A South of France beach holiday will turn anyone into a “nose” or Le Nez as the French so fondly call the people who create perfumes. The bouquet is unlike any other fragrance in the world. A combination of pine, spicy herbs, and sweet, sweet flowers, it begins to beckon the minute you step off the train. The first fragrant deep breath you take in Cap d’Antibes will stay in your heart long after your Cote d’Azur vacation ends.
A South of France Beach Holiday in Beautiful Antibes
This sweet-smelling paradise, its named villas, and postcard-worthy landscape have left their mark on my heart.
They say once you’ve visited the French Riviera you are changed forever and you return again and again.
This is certainly the case for me.
“Actually, that’s my secret — I can’t even talk about you to anybody because I don’t want any more people to know how wonderful you are.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in the 1920s. He and his wife Zelda were falling in love with Cap d’Antibes.
The words are from his book Tender is the Night and could be applied to what I’m about to share with you about this very special place.
Getting to Antibes and Cap d’Antibes
The stunning town of Antibes sits between Cannes and Nice on the famed French Riviera (Cote d’Azur).
A trip to Cap d’Antibes is an easy and short domestic flight from Paris to Nice (the closest major airport to Antibes).
A quick 20-minute taxi ride from the airport outside Nice to Antibes will have you on the stunning Cap d’Antibes.
The train from Paris to Nice and Nice to Antibes is simple. I traveled easily from Paris to Antibes by train. Leaving from Gare De Lyon, the journey takes just under seven hours.
Related: Amazing Things to Do in Avignon
Where to Stay in Antibes
A South of France Beach Holiday conjures images of indulgence and that’s exactly what a boutique hotel in Antibes offers.
Antibes luxury hotels offer all the touch points of larger, luxury European hotels but in a much more intimate setting.
These are 5 of the best luxury hotels in Cap d’Antibes:
In addition, there is an abundance of Antibes villas to rent if a more intimate experience is what you want.
I split my time between a private Antibes villa and a stay at one of the most beautiful Antibes hotels, Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel.
It made for the perfect independent, local feel and a more pampered stay.
Related: Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel Review
8 of the Best Things to Do in Antibes
There is an energy of fitness and vitality in Cap d’Antibes, as well as a feeling of appreciation for living a beautiful life.
The balance of being active and taking time to relax and enjoy the beauty is possible with many things to do to appease both desires.
1. Spend the Day at the Beach
A South of France holiday during the summer months is synonymous with slow days at the beach.
Whether you want to take a quick dip or splurge on a day at one of the iconic beach clubs, one of the many beaches in Antibes will meet your needs.
Read our guide to the best beaches in Antibes
Related: The Best Restaurants in Antibes
2. Hiking in Antibes
One of my very favorite things to do on Cap d’Antibes is the hike around the tip of the cape.
The Sentier du Littoral is really two hikes in one depending on which direction you go.
The views from either direction are spectacular. But, many locals advise that you start the hike at the Villa Eilenroc and end at La Garoupe. They claim that the views are more spectacular with the sun behind you. Another advantage is that you finish at one of the magnificent Antibes beaches.
I did the hike in both directions. Going the opposite way I ended in Juan Les Pins with a pizza on the beach at the boardwalk where there are many culinary choices to reward you for your efforts.
To hike like a local, stop at a boulangerie before you go. And, pick up the local Niçoise sandwich called Pan Bagnat, it is a specialty of the French Riviera.
Bring plenty of water, wear walking shoes, and wear your bathing suit so that you can stop along the way at any one of the tempting swimming and picnicking spots.
It’s best to do the hike when you have plenty of time. The entire hike from one side of the cape to another takes at least a few hours depending on how many times you stop and how many glorious photos you take.
This hike is one of the best hikes on the French Riviera. The path is very easy and clear but there are many places with steps that are steep and narrow so it is best to walk with care and be prepared for a little adventure.
If you prefer a guided tour of this hike they happen twice a week during July and August and a reservation is required.
3. Visit Port Gallice
There is a little port called Port Gallice which stole my heart during my visit.
There’s a small beach tucked just beside the docked boats in this port. The water is crystal clear and the sunset from this spot is a work of art.
Related: A Guide to Hiking in Interlaken
4. Enjoy a Bespoke Dining Experience
There is a local man named Nitin and his wife who offer a beach picnic experience that is right out of the pages of a luxury travel magazine.
When you arrive the entire picnic with a table, cushions for seating, and an umbrella for shade are ready for you.
The small meal, apero, or custom menu is prepared by Nitin which he sets up and takes down. I invited a few friends to join me for a drink and it was a standout as one of the best things to do in Cap d’Antibes.
5. Watch the Cliff Jumping in Bale des Milliardaires
If cliff jumping is on your list you must visit the Bale des Milliardaires. Or perhaps you just don a beautiful suit and watch from the nearly private beach.
Locals have been visiting this spot for generations. Mid-afternoons are usually the busiest when they meet here and launch themselves into the sea from the various cliffs which are perfectly placed for thrill-seekers.
This spot is a popular place for land and sea lovers: the crystal-clear blue waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. And, the little cove is a great spot for boats to be anchored and the sandy beach is a rare treat.
6. Visit Villa Eilenroc Gardens
A visit to Villa Eilenroc Gardens is a must.
If you find yourself on Cap d’Antibes in May you will be fortunate to be there during “Les Floralies d’Antibes”. It’s a week-long flower festival when the roses are in full bloom and the smell is intoxicating.
