The drive from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Antibes is simply stunning. It’s not just a great opportunity to take in some of the best coastline in France—it also offers some fantastic cultural delights. You can visit the Renoir Museum, where the painter spent his remaining years, or wander the streets of the Old Town in Antibes, which Picasso took as inspiration during his six-month stay, and where you can see many of his paintings.
Here’s our guide to some of the best stops to enjoy en route.
The Renoir Museum
The French Riviera has long attracted painters because of the special quality of the light, as well as the climate and wonderful scenery—Cézanne, Picasso, and Matisse all lived nearby. The painter Renoir spent the last 12 years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Before arriving at Antibes, this museum is the perfect place to stop and see where Renoir worked and how he lived. There are 14 original canvases and numerous sculptures on display, plus lots of his original documents and archives. The villa is simply stunning, with beautiful gardens full of olive trees and citrus groves. It has stunning panoramic views over the Cap d’Antibes.
Opening hours: Daily, except Tuesdays and specific bank holidays (Dec 25, Jan 1, and May 1). From June to September, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (gardens 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). From October to March, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. From April to May, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Musée Renoir, 19 Chemin des Collettes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, +33 (0)4 93 20 61 07
Lunch at Art Beach
Art Beach is a stunning little beach club on the shore in Cagnes-sur-Mer. It’s a perfect opportunity to stop and have a spot of lunch in a beautiful place and to see a little art before reaching Antibes. Under the careful watch of chef Alain Zapparoli, you can taste some great organic food, made with local ingredients. If you’re really hungry you can eat a full meal like fresh tagliatelle or fillet of beef, but it’s also great for light lunches, like crab salad. They have a kids menu and a special to try every day. If you want to be even more decadent, you can hire a sun lounger on their private beach and order a bottle of local wine and something light such as a bagel from their snack menu.
What’s more, they display local contemporary art, like photographs by Philippe Schlienger and sculptures by Schumacher and Korean artist Youn. With their water-based activities (they have scuba masks to rent), the art, and food for every taste, there really is something for everyone. People love the service too. Check out Facebook for up-to-date exhibition details.
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Art Beach, 55 Prom. de la Plage, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, +33 (0)4 93 26 67 93
Port de l’Olivette
The Port de l’Olivette is a small little harbor for boats that can be found on the Cap d’Antibes (literally, the Cape of Antibes, the headland). Modern Antibes is associated with large villas and luxury lifestyles, but before the headland became home to many glamorous residents, it was a traditional fishing community. By the early 19th century, it had been linked by rail to Nice and was exporting dried fruit, salt fish, and oil. Today, the Port de l’Olivette is where traditional fishing practices still take place and where you can find sailors on their wooden fishing boats. A lovely place to stop and soak up the culture of days gone-by.
Port de l’Olivette, 471 Boulevard Maréchal Juin, Antibes, France, +33 (0)4 93 65 47 94
Antibes’ Old Town
The Old Town of Antibes is a wonderful place to wander the streets. It’s the area around the Château Grimaldi, the family who arrived in the 14th century and built a castle on the foundations of the ancient Greek town, Antipolis. The castle became the Town Hall in 1702 and was home to Picasso in the 1940s, when he was invited to stay and paint there for six months. It’s now the Picasso Museum—he bequeathed 23 pictures and 44 drawings to the town on his departure. The surrounding streets are full of old shops, restaurants, and bars.
The surrounding streets are full of old shops, restaurants, and bars. At the right time of the year, you’re likely to find antique stalls, art fairs, yacht shows, and farmers markets taking over the streets. Old Town is definitely a must-see for any visitor to the region and a great place to finish your journey.
Picasso Museum’s opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Château Grimaldi, Place Mariejol, Antibes, France, +33 (0)4 92 90 54 20
This summer, wherever you’re going #goviahertz. Visit: hertz.co.uk/culture-trip.