The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part VIII: Antibes
Of all the places we visited on the French Riviera, I think Antibes was most probably my favourite. Drawn to the old coastal town by its arty reputation, and in particular by its well known connection with Picasso and the museum which now bears his name, we didn’t ultimately end up going to the Picasso museum at all, such were the alternative attractions the town had to offer. For Antibes was all about the atmosphere of its street life – its bustling covered market place, its squares full of cafes and its ancient city walls today imbedded with art galleries – and to enjoy this, one could do no better than to simply stroll. And that is precisely what we did.
Beginning our visit in the more modern spread of the town, we gasped in delight as we walked along the sandy beach to see the old town in the distance, its silhouette characterised by the rising tower of the Picasso museum, by the old roof of the terracotta and yellow Church of the Immaculate Conception, and by the ancient ramparts which encircle the town. Moving inside those ancient walls under a series of arches and along various beautiful streets, we entered a centre teeming with life, colourful houses, and cafés spilling out onto the pavements.
Having sampled one such elegant café all decorated in soothing shades of grey, olive and white, we moved out of the town slightly to tour its amply sized marina, full of yachts and sailing craft, and then spent some time on the little beach which is perfectly nestled within the curve of the ancient walls, like a mother’s arm, scooping up sand enough for her child to play in. It was back to the cafés after that, via a multitude of art galleries, colourful shops selling local produce, and sandy squares where locals played pétanque. In the Place Nacionale, we found Antibes’ beating heart in the form of a shady square lined with cafés, bistros and brasseries, and playing host to a busy antiques market, and there, around a fountain which reminded me of the stunning street fountains we had discovered in Aix, we ended the day with a well deserved ice coffee and a glass of wine. Santé!
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