Antibes: The laid-back city where the jetsetters go to unwind.
Neighbor to Cannes and Nice, Antibes is one of the most sought-after destinations in France and offers all the attractions: endless beaches, crystal blue water, and delectable restaurants, all basked in a festive southern ambiance. The wild setting of the town influenced many world-renowned paintings who perfectly captured Antibes’ unique atmosphere. Even though the French Riviera hotspot attracted its fair share of glitterati throughout the 20th century, it is a relatively laid-back city compared to Nice and Cannes. Apart from its cosmopolitan atmosphere, Antibes has a very rich history. Originally it was known as “Antipolis” meaning “the city on the other side,” the Greeks created Antipolis as a trading post after having founded Marseille. Under the Romans, Antibes was renamed “Antiboul,” dedicated to maritime trade. Some might say that discovering Antibes in two days is impossible, but not us. Here is your 48-hour guide to Antibes.
Morning: Visit Port Vauban and Fort Carré
Start your day by visiting Europe’s first marina and the most popular yachting harbor: Port Vauban. It is the ideal spot to admire the scenic landscapes, and a variety of lavish mega-yachts. The development of this harbor started in the 70s. Originally, it served as an “airport” for seaplanes, acting as a postal and commercial link between different cities. Today, this horseshoe-shaped harbor is one of the most luxurious yachting centers in the world. Continue your morning promenade by visiting Fort Carré. Fort Carré is one of the oldest fortifications, and one of the first to be built in the Renaissance Era. Built during the 16th century by Henri de Mandon, under the rule of Henri II, Fort Carré was used to defend Antibes and Nice. If you wish to have an unobstructed view of Antibes and the coast, climb to the top of the ramparts, which are 43 meters high. For wilderness lovers, discover the four-hectare garden filled with Mediterranean flora and fauna, that lies at the fortress’s feet.
Lunch: Le Potager
6 Sq. du Lys, 06160 Antibes, France
Located near the harbor in the old city, Le Potager is a wonderful eatery. Known for its refined French cuisine, Le Potager is a cozy little restaurant recommended by all. In a simple interior with elaborate decorations, basked in a vintage atmosphere; enjoy vibrant and delicate plates of salmon, risotto, and fresh vegetables. For wine lovers, pair each dish with a special wine from the restaurant’s exhaustive list, or an Armagnac before starting your meal. In elevated French style, expect traditional French cuisine, prepared with the utmost effort and attention to detail.
Afternoon: Admire the Picasso Museum
This museum alone is reason enough to visit Antibes! Dedicated to Pablo Picasso and his life work, the museum is housed inside a medieval fortress, formerly known as the Grimaldi Castle. Admire over 200 works of art by the artist, such as: paintings, ceramics, drawings…etc. Why such an impressive museum in a little town in the South of France? Well, Pablo Picasso lived a long time in Antibes, and installed his atelier on the top floor of the fortress. From there, he donated 23 paintings and 44 drawings to the town. The collection does not include Picasso’s most famous pieces, but each work of art has a historical and sentimental value to Antibes. Even if you are not an art lover, the view from the castle is simply magnificent and definitely worth it. Every detail, such as: carvings and door frames have not been replaced, and are witnesses to this traditional fort’s history.
Drinks and Dinner: Absinthe Bar
25 Cr Masséna
True to its name, Absinthe Bar is the place to go for green fairy infused cocktails. As you progress through a hidden Roman Vault underneath the provincial market, you will arrive in a hidden and vintage world of guitars, posters, absinthe-related decorations, and a fully stocked bar. Make your way through the interior which resembles a 20th century drinking hideaway. Exclusive, controversial, and down-right euphoric, Absinthe Bar offers an impressive and unearthly drinking experience. As you may know, absinthe is banned in several countries, but that does not apply here. The bartender serves it as it’s always meant to be served: a glass of absinthe accompanied by a sugar cube on a silver spoon. Mix the two, and bon voyage! For the most courageous, ask the bartender to light the sugar cube on fire – after having dipped it in absinthe! Good luck!
16 Rue de la République, 06600 Antibes
Located in the heart of Antibes, L’Oursin is the idyllic address for seafood lovers! Enjoy freshly prepared platers or the restaurant’s specialties: homemade rockfish soup, hand-smoked salmon. Since 1962, L’Oursin has been a true institution for the Antibois, for its cuisine and distinctive décor. As soon as you step into the establishment, authentic maritime decorations greet you, which makes you question whether you are on a vessel. Prices may be a bit expensive, however, once you see the generously garnished plates it will be worth it! Adored by locals and tourists alike, L’Oursin is a great seafood experience you must try in Antibes.
Sleep: La Jabotte
13 Av. Max Maurey
Are you familiar with the phrase “To live happy, live hidden?” This charming two-star hotel lives by that saying. While it may be off the beaten path, La Jabotte is a cozy hotel which resembles an English cottage. As you wander around the hotel, a narrow and green alley leads straight to the enchanting garden. Beautiful and detailed-oriented decorations greet you, like a garden lounge, tiny wooden doors, and many more. You are directly immersed in a magical landscape, and you can’t help but feel like Alice in Wonderland. The nine rooms are spacious, comfortable, and rocked in a vintage-style, perfectly personifying La Jabotte’s ambiance. The vibrant and colorful floral patterns on the wall, give the guests an oasis of calm and peace. Freely visit the surroundings, with the hotel’s services: kayaks, bikes, beach equipment, and tuk-tuk trips. Timeless and relaxing, La Jabotte is the ideal retreat to disconnect from everything.
