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Things To Do In Antibes
Antibes is a culturally vibrant Mediterranean town located in south-eastern France; it is the second-largest town in the French Riviera and also boasts the largest marina in the region – Port Vauban. The origins of the town date back to the 4th-century when it was mostly just a trading port. It later gained immense popularity among the wealthy Europeans for its scenic beaches and exquisite natural beauty, which continues to attract tourists from around the world today.
Antibes offers the perfect combination of old town charm with Mediterranean seaside expanses that serve as a great relief from the crowded chaos of neighbouring cities like Nice and Cannes. Host to parks, museums, and numerous boutiques and markets, there is much to explore in Antibes that will keep you occupied for the good part of a day or two, which is more than enough time to explore all the secrets of the town. Read on to know more about our recommendations with the top things to do in Antibes.
Explore the Old Town
The old town of Antibes allows visitors to explore the narrow cobblestone streets and pathways that lead to ancient buildings and some of the best eateries in the region. Travellers can stroll by the harbour and onto the markets where vendors set up stalls each day to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and other artisanal items. There are also free guided walking tours available on select days of the week, where visitors can explore the local architecture, take photographs of the exquisite surroundings and enjoy a meal in one of the charming little cafes.
Relax on the Beaches
Antibes is made up of a large area that includes almost 50 beaches, both private and public. Plage de la Salis is one of the free beaches where visitors can enjoy sunbathing and dips in the sea. Plage du Ponteil is ideal for visits with family; there are amenities here that include showers and washrooms, along with eateries and even boats that can be hired. For a more secluded beach, head to Plage Mala, which is split into a public beach section and another restaurant-owned section.
Walk through Chemin des Douaniers
The 5 km walk through Chemin des Douaniers goes around the coast of Antibes and offers visitors to the area the views of some breath-taking scenery. Beginning from the old town, the walk is part of a route that winds through landscaped gardens, a small cove and around the rocky headland to the tip of Cap d’Antibes. Travellers to the region don’t need to be the most active of athletes to enjoy this stroll. It’s a relatively simple pathway and people of all levels of fitness can enjoy the walk. The moments around sunset is the best time to enjoy this place when the surroundings come alive in the colours of dusk.
Visit Musée Picasso
Architecturally and culturally, the Picasso Museum is an important part of Antibes’ heritage. The castle dates back to the Greek and Roman times and belonged to the Genoese Grimaldi family till the 1600s before being taken over by the French crown. In the year 1946, Picasso visited Antibes and stayed in the castle for six months, using it as a temporary studio and creating some brilliant pieces of art here. While he donated some artworks to the castle himself, more were donated by his wife after his death.
The castle opened up as a museum in 1966 and now contains 245 drawings, paintings and ceramics created by Picasso. The museum also houses artworks by various other contemporary artists from the 20th and 21st-century. While the castle itself is a great place to spend some time in, the building faces the sea and offers some breath-taking views on the outside with plenty of camera-worthy moments.
Tour of Fort Carré
Fort Carré is a 16th-century fortress surrounded by an exquisite waterfront and scenic natural beauty. It offers brilliant 360⁰ panoramic views and can be explored through guided tours available for a nominal fee. The fort is situated on the peninsula of Saint-Roch around 26 metres above sea level and was built on Roman ruins in the middle of 16th-century. The fort was enlarged by Vauban in the 17th-century, who also made some tweaks to the building by replacing the stones with brickwork. It also played an important role in the 19th-century as a sentry post and defensive site for the town against Nice, which was under Italian rule at the time. The fortress was bought by Antibes in 1997 and was opened to visitors in the year 1998.
Experience the Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival, or Jazz á Juan, has been celebrated in a pine grove in Juan-les-Pins for the past 66 years and welcomes some of the world’s top musicians each year for a concert that goes on for nine days and nights. The festival takes place in the month of July, and the first such event was organized as a tribute to the jazz musician Sidney Bechet, who admired Antibes a great deal. A great deal of diversity in terms of cultures can be seen here, with musicians of American, Latin, Cuban and African origin all becoming a part of the festival. Big names like Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong and several others have been a part of this festival over the years.
Catch a Ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite
Among the many attractions of Antibes, one of the most popular activities to indulge in is the exploration of islands located nearby. One such island is the Íle Sainte-Marguerite, which can be visited via ferries that shuttle back and forth between the island and Juan-les-Pins – a small town near Antibes. Travellers can even choose to make a stop at one of the markets or local shops in either Antibes or Juan-les-Pins before sailing to Sainte-Marguerite. The island itself offers tranquil forest trails that are great for trekking and peaceful spots to enjoy a picnic lunch in.
There is also a fort here on the top of a cliff that was once a prison and held the infamous Man in the Iron Mask in the 17th-century. The prison has now been replaced by a museum but the prison cells still remain intact.
Visit Cap d’Antibes and Juan-les-Pins
The narrow piece of coastal land running between Antibes and the neighbouring town of Juan-les-Pins is known as Cap d’Antibes. The region is a picturesque haven for those seeking a quiet afternoon or a few days by the sea, which can be spent in one of the many seaside hotels and beach resorts present in both Cap d’Antibes and Juan-les-Pins. The beach scene, the wonderful sights around the area and the views of gardens, villas and the spectacular seascape offer immense respite from the chaos of a typical urban settlement. The Thuret Garden and the La Garoupe Chapel are other attractions of the area that are located nearby and are definitely worth checking out.