My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
If you are one to engage in a love affair, then Antibes, with all its beauty is the perfect romantic hideaway! There are two famous people, whose affair was global, that included Antibes in their shenanigans. Who are they? Inquiring minds want to know! And, all in good, time, the notorious duo will be revealed to you. But, first, let's get familiar with Antibes and its somewhat dubious history!
Located on the French Riveria, this location hasn't always been referred to as Antibes. Originally settled by, yes, the Greeks, around the 4th century BC. The original name of this lovely haven was Antipolis, translating to "Opposite City". Based on its location, is on the opposite side of the estuary from Nice, France. And also, because of its location, even during these ancient times, it was a strategic port for maritime trade.
By 43 BC, the Romans entered the picture and took control of the area to enhance their maritime trade. The Romans were responsible for installing the aqueducts that supplied the city with water. They also, as typical in ancient Roman cities, built an amphitheater. During exploration and excavations, a tombstone of a child was found that backs up the theory of the amphitheater build. Inscribed on the tombstone are the words "he danced and was popular on the stage of the theatre".
The Unpaid Debt of the Pope!
After hundreds of years of one invasion after another, mostly by pirates, the area came under the rule of the Pope. This transition occurred sometime in the 11th century. Some two hundred years later, the Pope, who was considered the overlord of this feudal location, had gotten into insurmountable debt. This situation had the making of scandal all over it and to prevent that, Antipolis was passed to the Grimaldi family of Genoa. This is the same Grimaldi that today rules the principality of Monaco. At this point, the name was changed to Antibes and the city became the easternmost port of France.
And Once Again, it Changed Hands:
The War of the Austrian Successionsaw Antibes under new leadership in 1746. However, in less than two months, Antibes was back in the hands of France.
Several years later, in approximately 1815, Napoleon had been exiled to the island of Elba. He escaped and fled to Antibes. Because the people of Antibes had been staunch supporters of Napoleon, he was under the mistaken impression they would greet him with open arms. This was not the case as they literally refused to let him into the city.
Was Peace Ever Going to Be Reached?
Finally, by the late 19th century, this city found its calling as a destination for the wealthy. Aristocrats from all over Europe began vacationing in Antibes and it became "the place to be and be seen". Finally, after centuries of blood baths, Antibes was able to leave its sordid past behind!
In order to guarantee growth and economic stability, Antibes joined with the neighboring town of Juan les Pins and became geographically larger almost overnight.
In More Modern Times:
Since Antibes was renowned for its beauty and serenity, after the two cities joined proverbial hands, it began to draw in artists and writers. Picasso is known to have taken residence in Antibes for about six months. During his stay, he painted and crafted ceramics and tapestries. Upon his departure, he gifted a number of works to the city.
There are a number of things to see and do in Antibes. It is still a popular hangout for the rich and famous but the city also sees a number of tourists arriving on cruise ships. The attractions in Antibes vary according to one's cultural taste. Many visitors, including cruisers, take the opportunity to relax in the serene environment that Antibes offers.
Attractions of Antibes
- Parks and Gardens
- The Garoupe Lighthouse
- Antibes Cathedral
- Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc
- The Yachting Ports
- The Beaches
Can't Miss Museum
The Picasso Museum is now housed in what was once the Castle of Antibes. This museum houses one of the largest collections of Picasso. The collection is brilliantly amazing and offers 24 paintings, 44 drawings, 32 lithographs, 11 oils on paper, 80 pieces of ceramics, two sculptures, and five tapestries. Some of these pieces were the ones gifted to the city by Picasso himself, others have been donated through the years.
The Garoupe Lighthouse
A well-known attraction in Antibes, it is no longer open for the public to go inside. It is, however, still in use. It takes a bit of work to get there and many visitors take a picnic and enjoy the views of the sea.
Hiking is a popular activity to reach this old lighthouse, but be forewarned, it is a strenuous journey. There is also a small chapel next to the lighthouse that is more than definitely worth seeing. Inside the chapel, there are colorful drawings left by current and former fishermen.
The Exflora Park
In my opinion, one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen in all my travels. Antibes is known for its love of roses. Within the garden is a 500-meter path that leads to the sea. This path is lined with beautiful rose bushes.
Within the garden, there are several smaller gardens that are planted in a fashion that honors the Mediterranean history of Antibes. Also, in Exflora Park, there are a number of fountains and ponds. It is a glorious place to wander through, picnic, or just sit and admire!
Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc
Are you still wondering about the two famous stars who had a romantic affair at Antibes? Let me give you a clue before I spill the beans! Puerto Vallarta is not the only place made famous by these clandestine lovers. S their torrid love affair intensified, Elizabeth Tayor and Richard Burton were frequent guests of the Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc. The hotel was built in 1870 and it is styled like a 19th-century chateau. The setting is in a wooded area at the tip of the peninsula giving it plenty of privacy and discretion. Once Liz and Richard married, they also honeymooned at the Hotel. Amongst other famous former guests are Marlene Dietrich, Winston Churchill, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Scenes from the movie 'Under the Cherry Moon' starring Prince were filed there.
Today there are over 100 suites and two private villas available on the property. There are three restaurants including the first star Michelin Louroc Restaurant. There are also six bars. While tourists can't just wander the property, it is available to those who wish to dine or enjoy cocktails.
Antibes boasts a 16-mile stunning coastline with 48 beaches. these beaches can get very crowded, especially in August when many Europeans are on holiday.
The beaches more to the east and more remote are less crowded and offer a bit of privacy. Note also, that there is a boardwalk along the coast.
Antibes and My Impressions
This was a cruise destination for me. We, of course, did the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour and had a fabulous time. We enjoyed lunch at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc and a few cocktails. Of course, shopping in the boutique shops was on the list, and a coffee overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean. Again, similar to other cruise destinations, we found this to be a relaxing, kick-back day.
Antibes is where I learned that many French cities still observe Siesta; a mid-day shut down to rest. This tradition started many years ago when farming was a more dominant occupation. Going home to rest took the outside workers out of the heat of the day. Again, still observed in many of Europe, there is a plus side to this tradition. That being the businesses will close say from 2pm to 5 or 6pm and then re-open for evening hours. This was the case that day in Antibes. We were waiting for the shuttle bus to go back to the port to embark the ship, but none came. It was siesta time. So friends, when you are traveling Europe, check on this per your destination.
All in all, I found Antibes to be quaint. It felt a bit like steppingback in time. It was a lovely day in late spring with bright sunny skies. The streets were overly crowded and it was simply put, "Fabulous!"
Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is to Live!"
© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin