor in all the French Riviera and even in Europe. It can moor more than 2000 ships and crafts. The port can also accommodate crafts that are more than a hundred meters, so it’s a popular spot for the world’s billionaires to dock their superyachts.
Le Fort Carré
Fort Carre is a masterpiece of military engineering. It has four pointed bastions and a circular keep at the center. The fort is a prominent feature in the skyline on the far side of the yacht harbor. The rampart walk gives a scenic view.
The Picasso Museum is in a former Greek acropolis and then a Roman castrum. The chateau was, for a time, home to the Grimaldis, who served as governors in the town’s historic times. Picasso worked here in 1946 and it now houses one of the world’s largest collections of Picasso’s art. It has a collection of 24 paintings, 4 drawings, 32 lithographs, and 11 oils on papers. There are also 80 pieces of ceramics, two sculptures, and five tapestries.
Traveling to Antibes
By air: The Nice airport is the nearest to Antibes. It is around 20 kilometers away. It takes about 20 to 40 minutes to reach Antibes.
By car: Take the Motorway a8, “la Provencale, then the turn to Exit 44.
By bus: Take the airport bus #250 from the bus center at Terminal 1 or in front of Terminal 2.
By train: Take bus #23 at Terminal 1 of the bus center to the station Nice San Agustin. Then, ride at TER to Antibes-Juan-les-Pins.