A few months ago we had a chance to visit the famous all over the world French Riviera. I usually prefer way more off the beaten path places (like my favorite Balkans or Caucasus) but the winter sale of airplane tickets to Nice (I'll also share my thoughts on Nice soon) was so tempting that only a fool wouldn't have taken advantage of it. Also, the winter was coming to an end and the only way to escape the cold, grey and gloomy landscapes of Northern Europe was to head south. During the few days along the French Riviera, we decided to skip the most popular cities - Cannes and St. Tropez and look for something more quiet, local and charming. We came across the little, beautiful towns of Antibes and Eze. In this part I'll show you Antibes and in the second, the magnificent Eze - a hill town which was my favorite in the entire French Riviera.
How to get to Antibes
Although the French Riviera is pretty expensive, the public transport is just amazing and affordable. There are multipe buses and trains daily that run from the center of the region - Nice, both south towards Cannes and north to Monaco. To reach Antibes, you have to head south. The bus 200 costs less than 2 EUR/2.50 USD! The journey takes over 1 hour. If you want to save time, you can catch a train which is a bit more expensive.
What to see in Antibes
The old town in Antibes is located around a 15 minute walk from the station. It's absolutely lovely - old-style, stone houses, red roof tiles, resembles a lot the Croatian seaside villages. I just loved it! And, visiting it in winter felt as if we had just discovered a hidden little place that no one knows about. I know it's hard to believe, but there were virtually zero tourists in Antibes during our stay.
The best thing about Antibes is the fact that you can admire both: the amazing, snowy peaks of the Alps in the background and the contrasting, blue Mediterranean Sea. Apart from that, Antibes has everything a little, charming village needs to have: ancient defensive walls, old churches (Church of the Immaculate Conception), beautiful, tiny streets, cozy restaurants and cafes and above all that - the Picasso Museum!
Antibes also has beaches, however they are not as beautiful as in Nice or Eze. The water doesn't have this strong azure color. They are not bad, just OK. The only "bad" thing about Antibes old town is that it's very, very small. You can walk around it within a few hours. Nevertheless, it's perfect for a half-day from Nice!
The port in Antibes has been used since antiquity and it's surrounded by huge defensive walls (Bastion St-Jaume). Now, it's a harbor dedicated for world's most luxurious yachts and boats where the richest of this world keep their expensive toys. Nevertheless, when we were there, we didn't have such feeling at all - maybe if you're visiting Antibes in the summer or look more closely, you can see that the place is so over the top. During our stay, it looked like a normal, little, local sea village.
I am a fan of original, unique things. Antibes has the amazing sculpture called "Nomade" which is around 10 meters (30 ft.) high. It's entirely composed of the Latin alphabet letters. Some of the braver kids were climbing up the monument up to the very top. It looked very interesting. If you like such original monuments and sculptures, have a look at my article about Batumi which boasts the moving monument of love (the only moving monument I've ever seen).
Short visit in Cannes
Cannes is very close to Antibes, and before leaving the French Riviera (the airport is on the way back to Nice from Cannes and Antibes), we decided to get a glimpse of the famous city. We spent there only an hour or so and were quite unimpressed. The famous building where the festival is held is really nothing special and the whole city has the stuck up atmosphere, even more than Monaco (which I've described here). If you like authentic, sincere places rather than plastic and full of pretentious people, choose the smaller villages rather than Cannes. We were so happy we did!
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