Morning: Stroll around the provincial market
Early in the morning, head to Cours Massena where Antibe’s provencial market is set up each morning. Strolling around, a symphony of fragrances, spices, and floral scents surrounds you. Wander around the rich and numerous stalls to discover what it has to offer, including: a large variety of cheese, local fruits, fresh vegetables, flowers and spices. Sit down in one of the many cafés and admire as the vibrant market comes to life. It is also the perfect opportunity to interact with the locals. Originally, farmers and locals would come to the market to sell their products and exchange goods. Since its creation during the 12th century, Antibes’ market has not changed. For vintage lovers, a second-hand market is also set up. Shoes, bags, clothes, and numerous other items are yours for the picking. If you love rummaging through piles of clothes to find THE hidden treasure, then this market is for you!
Lunch: Les Vieux Murs
25, Promenade Amiral de Grasse
Les Vieux Murs is a tucked-away restaurant located on the ramparts of Old Antibes. The magic of this restaurant starts off by witnessing a breathtaking sunset over the waters of Antibes as the sky gradually becomes light pink. Dine in a rustic setting, enjoying the natural backdrop of Antibes. Sit down to traditional provincial dishes infused with Mediterranean flavors, like gnocchis with butternut squash, roasted veal, and poached loup marinated in a succulent mushroom sauce. The chef has perfectly well-chosen its staff, as they are friendly, and treat guests with the utmost respect. For die-hard romantics and wine enthusiasts alike, Les Vieux Murs is the perfect spot if you wish to dine privately while facing the sea.
Afternoon: Marvel at the Saint-Bernardin Chapel
14 Rue du Dr Rostan, 06600 Antibes
The Saint-Bernardin Chapel can only be described as a true jewel in the south of France. As you make your way through the narrow alleys of Old Antibes, the chapel’s impressive neo-Gothic style door welcomes you. Don’t be distraught by the absence of details on the outside, the magic happens inside. Open the door, and progress through the chapel. When your eyes meet the ceiling, you will be left speechless as a concert of vibrant and various colors stand before you: Savoy blue, Carmine red, Royal yellow, and many more. Four twisted wooden columns – traditional of Baroque-style – adorn the altar, as well as 16th century frescoes representing religious scenes. Built in 1513, the small church was constructed over the ruins of a Roman temple, and was recently restored to its full glory. Enriched with statues, frescoes, Latin inscriptions, and a reproduction of the famous painting “The Descent of the Cross,” the Saint Bernardin Chapel is definitely worth the visit.
Drinks: Le Happy Face
13 Rue Aubernon
Searching for a bar at the heart of Old Antibes combining live music and great cocktails? Le Happy Face mixes all of the above! Trendy, popular, and chill; this bar is the ideal joint to connect with locals and experience the real Antibes. For dance lovers, a DJ is present every Thursday and Saturday playing live music. Either for a laid-back drink between friends or a rocking night out, Le Happy Face is the place to be for everyone. Sit down with fun cocktails, beers or wine, freshly prepared on the spot, including Le Happy Face’s spicy and beloved chili shots. As you progress through the bar, the interior’s retro atmosphere dives into a 70s theme cocktail bar with neon lights, a low vaulted ceiling, a vintage Volkswagen, and numerous mural decorations. Lively, upbeat, and sometimes chaotic; Le Happy Face is the locally recommended place to go to have a great time.
Dinner: Le P’tit Cageot
5 Rue du Dr Rostan
True to its name, Le P’tit Cageot is a hidden treasure in Antibes, mostly known by locals. Indulge in high-end French cuisine imbued in a southwestern essence. Chef Arnaud Lacombe prepares modern and fresh dishes, in which he adds a personal twist. Rustic and recently restored, the interior plunges into a unique ambiance where you feel right at home. The exposed beams and stone walls create a cozy atmosphere, perfect for winter. Authenticity is key! On a hot summer day, the terrace is the picture-perfect spot to enjoy a late dinner. Nestled in a calm and charming street, Le P’tit Cageot is a great place for an intimate dinner with an unbeatable view on the Saint-Bernardin Chapel.
Sleep: Hotel La Place
1 Avenue du 24 Août
Located within walking distance from the Picasso Museum, the restaurants, and the boutiques; Hotel La Place is the charming lodge around the corner. Established in a typical southern France architecture, the hotel boasts 14 rooms that are fully equipped and offer great views on the busy streets of Antibes. The terraces provide ideal nooks for morning coffee while admiring the town waking up. In the evenings, the jazz bar greets its clients in a casual and intimate atmosphere. Sit down to live music while enjoying some cocktails and perfectly paired appetizers, including: foie gras, smoked salmon, a variety of cheese…etc. If you wish to reside in the heart of this vibrant city, Hotel La Place is for you!
Eve spent one weekend in Antibes.