Antibes & Juan-les-Pins Travel Guide

As you drive in along the coast, the first view of Antibes takes your breath away. An imposing medieval fortress juts out into the deep blue Mediterannean against a spectacular backdrop of the snow-tipped Alps. In the past, the resort has attracted painters including Picasso, Monet and Renoir. Today, it is a mega-rich jet-set crowd who moor their yachts on what the locals call Millionaires’ Quay.

If you’re looking at a map, it’s hard to know where Antibes ends and Juan-les-Pins begins. These Riviera neighbors are lumped together in brochures, giving the impression that it’s all one big cohesive sprawl along the Cap d’Antibes peninsula between Cannes and Nice. It isn’t, of course – not when you’ve got ancient Antibes with its Greek origins and 16th-century ramparts sitting next door to the art deco elegance of beach-lined Juan-les-Pins. They couldn’t be more different, nor would you want one without the other.

Antibes is actually made up of three parts: the historic Antibes old town, the idyllic peninsula of Cap d’Antibes, and the beaches, Art Deco villas and nightlife of the ever-glamorous Juan-les-Pins. Many refer to the whole resort town as Antibes-Juan-les-Pins.

‘Le Nomade’, a sculpture by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, made of letters and overlooking the sea from Port Vauban

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 overlooking luxury mega-yachts moored at the Port Vauban marina.

Cap d’Antibes is a forested peninsula is dotted with grand villas, and separates Antibes from Juan-les-Pins.

Juan-les-Pins is brashly commercial, in contrast to Antibes, which is all about highlighting its Provençal heritage. Still, it’s considered to be a chic resort with buzzing nightlife, albeit a smaller version of Miami.

Antibes is in the southeastern part of France, between Cannes and Nice, and has a population of around 75,000 citizens. Cannes is 10 kilometers away, while Nice is 25 kilometers. It has a Mediterranean climate of dry summers and mild, slightly wet winters.

The Antibes region has it all: landmarks full of historicity and modern combined with the upbeat nightclubs, beaches, and casinos.

Antibes

Be certain to spend some time strolling through the cobblestone streets of the historic and enchanting old town, inside the medieval walls. The cobbled-street and beautiful facades of the buildings have the Renaissance touch. The sights and scents are genuinely Provencal. Home to markets, shops, and restaurants, this charming neighborhood offers twists and turns and hidden treasures.

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.

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.

Juan-les-Pins

Juan-les-Pins is a popular destination for jet-setters, and known for its sandy white beaches. Administratively part of greater-Antibes, Juan-les-Pins nevertheless has a much different vibe than its neighbor. 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 (like Jazz à Juan), and expensive boutiques.

Peace is something you won’t find a lot of in Juan-les-Pins, but perhaps that’s what makes it such a good neighbor for Antibes. Juan-les-Pins buzzes during the summer season, its long beaches and pontoons blazing with the colors of thousands of sun loungers and parasols. It gets noisier every July during Jazz à Juan, which is Europe’s oldest jazz festival. But even when music isn’t filling the summer air, the streets throng with people eating on the palm-shaded restaurant terraces until the early hours. It’s like a civilized version of Ibiza.

Juan-les-Pins is known to be a great place to go shopping, particularly along the coastal road which is lined with small boutiques. The town is a favorite for Parisians in the garment trade and you can usually find interesting deals on women’s clothes and accessories.

Enjoy an afternoon drink at the waterside terrace of the Art Deco Hotel Belles Rives , once a private villa rented by F Scott Fitzgerald. In the evening, 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 until dawn.

Juan-les-Pins got its name from the many pine trees (pins in French) in the area. Hang on the promenades and picnic under the groves of pines that grow abundantly in the area. It’s a great place to people-watch during the summer.

Cap d’Antibes

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

Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins’ Beaches

view of Antibes from Plage de la Gravette

Antibes-Juan-les-Pins has no shortage of beaches with its 25-kilometer coastline. There are 48 private and public beaches in all.

Unlike many other beaches along the south of France, many of the beaches in Antibes are sandy, not rocky. While you’ll find it hard to find any solitude here, especially in the peak summer season, it’s worth it to carve out your piece of sand and relax while you soak in the Mediterranean sun. Another alternative is to pay for access to a private beach — often hosted by a restaurant. You can rent a lounge chair and enjoy lunch while you relax.

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.

Make sure to check out our guide to the best beaches for more details.

Marche Provencal: Antibes’ Famous Open Market

Le Marche Procencal in antibes

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. It’s easy to get carried away by the produce here: olives, cheese, tapenade, fresh fruit and veg, plus the wonderful charcuterie brought in by Corsican traders.

Picasso Museum

The picasso museum in antibes

Antibes is home to one of the more evocative Picasso museums . Quite a few towns along the Côte d’Azur lay claim to being a former home of the great man (well, he did get around a bit), but few match the grandeur of Chateau Grimaldi. It’s 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.

The imposing 16th-century chateau fell into the artist’s hands for a mere six months in 1946, but he left behind a decent number of works in what became the first museum dedicated to the artist. It also houses his La Joie De Vivre, which he painted here. The joy captured in the painting is evident when you walk out into the sculpture-strewn garden and take in the sea view he woke up to every day.

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.

Port Vauban: Antibes’ Main Port

port vauban in antibes

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.

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.

Parc Exflora

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.

La Pinède

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.

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.

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.

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