Today I think I fell in love a little … with Antibes … It took me by the hand and led me along its fishtail-patterned cobblestone lanes, with their pretty little shops, gorgeous architecture and a profusion of flowers – and it won my heart. It is such a beautiful, ambient place – it has a class about it too – not the glitz and glamour of Cannes, but it has a palpable vibe and such soul.
We made the Picasso Museum our first stop, and were disappointed to find the Picasso material was not on show – we assumed either on loan on locked away, as there was one part of the Museum where access was barred. Some works of Nicolas de Stael, who lived and died in Antibes, were on show, but they were not for me. There were sculptures too, the work of Joan Miro – again, not for me. The Museum building itself, is impressive – the old Chateau Grimaldi, where Picasso spent some months working, and alongside is a lovely little Cathedral. It is a delightful quarter of the town to explore.
After the disappointment at the Museum, we took to the old town streets, via the covered market, and let it assault our senses. We had approached it from a different entry point on this visit – not the harbour front entry in the wall where we had seen so many beautiful boats moored in the Marina. This time we focused on the town itself – a visual feast for me. I wish I was a better photographer – it would help to better convey the beauty and impact of the place.
We stopped for a quick coffee and headed off to find the Safranier Quarter, which I read about in Janelle McCullough’s beautiful book Provence and the Côte d’Azur. It is truly a hidden gem – the tiny streets are so pretty and the architecture is stunning.
With lunch time looming, we decided to buy food for a picnic at a beach on Cap d’Antibes, and after “window shopping”, we settled on the very delicious fare at L’Atelier Luc Jean Pele. The food was exquisitely presented, both in the shop window and in the cabinets inside. The men behind the counter were dressed in smart uniforms, and were very helpful. It took some time to choose from the mouth-watering array, but eventually, armed with a bagful of goodies, we descended on Plage de la Garoupe on The Cap, and sat on a bench facing the sea, devouring the delicious food we had purchased. My tabbouleh salad was oh so good!
After lunch, we drove through the streets where the rich and famous live, or have lived. This area was the playground of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, to name but two. Along Blvd John Kennedy, we passed perfectly manicured high hedges, concealing magnificent homes, behind strong and elegant gates. We passed Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, (complete with security men at the entrance), where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many other famous people have stayed.
Antibes was a really special experience today. Just strolling through the magic old town, I was quite mesmerised by its beauty, its understated elegance, and its sense of history. We did pass through the more modern part of town as we entered, and the shopping looks good there, but I loved the little boutique-style shops hidden away in the pretty lanes – one in particular delighted – a toy store – how I would love to have come away with one of the gorgeous little pedal cars for my grandson!
Over dinner tonight, we agreed that our day in Antibes was a highlight – it is enchanting, indeed it is absolutely fabulous…