Antibes Old Town Pictures, Côte d’Azur, France

Antibes old town sea wall, france

The classic shot of Antibes Old Town, also captured by Eugene Boudin in 1893. On the left an apartment block marks the start of Antibes’ new town, while the port is beyond the old town. The photo was taken from the bluff over Royal Beach.

Why holiday in Antibes Old Town?

Antibes – or Angletibes as it’s jokingly referred to due to the large number of British living and holidaying here – is a small town situated between Nice and Cannes. Its popularity was inexplicable to me until I moved here, parked my car in a distant but free car park, and started walking.

I then discovered the astonishing convenience of the place, apart from the lack of parking spaces!
Just about anywhere is 5-15 minutes walk of anywhere else.

From the town centre (Place de Gaulle) to the train station to sandy beaches to the daily Marché Provencal in the Old Town it’s just a short stagger. Which is good since that’s about as far as the ageing English residents can walk.

Close too is the Antique market, varied supermarkets, a massive variety of bars and restaurants (including the best pizza in France {according to a recent publication}), the massive and impressive fort and of course buses to Cannes, Nice and the airport.

And if you want to keep walking there’s the uber-rich Cap d’Antibes just past the beaches or Juan-Les-Pins 10 minutes away, which is hardly worth the walk except to have lunch with your feet in the sand. The lines of cramped, identical apartment blocks is more Stalinist than French.

So, leave the wheels elsewhere and boat or fly in. If you have to drive here’s some parking advice.

If the car is valuable there is pricey underground parking in the new town but nothing in the Old.

If it’s valuable but you’re not a worrier park it in the Gare d’Antibes car park which is cheaper but overground.

If you couldn’t care less or like a gamble there are two free car parks near Fort Carré/the port.

If this was UK I wouldn’t park an OK car in an unsupervised, fully accessible, long term park like this but my wheels survived 9 months with one broken quarter-light window. Nothing stolen or touched. This park is about 10 minutes walk from the Vielle Ville.

Antibes Old Town gateway, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

Entry to Antibes’ Vielle Ville from the port through old city walls. A new underground park for 600 cars just beside these gateways opened in 2014.

Antibes Old Town street, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

A street in Antibes Old Town.

Viel Antibes is built over an ancient Greek town called Antipolis and in the hinterland of the Côte d’Azur, near Valbonne and Mougins is the region’s ‘silicon valley’ of Sophia Antipolis, where streets and high-tech institutions tend to be labeled with grand Greek names.

Antibes Old Town sea wall, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

A favourite walk for tourists and locals alike, travels alongside the sea wall from the port to the boule court and back up the new town’s main street Bd. Albert 1er (Premier) to Place de Gaulle. Alternatively extend the walk past the boule court to go beside the beaches and on to Cap d’Antibes if the legs are willing.

Antibes Old Town cafés, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

Old town café life, featuring plenty of locals as well as tourists.

Picasso Museum

Antibes Old Town Picasso Museum, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

Antibes Old Town Picasso Museum. Photo by Miniwark.

Le Musée Picasso is one of Antibes bigger attractions, established in the magnificent Chateau Grimaldi, right the coast with stunning sea views. The Chateau was established by the Grimaldi clan in 1608 – yes, those Grimaldis that still reign victorious in Monaco. The museum possesses 245 works by Picasso, many given by the man himself, as well as by his wife Jacqueline, tho’ I was not impressed. Lovely building but the Picasso collection, is, IMHO, almost totally inferior works.
The museum is open all year except on Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25th December.
Winter opening hours from mid-September to mid-June are 10: 00 – 12: 00 and 14: 00 – 18: 00.
In the summer from mid-June to mid September hours are the same but there’s no lunch break! 10. 00 – 18: 00. Last entry at 17: 30.

Antibes’ Marché Provençal

Antibes Old Town market, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

Antibes Old Town somewhat over-sold Marché Provençal.

The market offers fresh products every morning except Monday, ranging from meat, fish, cheese and vegetables to tourist souvenirs, but do beware, much of the produce is priced for locals but some market traders take advantage of stupid foreigners, conceal prices until a last minute coup de grace when it’s too late to back out.
In the evening the market area becomes a decent-value eating and drinking zone.

Absinthe

Antibes Old Town Absinthe bar, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

An interesting place to have a drink beside the market is the Absinthe bar/museum(left in photo), off one of the most popular pedestrian streets in Le Viel Antibes.

This mysterious green spirit associated with 19th century artists and writers such as Van Gogh and Baudelaire, but was outlawed for decades due to the health risks associated with it, such as insanity, death and loss of ears.
However these side effects seem to have been due to ‘quality control’ issues and the current thinking is that the herbs in absinthe are in fact good for you – or is that PR optimism?

Absinthe was reintroduced legally in 2003. Antibes Old Town Absinthe museum/bar is set in the basement of the olive oil shop adjacent to the Marché Provençal and has a pleasant ambience with varied Absinthe at about €4 a glass.

Antibes Old Town antiques market, the Vieille Ville, Côte d'Azur, France

An antique market in one of the Vielle Ville’s several places.

Antibes Transport

This is a terrific walking town with just about everything from the port’s megayachts to the train station to Carrefour supermarket to the sandy beaches all within 15 minutes stagger.
But if boredom kicks in a fit tourist might consider a bike rental. There are plenty of shops nearby offering bikes and a ride around the Cap d’Antibes is an invigorating and interesting way to see how the other half live, or check out the horrors of Juan-les-Pins overdevelopment. Alternatively catch a convenient 1 euro bus ride (#200) to Cannes, Nice and many other destinations.