Antibes - The pearl of the Mediterranean
While many travelers flock to the larger towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco on France’s Côte d’Azur, the smaller resort town of Antibes should be given just as much weight as the others. This glistening Mediterranean resort town sits just a 30-minute drive west of Cannes (or a short boat ride along the coast) and is known for its bustling nightlife, vibrant restaurant scene, and its historic Old Town protected by 16th-century ramparts. If you want the glitz and glam of the French Riviera, with the rustic charm of a medieval French town, look no further than Antibes.
The list of things to do in Antibes is endless and when you’re not enjoying sea views from the historic Fort Carre or admiring Picasso’s life work at the Musee Picasso, you’ll likely be sun-soaking on Plage de la Garoupe or shopping for lunch at the old-world Marche Provencal. There’s also plenty of cultural events that take place in the resort town and upcoming events include the Jazz a Juan festival in July, the Musical Fireworks Festival in August, and the Festival d’Art Sacre in September. As for Antibes hotels, these range from luxury 5-star resorts and boutique hotels to chic beachfront apartments and historic villas to suit all budgets.
The Cap d’Antibes peninsula is known for its hot and dry climate, flourishing vegetation, and exclusive villas that line the coast and dazzle in the midday sun. One of the best ways to enjoy the coastline here is to walk along the Cap d’Antibes trail, stopping at small inlets for refreshments. The 4.8km route is suitable for novice walkers and professionals alike as it gently winds its way along the coastline offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. The out-and-back walk starts and ends at Plage de la Garoupe so make sure you bring your swimwear for a refreshing dip once you’ve finished! There are also a number of inland walks to enjoy too, including the Antibes to Juan-Les-Pins walk which is a 30-minute stroll along the Boulevard du President Wilson.
Picasso Museum in Château Grimaldi
One of Antibe's most talked-about attractions is the Picasso Museum which sits in the former Chateau Grimaldi building and is built on the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis. In 1946 Picasso spent a year in Antibes and used the chateau as his workshop, where he painted over 60 pieces of art. When he left he donated 44 drawings and 23 paintings to the city. Today this collection of art is on display for all to see and visitors can brush up on the history of Picasso and admire his artwork at the permanent exhibition inside.
If the Picasso Museum catches your eye, consider visiting the nearby Picasso War and Peace Museum too. Located in Vallauris, just a 20-minute drive west of Antibes, the museum displays two monumental works by Picasso.
The Fort Carré
Just like the Picasso Museum, the Fort Carre fortress has attracted visitors to Antibes’ shores for years. This spectacular 16th-century fortress was constructed for King Henry II of France and sits on the edge of the Saint-Roch peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The fort's most notable feature is its star-shaped design which was commissioned by Henri de Mandon and then redesigned in the 17th century by Marquis de Vauban. While many famous historians have walked the halls of the fort, one notable former resident is Napoleon Bonaparte who was briefly imprisoned here during the French Revolution. Today visitors can enjoy a guided or self-guided tour of the castle and its ground to learn more of its role as a defensive fortification.
When exploring Antibes on foot you’ll likely pass Marche Provencal (the resort town's local market) several times and it’s well worth stopping and browsing the stalls. This ancient market is where vendors flog their local produce including fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and flowers. Whether you’re after a picnic lunch, or you’re sourcing ingredients to try your hand at a traditional Provencal meal, the market is your best bet for a taste of local produce.
Antibes sprawls its way along the coastline of the Cote d’Azur and occupies some impressive soft sand beaches. There are around 50 private and public beaches in the area that are well worth a visit with the most popular being Plage de Garoupe and Plage de la Salis.
Alternatively, Plage de la Gravette is one of the easiest beaches to access from Antibes Old Town as it’s just a short walk away. This particular beach is wide, sandy, and open to the public for free. For views of the Old Town while you sunbathe, head to Plage de la Salis. This laid-back public beach has soft white sands and doesn’t tend to get as busy as the neighboring Plage Ponteil in the summer. If you’re happy with a pebbled beach, and you’d like to find a quiet hideout, consider traveling a little further down the coast to Plage du Fort Carre or Plage de la Fontanne. Both beaches are slightly wider and offer a secluded area for sunbathing.
Antibes, the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’, has a lot to offer for all traveler types and manages to perfectly blend the glitz and the glamour of the French Riviera with the rustic charm of a historic fortification town. From soft sand beaches and coastal walks to bustling markets and waterfront seafood restaurants, the list of things to enjoy in Antibes is endless and you’d need more than a week here to even scratch the surface.
From Nice Cote d’Azur Airport, Antibes is just a 30-minute drive or a short boat ride away and FranceRent can take care of all your luxury transfers needs in advance of your trip. If you want to touch down in Antibes in style, consider chartering a yacht and enjoying the coastline, or take a helicopter and land in Juan-Les-Pins.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.