Stop. Before you get there. In France...

Take a drive from the wonderful Cagnes-sur-Mer to historical Antibes |© Dhinal Chheda / Flickr

Whether you’re on a city break, heading down to the coast or into the great outdoors, renting a car abroad keeps you in control of your holiday and helps you get the most from your experience. Often the journeys are as memorable as the destinations themselves; stopping off to see natural wonders and picturesque towns gives you a greater sense of connection to the country you’re visiting. With Hertz you can have just that: a hassle-free experience with a great range of vehicles to choose from, whether you want to feel the coastal breeze through your hair in a convertible, tackle winding country roads in a four-wheel drive or zoom around in a small, fun city car.

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.

© Kiev.Victor/Shutterstock | © Kiev.Victor/Shutterstock

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.

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.

© Gordon Bell/Shuterstock | © Gordon Bell/Shuterstock

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.

© RossHelen/Shutterstock | © RossHelen/Shutterstock

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