Guide to Antibes: the town that inspired some of the world’s greatest artists

Famous artists, multi-million-dollar mega yachts, jazz festivals and a charming 16th-century Old Town… you’ll find it all this Antibes guide. While this little seaside town is often overlooked in favour of its neighbours Nice and Cannes, Antibes certainly holds its own as the second-largest town on the Côte d’Azur. It even has the largest marina in the Mediterranean!

It’s also a honeypot for renowned artists, drawing the likes of Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich over the years. From stunning coastal walks to ancient forts, read our Antibes travel guide for all the best things to do in the gorgeous town of Antibes.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Oct 25, 2019 at 7:22am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Things to do in Antibes

Follow in the footsteps of famous artists

There’s something about Antibes… This seaside town has been an inspiration to artists right back to Monet’s 1888 painting of the Cap d’Antibes. So many renowned artists fell in love with this Mediterranean town and today you can go to the same spots where the likes of Monet and Picasso set up their easels and captured their beautiful scenes. 

Pick up a map and Antibes guide at the Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourist Office, then head to the trail, stopping at all the stands showing their works of art. You’ll see the marketplace before it was covered with a cast-iron structure, painted by Emile-Charles Dameron, and see the view of “The Rocks of l’Ilette and the Fortifications” painted by Eugène Boudin. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:30am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

There’s a lovely picture of Salis beach done by Ernest Meissonier, and a Claude Monet picture of Antibes with the snow-capped Alps rising in the background. You’ll even spot a familiar Picasso piece. With soaring mountains, deep blue sea, and rocky outcrops along the trail, this is the most stunning way to learn about Antibes’ artistic past.

GET INSPIRED BY: Riviera Explorer

Visit the Musée Picasso in Château Grimaldi

Pablo Picasso adored Antibes, and in 1946, he transformed the 14th-century Château Grimaldi into his personal art studio. Today, the château serves as the first art museum dedicated to Picasso.

It’s home to 245 paintings and sculptures, many reflecting the light and life of this little seaside town. Picasso himself donated a large number of artworks to the museum, and his wife Jacqueline Picasso donated the rest after Picasso’s death. 

View this post on Instagram

Les lettres majuscules en acier blanc de Jaume Plensa se lient délicatement au-dessus du Port Vauban, donnant vie au Nomade, le veilleur d’Antibes Juan-Les-Pins ———————– Jaume Plensa's white steel capital letters are delicately linked above the Port Vauban, giving life to the Nomade, the watchman of Antibes Juan-Les-Pins ———————– 📷: @antibestourisme // @visitcotedazurfrance ———————–#jaimeAntibes#Antibes#antibesjuanlespins#CapAntibes#juanlespins#France#CotedAzurFrance#FrenchMerveilles#Cotedazur#FrenchRiviera#Riviera#AlpesMaritimes#Instagram#instagood#instadaily#instalike#landscape#travel#escape#picoftheday#tourismepaca#mediterraneansea#travel#travelphotography#MondayMotivation#sun#sea

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on

You’ll also enjoy a collection of work by contemporary artists like Joan Miro, Fernand Léger and Nicolas de Staël. Head out to Bastion Saint-Jaume and you’ll see one of the museum’s previous treasures – Le Nomade by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa.

This giant figure is made up of different letters and sits looking out to see. On a sunny day, you’ll see the striking contrast of the white letters against the blue sky, and at night it’s illuminated from inside. 

Wander through the Old Town of Antibes

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 27, 2020 at 3:34am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Narrow cobbled streets, honey-hued façades, brightly painted shutters, old stone ramparts… the historic Old Town of Antibes looks like it’s barely changed in centuries.

It was the site of the first trading post established by the Greeks in the 5th century, and you’ll still find historic treasures around every turn. See the wooden sculptured façade of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea d’Antibes or stop by Chapelle St Bernardin, a gorgeous Gothic church from the 16th century. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Sep 5, 2019 at 7:52am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Stroll through the pavement cafés and shops selling all kinds of local wares like artworks, glassware, white cotton clothes and herbs. You could even visit the Musée d’Archéologie, displaying 4,000 years of history discovered in and around Antibes. 

