While Nice and Cannes are the more famous faces of the Côte d’Azur, connoisseurs of the French Riviera flock to quieter Antibes. There are countless treasures to uncover in this city along with a wealth of natural beauty and heritage.
And don’t forget it is also home to the chic resort of Juan-les-Pins. In short, Antibes has everything you could want and more! If you are visiting for the first time, read on to discover seven wonders of Antibes that you just can’t miss.
Sandy beaches that were made for holidays
If you are travelling as a family, we recommend trying out the huge Plage de la Salis beach, or the little Plage du Port beach, which is rounded and very sheltered, close to Old Antibes. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere with cocktails and glamour, Juan-les-Pins boasts a pretty coastline that is just the spot of fun with friends.
If it’s beauty you are after in the form of dreamy views of the far-off Estérel mountains and magical sunsets over the sea, we recommend laying out your beach towel on the west coast of the Cap d’Antibes peninsula (nice and early in the morning if you can, because this is a coveted spot!).
And let’s not forget the legendary Plage de la Garoupe beach in the middle of the Cap d’Antibes peninsula that ticks every box: it’s well oriented yet sheltered with impressive views of the Alps. It’s a beach loved by connoisseurs.
The narrow streets of Old Antibes
The Old Town, surrounded by its majestic stone ramparts, is a little universe made up of narrow roads that are cool even in summer, fascinating shops to wander around, and great bars and restaurants just a stone’s throw from the yachting harbour.
- The Marché Provençal is a must-see, as much for its Belle Epoque architecture as for the varied stalls run by local producers selling mouth-watering wares. It’s a celebration of southern French flavours, featuring Mediterranean fruit and vegetables, local cheeses, olive oil and preserves. Spend some time walking around its tangle of streets, all of which have their own unique character.
- Make sure to visit Le Safranier, an area of the city that has been referred to as “the free commune” by its residents since 1966. It’s actually a peaceful haven protected from the flood of tourism by its residents.
The cathedral and the Picasso Museum
These two magnificent edifices rich in history are neighbours both worthy of a lengthy visit. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception dates from the 12th century and was later repaired with the addition of a beautiful decorative Baroque facade with Ligurian influences.
- Here you can see The Virgin of the Rosary, a notable altarpiece by the painter Ludovic Bréa that dates from around 1513. The cathedral is nestled within the ramparts next to Grimaldi Castle, the home of the Picasso Museum.
- The museum, which towers over Antibes’ ramparts, plays host to many of the master’s works including large paintings such as La Joie de Vivre, statues such as La Chèvre and a large collection of ceramics dating from his long stay in the region, in particular in Antibes and Vallauris. The castle’s terrace offers a spectacular view over the sparkling bay of Juan-les-Pins.
The Cap d’Antibes peninsula
It’s not by chance that this heavenly peninsula is now populated by the elite, and more than a few billionaires. It is truly magnificent. The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, a sleek white hotel constructed in the Second Empire style, stands within large grounds full of umbrella pines.
The world’s biggest stars flock here to snatch a moment’s rest during the Cannes Film Festival, attracted by its tranquillity and beauty. Don’t worry if you aren’t a star or a billionaire though, you can still wander around the Cap d’Antibes and feel just as privileged thanks to its light, abundant flora and exceptional climate.
End your stroll with a drink at the legendary Hotel Belles Rives bar at the gateway to the Cap. This Art Deco hotel was the favourite haunt of the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, and it was from here that they launched the craze for French Riviera style.
Juan-les-Pins and its pine forest
What comes to mind when you think about Juan-les-Pins? Parties, night clubs or the jazz festival? Probably all three! This part of Antibes, famous for the individuals who have frequented it, became popular in the 1920s under the patronage of famous artists such as Ernest Hemingway.
With its beautiful seaside promenade and an equally splendid beach, Juan-les-Pins is also a shopper’s paradise thanks to a plethora of small fashion boutiques lusted over by holidaymakers. It is a dream clubbing destination with its many clubs (such as Pam Pam, You Club and Le Village) and its casino sparkling with a thousand lights.
Aside from its party-loving reputation, Juan-les-Pins also hosts a famous jazz festival each summer where jazz lovers can indulge in their passion for the music in the magical setting of the pine forest overlooking the sea.
The best places to eat in Antibes
Antibes has so many top-notch restaurants that it’s hard to whittle it down. If you’re looking for cosy chic, the terrace at Hotel Juana boasts a refined menu in a location that is just as sophisticated.
- For something different, try Le P’tit Cageot, a small restaurant close to the market on the Cours Masséna offering fresh dishes prepared with local ingredients that is excellent value for money.
- Le Safranier is a simple, unfussy restaurant with daily specials and a relaxed atmosphere. Last but not least, don’t miss the rooftop at L’Ostrâl. It’s a feast for the eyes and the food is delicious too.
- To top it off, we have to mention two of Antibes’ great fine-dining restaurants: Les Vieux Murs at the foot of the ramparts, and, above all, Le Figuier Saint Esprit which straddles them. The latter is an inventive restaurant that has been awarded a Michelin star for its culinary creativity.
Must-see sights in Antibes
Want to take in some truly exceptional sites during your stay in Antibes? There are a few landmarks that are really worth a visit. The mighty Fort Carré towers over the city and its port featuring a spectacular chemin de ronde, which is 43 metres high at its tallest point. Fort Carré isn’t as square as the French name suggests though. Its star-shaped structure dates from the Renaissance giving it an imposing appearance, and its four hectares of grounds hold a wealth of local plant life.
If you find yourself in the Cap d’Antibes, make the most of it by climbing the steps of the Garoupe Lighthouse, which has only recently opened to the public. Once you have climbed the 30 metres to the top, enjoy the beautiful 360° views of the peninsula all the way to the very edges of the Riviera. If you have some more time in the Cap, explore the wonderful Villa Eilenroc, which was built by the architect Charles Garnier in a neoclassical style that is perfectly complemented by 11 hectares of grounds. The villa isn’t always open to the public, so check before you visit.
If like me you think that the Côte d’Azur is a feast for the eyes and a shining light for everyone, Antibes is the living proof. It has extraordinary heritage, a beautiful peninsula, crystal-clear waters for swimming and Juan-les-Pins for when you want to let your hair down.
What more could you want?
To enjoy the best of everything Antibes has to offer, choose the leading holiday rental specialist for your holiday let: Riviera Holiday Homes
Learn how to rent your property on the Côte d’Azur with Riviera Holiday Homes: Renting your property with Riviera Holiday Homes – return on investment and security all rolled into one!