Exploring Antibes: A Travel Guide
If what one looks for a good holiday breakaway, this resorts town in French Riviera is a sure shot. It has almost everything that travelers are looking for. Vacationers can spend good weekends here. It can also be a good start the whole French Riviera. This travel guide will help everyone in exploring Antibes, a true Mediterranean treasure.
Location, Climate, and People
Antibes is in the southeastern part of France. It is under the Alpes-Maritimes département. It is between Cannes and Nice. Cannes is 10 kilometers away, while Nice is 25 kilometers. It is a popular seaside town, with beaches and natural bays.
Juan-les-Pins is a well-known village within the commune of Antibes. The area has many pines (pins in French) where it got its name. It is next to the small fishing village of Golfe Juan. Many refers to the whole resorts town as Antibes-Juan-les-Pins.
One can experience a fine 300 days of summer. It has a Mediterranean climate. It has dry summers and mild, wet winters.
There are around 75 000 citizens in Antibes. French is the official language in the town. Some locals still speak Occitan. The spelling of Juan-les-Pins has the Occitan root. It uses Juan instead of French Jean.
A Historic Town
The Phocaean Greeks founded an acropolis in the area around the 4th century before our common era. The name of the town, Antipolis, means “the city across”. It is in relation to its location with Nice. Trade routes existed along its coast. Later, it became a Roman settlement later. One can trace the Greek traces around the castle and the church. There are still remains of aqueducts (water supply structures) built by the Romans. Villas and town-houses from ancient times are excavated and shows the luxurious life of its dwellers.
It is a popular destination for jet-setters. Younger tourists prefer the upbeat vibes of Juan-les-Pins from the rest of Antibes. It has various beaches, night-clubs, casinos, and expensive boutiques. The Jazz à Juan and Jammin’Juan jazz festival have it as their venue. One can have an Italian dinner or a fancy cocktail of chilled-glass of rosé at sunset or early evening. In late night, one can exhaust up their remaining energy dancing and partying from dusk ’til dawn. But tourists can also have a quiet time with promenades and picnics under the groves of pines that grow abundantly in the area.
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, scents, and savor are of genuine Provencal. Its street is full of boutiques, gourmet food shops, cafés, and restaurants. Ramparts are open for strolls. The sea wall at the edge of the town gives a scenic view of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most prominent structure is the Picasso Museum, known as the Chateau Grimaldi before.
- Marche Provencal: This upmarket is a covered iron-framed structure where one 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 summer times. Shops and cafés are on one side. It is where one can locate the renowned Absinthe Bar.
- Église de l’Immaculée Conception: This 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. there are both modern and Renaissance art. Inside are a painting of the Virgin with the rosary and a life-size wood-carve depiction of Christ’s death.
- Place Nationale: This square has café terraces in summer and a Christmas market in winter. One 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 is 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. It has a 25-kilometer coastline. There are 48 private and public beaches in all. There are shingle beaches in the eastern part. the water here is quite deep and cooler. Some-fast-food outlets and showers are present. There are also sandy beaches like La Gravette, Ponteil, and Salis. The water here is shallow. The ramparts shade the La Gravette on sundown. Juan-les-Pins have public beaches. Cap d’Antibes has private beaches and sometimes hidden resorts complete with umbrellas and parasols. They also have water activities like snorkeling and diving.
- Parc Exflora: This park is new among the parks and gardens in the town. At the center of the 12-acre land is an olive grove. Its main entrance coming from the main terrace has an Italian Renaissance traditional design. Present also are ponds and fountains alongside the terrace. A typical Provencal garden shrub maze is a pleasant sight. One can also enjoy the sight of roses and palm groves. It is a belvedere at the very end of the garden facing the sea.
- La Pinède: It 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: Villa Eilenroc is in Cap d’Antibes, home to the towns magnificent and luxurious mansions and villas. It is the only one to be open to the public. It possesses a rose garden with hundreds of rose varieties. Around it is an impressive collection of plants and shrubs. 50 olive trees are planted in a grove. It symbolizes a bridge between past and future generation. It is planted in honor of the children born on the first year of the 2nd millennium.
- Thuret Botanical Garden: This park is part of a research institute in botany. It was a place where exotic plants were made to adapt to the Mediterranean climate. Cross-fertilization was also done in here. Now, these exotic plants are part of the landscape of the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur. The park raised the popularity of Mediterranean garden cultivation and management.
Other Sights and Sites
- Port Vauban: It has the largest marina and yachting harbor in Europe. It can moor more than 2000 ships and crafts. The port can also accommodate crafts that are more than a hundred meters.
- Cap d’Antibes: It is a millionaire’s paradise. It has the palatial villas of many rich individuals and home to the famous Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc. At its summit is the lighthouse, the Phare de la Garoupe. The way to reach it is the stony road of Chemin du Calcaire, which is good for a half-day stroll.
- Marineland: It makes the public discover and appreciate the fascinating universe of marine life. There are more than 3000 animals from more than 40 different species. It is one of the biggest marine parks in the world. It receives about 1.2 million visitors per year. Around Europe, it is the only one to have two cetaceans, the orcas and the dolphins.
- Le Fort Carré: It is a masterpiece of military engineering. It has four pointed bastions and a circular keep at the center. It is a prominent feature in the skyline on the far side of the yacht harbor. The rampart walk gives a scenic view.
- Musée d’Histoire et d’Archéologie: The museum houses a collection from the classical history of Antibes. It includes archeological digs and shipwrecks collection. Among the collection is the Antibes Pebble (Galet d’Antibes) from the 5th century before our common era. It is a large oval stone with curious inscriptions. There are also pots, amphorae, ancient anchors, Roman stela, funeral urns, and a mosaic from a Roman villa.
- Museé Picasso: Its site is a former Greek acropolis and then a Roman castrum. The Grimaldi made it their residence. The chateau was home to the Grimaldis who served as governors in the town’s historic times. It now houses one of the world’s largest collection of Picasso who worked here in 1946. 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. Among them are La Joie de vivre, Satyre, Faun et centaur au trident, and Nature morte à la chouette et aux trois oursins.
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.
- On a car: Take the Motorway a8, “la Provencale, then the turn to Exit 44.
- Riding the bus: Take the airport bus #250 from the bus center at Terminal 1 or in front of Terminal 2.
- Taking the train: Take bus #23 at Terminal 1 of the bus center to the station Nice San San Agustin. Then, ride at TER to Antibes-Juan-les-Pins.
Everyone will surely enjoy exploring every corner of this Mediterranean treasure in French Riviera.