The Impressionists took a lot of inspiration from the beautiful scenery surrounding Antibes, and now the most famous paintings have been used to create Picasso’s trail; a walk which incorporates rocky outcrops, the distant mountains and, of course, the deep blue sea. Each location which was the inspiration for a painting is marked by a laminated copy of the painting in question, as well as some information about the artist who created it. This is an excellent way to see the area and to learn about Antibes’ creative past.
The Naval and Napoleonic Museum
Located in view of a battery that Napoleon himself actually had restored, this 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 that once ruled all Europe.
The Picasso Museum in Château Grimaldi
It’s no secret that this area was key to the development of the works of the Impressionists, and this is the museum to visit to discover a bit more about the painters who lived, worked and relaxed here. In fact, Château Grimaldi, the site of the museum, was home to Picasso for six months in 1946. He himself donated a number of paintings to the museum, and the rest were given by his wife after Picasso’s death. Visitors today can see 254 works by Picasso, as well as enjoy the beautiful building and setting on the Cap itself.
The Picasso Museum, Place Mariejol, Antibes, France, +33 4 92 90 54 20
The Safranier Free Commune
This place is really a village within a village. There are 129 free communes in France and Safranier has been counted among them since 1966. They describe themselves as free and with the aim “to do good and have fun”. Visitors to Safranier can expect an area of narrow, cobbled streets, with good restaurants and lively bars. At certain times of the year, various festivals erupt, from from the expected (markets) to the wholly unexpected (spaghetti eating contests!).
The Cap is a headland running between Antibes and the neighboring town of Juan-les-Pins, which has a multitude of sights to offer intrigued visitors to the area. This area is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, taking in the view of the sea, the villas and the gardens. Keep an eye out for the La Garoupe chapel, a shrine dedicated to those lost at sea with plentiful ship models and sea artifacts dotted around. There is also the extensive Jardin Thuret, which has been around since 1857
Also located on the Cap, but deserving of a special mention, Villa Eilenroc is an 11-acre park and villa estate which was originally bought by a rich Dutch gentleman, who came up with the unusual title by reversing his wife’s name, Cornélie. The gardens transport the visitor to a sunny summer paradise, flanked by palm trees and the azure blue sea. In short, this one is worth an afternoon’s visit, particularly if the town is getting hot and busy.
Villa Eilenroc, 460 Avenue Mrs Beaumont, Antibes France, +33 4 93 67 74 33
Located slightly outside of town, Marineland is the closest the Côte D’Azur gets to the likes of Florida, if that sort of thing floats your boat. An excellent day out for a completely different experience, Marineland boasts dolphins, sharks, sea lions and killer whales, as well as being linked to four other theme parks, which can be visited in addition to Marineland for a small surcharge. With a packed program during the summer season, this might just be the right place to entertain kids fed-up with museums and walks!
Marineland, Avenue Mozart, Antibes France, +33 892 42 62 26
A 16th century fort built upon Roman ruins, this place is both a spot to discover an exciting history and to witness a fantastic view across the harbor. Napoleon was for a time imprisoned here during the French Revolution and the fort was also important when Nice was annexed in the latter half of the 19th century. More recently, it was used in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again. Although a bit of a walk from the center of town, it nevertheless makes for an enthralling day-trip.
Once a year, Antibes and Juan-les-Pins team up to present the Jazz à Juan festival, which counts Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder and Ravi Coltrane among its past patrons. The jazz influence comes from the sister town of New Orleans, from which a number of bands playing in the festival originate. Visitors can expect nine days of grooving in total, for which combination tickets are available online.
Juan-les-Pins, France, +33 4 22 10 60 01
It’d be mad to come to Antibes and not spend at least one day sunbathing and dipping in the sea. For a day with family and every amenity under the sun, Plage du Ponteil is the ideal destination: It’s close to town, with showers, toilets, bars and small boats to hire. For something more secluded, try Plage Mala, which is split into a public beach and a restaurant-owned section. This beach was supposedly used by Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his lover when they holidayed in the area.
By Liz English