A vibrant and cultural Mediterranean seaside town with both a rich history and an active yachting community, Antibes has a lot to offer. With a range of festivities throughout the winter and summer seasons, this town is a bustling mixture of quaint cobbled old town and beach resort.
It’s on the beautiful Bay of Angels, and is an inviting place to wander around. Take your time to stroll along its narrow, winding cobblestone streets filled with charming bistros and little boutiques.
Start your stroll by the harbour, divided into the Old Port and the New Port Vauban, where the yachts of the rich and famous bob between the jetties. This is where Guy de Maupassant moored his boat in 1866 and allowed himself to be inspired by this unique part of Antibes. From here, streets take the most curious turns through an old arch towards the covered market. But first, turn left to walk along the ramparts on the Promenade Amiral de Grasse, where you can catch some magnificent views of the sea.
The town’s skyline is dominated by the picturesque Chateau Grimaldi. Originally the stronghold of the Grimaldi family, the chateau also served as the town hall of Antibes from 1702 until 1925. Today, it houses the Musée Picasso, a delightful museum with a small, but very important collection of paintings – well worth a visit.
Beside the museum, you’ll find the medieval Cathedrale Notre Dame de l’Immaculee Conception, Antibes’ largest church which has a pleasing rose-colored façade that’s typical of Provencal Baroque architecture. The doors are a delight, sculpted by Jacques Dolle during 18th century and artwork inside includes pieces such as Louis Brea’s Vierge du Rosaire painting depicting Mary holding the Christ.
South of the cathedral, along the town’s ramparts, you will chance upon Place du Safranier, the heart of the independent commune of Safranier which was created in 1966. The square is popular for two reasons: as the place where Nikos Kazantzakis wrote the famous Zorba the Greek, and the fantastic bistro, La Taverne du Safranier. Various festivals and fetes take place here all year round.
If you’ve time, pop into Antibes’ Museum of Archaeology which covers 4,000 years of history relating to Antibes and the surrounding area. The museum’s excellent collection of archeological findings features pieces dating back to Antibes‘ origins as an ancient Greek settlement and then a city of the Roman Empire.
Of equal interest, and located in view of a battery that Napoleon himself actually had restored, the Naval and Napoleonic museum has a fine display of all things Napoleonic – including a rather vast, if obscure, display of his hats. There are also many different artifacts related to the Napoleon family which help piece together the interesting and adventure-filled life of the French emperor.
Close to the museum, you can wander through to the Bastion Shipyard from where the Calypso, Captain Cousteau’s famous ship, set out. The shipyard closed in 1985, and today the site features the impressive Nomade sculpture, depicting a man staring out at the sea, evoking a sense of adventure and mystery. After that stroll you deserve refreshment in one of the many bars or bistros in the town.