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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Why you should visit Antibes this Summer

The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald took his wife Zelda to Antibes in 1925.  Back then it was a quiet place ideal for writing. Antibes on the French Riviera has preserved its charm; captivating, traditional and still relatively calm.

The Fitzgeralds  left their elegant Long Island home not for gay Paris, but Antibes, a much less expensive region. Inspired by his new surroundings, Scot Fitzgerald shut himself away and finished off his masterpiece Tender is the Night.

Much has changed since then, but Antibes is still an ideal place to escape to.  Historic, delightful, and beautiful, this little town halfway between Nice and Cannes is much less busy than the rest of the glitzy Riviera.

What makes Antibes, different from the rest of the Riviera hotspots? 

For me, it’s the old town with its narrow cobbled streets, the choice of outdoor cafés, and the atmosphere.  The locals, however, are proud of:

n  The Picasso Museum
n  The Antibes Market
n  The Millionaire’s Port

They are right, here are three must-see spots in Antibes.

View of the old town from the sea 

The Picasso Museum

It would be a pity to miss the Musée Picasso at the Chateau Grimaldi.  Spectacularly positioned, the 14th -century chateau houses a magnificent collection of the maestro’s paintings, lithographs, and ceramics.

 As you look out from the castle’s fortified windows unto the magnificent port of Antibes on the Côte d’Azur, you’ll understand Picasso’s enthusiasm when he first came to live in Antibes. The Spanish painter and sculpture had grown tired of busy Paris and together with his lover, Françoise Gilot headed down to the calmer gentler South of France in the summer of 1946. Picasso’s works may be seen all over the world but it was here in Antibes that he created some of his most impressive oeuvres. Musée Grimaldi became Picasso Museum, the first museum dedicated to Picasso in France in December that year. 

Picasso is the big draw but go here to discover the lesser known Russian artist Nicolas de Stael. The modern abstract painter attracted attention in both Paris, and New York and was just getting known for his success, at the peak of his career when he moved to Antibes where sadly he took his life. Nicolas de Stael’s unique consideration of space, light, and color comes over quite strongly when we look at his vast canvasses such as Le Concert, his last painting.

 The Antibes Market
Antibes Market

The covered food market in Antibes is only a few streets away.  Here’s where you get carried away by fresh Provencal goodies – olives, fruit, herbs, spices, sausages and for cheese gourmets an excellent array of fine cheeses from the mountain. Run daily from 6 to 1 p.m from June, the market in Antibes is not as large as the market in Nice, but, you’ll have time to talk to the local friendly vendors such as olive vendors who will let you will let you try before you buy. Voted by CNN as one of world’s ten best fresh food markets, this is one of the most visited markets on the French Riviera. Admittedly, prices are a bit high, the fruit and vegetables a little more expensive than other markets, but everyone loves the unhurried atmosphere, the delicious smells, and gourmet food.

The Millionaire’s Port

Be mesmerized at the home port of some of the world’s largest mega yachts.  You won’t bump into any millionaires, but you can marvel at the super yachts and mega yachts in Port Vauban. Nicknamed the Millionaire’s Quai, this is one of the largest harbors: it’s freely accessible to everyone so you can walk, stare in awe and observe the young mostly international crew working and preparing the yachts for the summer season from May to October.

Like all of the French Riviera, Antibes is delightful and wonderfully scenic, but, Antibes has more, it has a relaxed feel to it, it is inspiring. Fitzgerald and Picasso followed their heart; they wrote painted and enjoyed this special place in the sun.

One more thing, Antibes is still relatively peaceful, but it might not be for long - check it out this summer.  

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