Wander along the ramparts on the Promenade-Amiral-de Grasse for gorgeous sea views, and see the historic bed and breakfast La Bastide du Bosquet, where the famous French author Guy de Maupassant was said to have stayed while writing short stories and the novel ‘Mont Orio’. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 16, 2020 at 3:17am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Explore the markets

When in the Old Town, you can’t miss the Marché Provençal, where stalls overflow with everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to specialty cheeses, olives, charcuterie, spices, fish and flowers.

It’s open every day in the morning except for Mondays in winter, while in the afternoon it becomes a crafts market, local artists showcase their paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Check with your Antibes guide for up-to-date opening days and hours, as they change during summer and winter.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Feb 28, 2020 at 3:01am PST

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

If you’re visiting Antibes in the summer months of July and August, there are night markets held on the L’esplanade du Pré-des-Pêcheurs. There are plenty of other great markets in Antibes, including the Foire clothes market, which has a mix of clothing, bags, jewellery and household items, while the brocante (secondhand) market sells all kinds of vintage clothes, shoes, bags and assorted treasures.

RELATED CONTENT: Seven reasons to visit the French Riviera

Walk along the coast on Cap d’Antibes

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 14, 2020 at 3:14am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

The beautiful Cap d’Antibes is a peninsula running between Antibes and Juan-les-Pins, and is peppered with gorgeous sights. You can drive it, take the local bus, or follow the coastal footpath on a scenic walk or bike ride.

It’s a wonderful lush area, lined with glamorous villas, pretty gardens and stunning sea views. One of the top highlights is the Jardin Botanique de la Villa Thuret, a magical botanical garden created by botanist Gustave Thuret in 1857. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:00am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

There’s also the 16th-century chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garoupe, an old pilmigrate site. It’s now dedicated to those lost at sea and is dotted with model ships and sea artefacts. 

Nearby, is the Phare de la Garoupe, one of the most powerful on the coast with a beacon that can be seen by boats for 40km out to sea. The lighthouse isn’t open to the public, but you can follow the one-kilometre Chemin de Calvaire pathway up to the lighthouse for a panoramic view over the glittering Côte d’Azur. You can see Juan-les-Pins and Cannes in one direction, and Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nice and Italy in the other.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Feb 17, 2020 at 8:04am PST

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

For more seafaring history, stop by the Naval and Napoleonic Museum, or if you’re after more greenery, head to Villa Eilenroc. This 11-acre park and villa estate was originally bought by a wealthy Dutch gentleman, who named the estate by reversing his wife’s name, Cornélie. Wander through the dreamy gardens, filled with palm trees, lush lawns and colourful flowers.

Hit the beautiful beaches

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Aug 23, 2019 at 7:11am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

You can’t come to Antibes and not spend at least a few hours enjoying the beaches here. There are stretches of soft golden sand and clear turquoise waters, rocky coves that are excellent for snorkelling, and private beaches where you’ll find umbrellas and bottle service. Your Antibes guide will have plenty of recommendations for where to sunbathe and swim. 

Plage du Ponteil is ideal for families, with plenty of amenities and small boats and kayaks for hire. For something more secluded, head to Plage Mala, supposedly used by Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his lover when they holidayed here.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of France

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 29, 2020 at 3:09am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

 If you’re looking for luxury, Plage de la Garoupe is home to luxury private beach clubs in the summer, and you can hire a lounger with drinks service – but don’t boast about it on social media as this beach has a strict selfie ban! We also love Plage de la Gravette, overlooked by the Old Town ramparts, with a sheltered cove that’s perfect for swimming or enjoying aperitifs at sunset.

Explore historical Fort Carré

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Oct 30, 2019 at 9:03am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Built upon Roman ruins in the 16th century, Fort Carré is packed with history. Napoleon was imprisoned here during the French Revolution, and it was also used to protect the border between France and the neighbouring county of Nice in the 19th century. After Nice became part of France, the fort was used as a sports college for soldiers who used to abseil down its walls. 

Today it’s open to visitors, and you might recognise it as the villain’s retreat in the James Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’. It also offers stunning views over the harbour, with Antibes on one side and Nice on the other. It’s about a 30-minute walk along the harbour from Antibes Old Town, or you can take a local bus or taxi.

Check out the super yachts in the marina

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Jul 9, 2019 at 8:00am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Want to see how the other half live? Head to Antibes Port Vauban. It’s a natural harbour that’s been used since before Roman times as the ancient Greek trading port of Antipolis. Today it’s the largest marina in the Mediterranean, packed with around 1,800 boats including some of the world’s most expensive superyachts. 

If you’d like to do a bit of fantasy yacht shopping, head to Billionaires’ Quay, where you’ll see uniformed crew polishing the superyachts of the ultra-rich sheikhs, oligarchs and royalty that holiday in the Mediterranean.

Stroll around the Safranier Free Commune

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on May 6, 2020 at 2:55am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

If you head south of Antibes along the ramparts, you’ll come across Safranier, a small free commune. It’s filled with cobbled streets and fantastic bars and restaurants, including the beloved bistro, Le Safranier. 

The commune was founded in 1966 and is described as a place “to do good and have fun”. It’s also famed as the place where Nikos Kazantzakis wrote “Zorba the Greek”. Wander around and you might even stumble upon a lively festival, from colourful markets to spaghetti eating contests!

Discover thousands of old postcards

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:03pm PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

If you love the nostalgia of postcards, head to the Musée de la Carte Postale (Museum of the Postcard). You’ll see thousands of original, international postcards from many different eras, and learn all about how our means of communication has changed over the decades, from postcards, to phones, to the internet. 

RELATED CONTENT: A Montenegro vacation is the new (and more affordable) French Riviera

Getting around Antibes

Walking is the easiest way to get around the narrow cobblestone streets of Antibes. Most of them are pedestrianised and there are so many fantastic attractions in the historic Old Town.

You can also use local buses to get to other towns and villages, or you could hire a bicycle and zoom along the stunning peninsula of Cap d’Antibes. You might even cross paths with some of the region’s top Tour de France-level cyclists!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:09am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Where to eat and drink in Antibes

There are dozens of charming bistros in the Old Town dishing up classic Mediterranean cuisine. You’ll find region specialities like bouillabaisse, fresh seafood and Italian-influenced pizza and pasta. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants right on the water, so you can enjoy your food with a view. Just ask your Antibes guide for the best local recommendations!

If you want to treat yourself to a Michelin-starred affair, make a reservation at Bacon on the Cap d’Antibes. This family-run restaurant is one of the most renowned seafood restaurants in the region, and has been a hit ever since it opened as a seafood shack back in the 1940s. Today, it’s an elegant restaurant with stunning views over the Cote d’Azur.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on May 13, 2020 at 4:31am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

If you’re after a drink, you might like to head to Absinthe Bar in the Old Town. The walls of this cave-like bar are lined with a crazy collection of hats, and on Friday and Saturday nights, it turns into a piano bar where you can sing along to jazz classics while sipping absinthe. This once-forbidden liqueur is served in a traditional fashion, complete with a silver spoon and sugar cube.

Special events in Antibes

Jazz à Juan Festival

Since 1960, hordes of music lovers have arrived in Juan-les-Pins for a few days in July for the Jazz à Juan Festival. The event attracts dozens of famous international musicians, including past patrons like Stevie Wonder, Dave Brubeck and Ravi Coltrane.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Feb 26, 2020 at 7:42am PST

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Head to the sidewalk on Boulevard Edouard Baudoin behind the waterfront stage to find tiles with handprints of over 50 musicians who have performed at the festival. You can also enjoy concerts throughout the city as part of the Jazz Off, including 15 concerts on the streets of Antibes and Juan-les-Pins one evening. 

Pyromelodic Festival

The greatest pyrotechnicians descend on Antibes each August for the Pyromelodic Festival. This enchanting show of lights, colours and sound runs over four dates each year, including 24 August for the celebrations of the Liberation of Antibes.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Antibes Juan-les-Pins Tourisme (@antibestourisme) on Jul 30, 2019 at 8:02am PDT

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Antibes Art Fair

The famous Salon d’Antibes (Antibes Art Fair) is one of the largest antique and art fairs in France and has been held for more than 45 years. It attracts over 20,000 attendees every year, along with serious traders and collectors from all over the world.

You’ll find everything from antiques and designer furniture to jewellery, photographs, rugs and more. It’s held during the last two weeks in April in the Esplanade du Pré des Pêcheurs.

Fancy discovering Antibes for yourself? Take a look at our Riviera Explorer tour. Have you ever visited this artistic Mediterranean town? What are your favourite things to do in Antibes? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • Sign up to our newsletter

  • Monthly travel tips, stories and inspiration, delivered straight to your inbox.