Hand Picked Top Things to do in Antibes

A Mediterranean resort that also includes Juan-les-Pins, Antibes has 25 kilometres of coastline and is a getaway for the very rich but also one of the French Riviera’s preferred destinations  for French families.

You can mix afternoons at the beach with day-trips to Nice and Cannes, which are both minutes from the resort on the TER train.

There’s much to occupy you closer by, with a coastline made for walking, and a waterfront fortified by Vauban in the 1600s, now the preserve of the world’s richest people, who moor their gargantuan superyachts in the port at eye-watering expense.

Here’s our hand picked list of the top things to do when you visit.

 

 

Beaches 

When you add it up you realise that Antibes covers a very large area, made up of the old town, the entirety of the peninsula and of course the summery resort of Juan-les-Pins.

There are almost 50 private and public beaches close by, and that doesn’t include the informal coves along the Sentier de Tire-Poil where you can bathe on the rocks and slip into the water to cool off.

To select just one: Plage de la Salis is a free, white sandy bay next to the yacht club with smooth, glistening sea on clear days.

 

 

Walk on the Sentier du Littoral on the Cap d’Antibes 

Here’s another way to retreat from the commotion of Cannes for blissful privacy, in a wonderful natural setting.

The coastal walk on the lower reaches of Cap d’Antibes hugs the steep and rocky shoreline.

It’s called the Sentier du Littoral. In places the walk is so open to the elements that the path is occasionally closed off when the winds are up, but towards the east side of the cape things are calmer, and you’ll find spots where you can sunbathe on the rocks and take a dip in gleaming waters.

So in the summer two things are essential: Good walking shoes, and swimwear, because the sea will be very enticing on a hot day.

 

 

Picasso Museum 

Even before you consider what lies inside, this historic building is a treasured slice of Antibes’ heritage.

It was built on top of the original Greek Acropolis, and the first few metres of the walls are Roman.

A branch of the Genoese Grimaldi Family (for whom it’s named) held it until the 1600s when the French crown took over.

Fast forward to 1946 and Picasso was invited by the city to use the newly restored castle as a studio, and he obliged, completing several works here that summer.

In 1966 the museum was inaugurated and it now has 245 of his paintings, ceramics and drawings.

There are also sculptures by Joan Miró and Germaine Richier, and paintings by Nicolas de Staël.

 

Musée Peynet

The 20th-century cartoonist Raymond Peynet settled in Antibes in 1976. He soon made many friends and threw himself into local life, holding exhibitions and designing posters for events here.

In the 80s he helped set up this museum, which now displays 4,000 illustrations charting his 50-year career.

There are exhibits of the jewellery and porcelain he created, as well as full-sized figures of his famous “Les Amoureux” characters designed for the window display in the Galeries Lafayette in Paris in the 50s.

They were the inspiration for an extremely popular and iconic series of dolls, selling in the millions since they were first released more than 60 years ago.

 

Archeological Museum

The Bastion Saint-André, designed by Vauban and built in the late-17th century is the fitting home for Antibes’ collections of historical artefacts.

The exhibition space is small as the bastion is little more than a solitary coastal tower, and the museum is unassuming.

But it will drive home the rich and long history of the area.

The waters off the cape are notoriously treacherous and claimed Roman, Etruscan, Greek and Phoenician ships, and their contents are on show at the museum.

There are amphorae and other pottery, coins, mosaics and an enlightening assortment of everyday objects.

You can also go up to the battlements for views down the eastern side of the cape and up to the hills behind Cagnes-sur-Mer.

 

Jazz Festival

For the last 66 years a pine grove next to the water in Juan-les-Pins has welcomed some of the world’s top musicians for nine nights of concerts.

A quick breeze through just some of the names to have performed at Jazz à Juan tells you all you need to know about its standing in the music world: John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong have all performed on this stage.

The curators take pains to ensure the festival looks to the future, and has given more recent artists like Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Miller and Joshua Redman a platform.

There’s also a “jazz-off”, in which ensembles compete against each other for a prize each year.

 

Sainte-Marguerite Island

Ferries shuttle back and forth to Sainte-Marguerite from Juan-les-Pins throughout the day.

You could stop at the market or local shops in Antibes or Juan-les-Pins for provisions, before setting sail.

Once there, unwind on the quiet forest trails and have a picnic lunch below the fragrant stone pines and eucalyptus trees.

At the top of a cliff on the north shore is Fort Royal, where the mystery Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned at the behest of Louis XIV in the 17th century.

The prison has been replaced by a museum, but the cells are still intact and you can also survey the artefacts recovered from two local shipwrecks, one Roman and the other Moorish from the 900s.

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