Travels with V
The blue jewel of the Riviera
Antibes part one
In Antibes, the blue jewel of the French Riviera with its narrow streets and old houses, artist and painters have always felt at home. Picasso lived here, as did the great Swedish poet Evert Taube, along with authors like Victor Hugo and Nikos Kazantakis and many others. Antibes has been a cultural magnet since roman times. And now more and more visitors come here to its picturesque quarters and blue waters.
Antibes was founded 300 years b.c. as Antipolis, a Greek trading post. Later the Romans invaded and took over, and built theaters and baths. Traces of that can still be found in the city, like this tombstone on a wall near the city market. It laments a young boy who was a dancer at the theater.
In the 16th century the princely house of Grimaldi built a castle here on a hill by the sea. This is one of the city’s most visited houses because of what it is today, an art museum where many Picasso originals are on display. Paintings, murals and sculptures that he created while he was living here, and that he later donated to this spectacular museum.
We travel to Antibes by air via nearby Nice, there we hop on a bus at the air terminal and we’re in Antibes half an hour later. A smooth no-hassle journey that takes us to a city just turning from high to low season. This means lower prices, and a little more space in the streets, but otherwise not so much, restaurants and bars and museums are open and the air and the sea is still warm. True, the ferris wheel spins empty most of the time, but this might be due to the pandemic, tourism in general is still on a low level.
We’re staying in a very nice hotel, La Villa Port d’Antibes quite near the harbour. It has a spa and a pool (that we never use) and the room has a balcony. From there we can see a little blue streak of the sea. Staff is friendly and helpful and the breakfast is superb. From here most of the city attractions and restaurants can be reached in 5 – 10 minutes by foot.
Top 5 in Antibes:
- Stay: La Villa Port d’Antibes. There’s no shortages of lodges here, but we really liked this one. Good location, clan rooms, nice and helpful staff and a great breakfast. What more can you want?
- Eat: The ones we liked best were the slightly bohemic Le Comptoir de la Tourraque, the elegant Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit and the friendly Chez Mô. Unfortunately we never managed to get a table at L’Orsin.
- To do: The Picasso museum, of course. For trips there’s Nice, Monaco, Marseille, all nearby and easily reachable by train. Our trip to and overnight stay at a wine yard in Provence was a definite hit!
- Beaches: 5 min from the hotel, beyond the harbour is sandy Plage Gravette Further south thhere two smaller beaches and after that the grand Plage de la Salis.
- Bars: Many particularly along the harbour wall and down to the market. A different and fun place is the Absinthe Bar by the market.