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. ​

Antibes - The pearl of the Mediterranean

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. 

Cap d’Antibes
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. 

Marche Provencal
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 Beaches
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.

Related articles