Throughout the rest of the year, Eilenroc is open on the first and third Saturdays of the month and on Wednesday afternoons.
7. Visit an Antibes Art Gallery
Art lovers will find many ways to spend their days gazing at some of the very best art in the world.
From Picasso to Matisse, Chagall, Kandinsky, and Soulages, the art that can be found along this part of the French Riviera is swoon-worthy.
Not to be missed while visiting Cap d’Antibes is the Picasso Museum located in the Chateau Grimaldi.
Perched above the Mediterranean in nearby Antibes, the collection of art here represents the work that Picasso created while living on the French Riviera. It beautifully captures the spirit of the sea.
Unique to this museum is a collection of ceramics that Picasso fabricated in Vallauris, a pottery center nearby.
The local art scene in Antibes is flourishing with many galleries and studios to visit.
This is beautifully expressed in the collective of artists called “Premiers Vendredis”. They open their doors on the first Friday of every month and encourage “amateurs d’arts” to visit and chat with them while sharing an aperitif.
There is a culture and appreciation for sharing the arts in Antibes. You can easily find yourself at a pottery wheel or canvas during one of these Fridays and the artists in Antibes often offer workshops and classes.
8. Stay Active
One of my favorite things about Antibes and Cap d’Antibes is the feeling of fitness and vitality here.
Because the cape is an active place is easy to rent paddleboards in Antibes as well as kayaks, electric bikes, and even boats during your stay.
On any given day you will see cyclists riding along the coast, hikers making their way on paths and trails, and an abundance of water sports activities.
It is also possible to rent a bicycle and cycle from Antibes to Cannes or Nice if you are serious and love coastal rides.
Cap Kayak in Port Gallice offers kayaks for rent and Paddling in Antibes is the place to grab a paddleboard.
Hiking the cape on the Sentier du Littoral trail is by far my favorite way to stay active on Cap d’Antibes.
There are also many boat cruises and tours if you’d rather have a local guide.
Related: A Montepulciano Wine Tasting Guide
Where to Eat in Antibes
From beachside bites to local Antibes delicacies and Michelin Star dining there are so many great Antibes restaurants.
For more on where to eat in Antibes from cute cafes to the best restaurants in Antibes see our full guide.
Where to Shop in Cap d’Antibes
Shopping on Cap d’Antibes is sparse with only a few groceries stores, a pharmacy, and a local market.
For serious shopping, it is best to venture to a nearby town such as Antibes, Nice, Cannes, or Juan Les Pins.
One shopping experience not to miss is the close-by Marche Provençal in the heart of Old Town in Antibes.
This local covered market takes place every day from Tuesday to Sunday in the Winter, and daily in the high season (June 1 – August 31).
The size of the market varies throughout the year, but you can find up to fifty vendors on site on a typical day.
The market is a feast for the five senses with glorious colors carefully curated with the typical French market aesthetic (worthy of big Likes on your Instagram account), marvelous aromas of Provence, and tasty fresh delicacies from both land and sea.
The early bird gets the worm at this market so serious shoppers arrive early, the market officially opens at 7:30 am.
Not to be missed are the locally harvested fruits and vegetables, the spice stall which is an Instagram favorite, the charcuterie stall in the middle of the market with wild boar saucisson and figatellu.
Just across from the charcuterie you will find one of my favorite vendors, Fromagerie Hibert with an incredibly decadent selection of fresh cheeses.
If you arrive early you can beat the long cue usually lined up at the Boucherie Testa.
There’s also the local’s favorite butcher. I watched him work one morning and it doesn’t get any fresher than that.
Of course, a market like this on the sea isn’t without fresh fish. At the opposite end of the fountain entrance, you will find Denis Genovese’s fish stall where he sells the freshly caught fish of the day, he is the last of four generations of fishermen to peddle his catch here.
There are fresh flowers, pastries, jams, and of course, if you are hungry you can join the cue for a freshly made Socca baked in a wood fire oven. This market was a daily favorite destination for me and certainly one of many ways to feel like a local when visiting Antibes.
Related: How to See Florence in Two Days
Before every early market visit, I made my way to the oldest boulangerie in Antibes, Boulangerie Veziano. It is very close by.
Boulangerie Veziano has been passed down from father to son since 1924.
If you miss the early cue or sleep in, you may arrive at closed doors and a sold-out hot spot. Try everything but don’t miss the sourdough bread, it is incredible.
Antibes Old Town
As a wandering shopper, I found delight in discovering many small boutiques in Antibes Old Town.
There is even an English bookstore called Antibes Books on Rue Georges Clemenceau.
Be sure to wander through Le Commune Libre du Safranier, a part of the town created in the early 1960s by local residents to preserve the local cultural traditions and festivals.
Covering an area between Rue de la Tourraque and Rue de la République you will find a myriad of pretty, mainly pedestrian, streets that are so beautiful you will feel like you are in a French postcard.
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Day Trips from Antibes
Antibes may be one of the most exceptionally located places. It is the ideal base for your South of France beach holiday as there are so many beautiful nearby places to visit in all directions up and down the coast.
There are many spectacular destinations within an hour of Antibes. With the train and bus network, it is possible to do this easily without renting a car.
Antibes to Nice
Antibes to Nice takes about twenty minutes by train.
Nice is a beautiful coastal destination. Be sure to splurge for lunch or sunset dinner at Le Plongeoir. Also, don’t miss a wander around the charming Old Town.
Antibes to Cannes
Antibes to Cannes takes 15 minutes by train. So, you can easily take a day trip to Cannes.
Cannes is perfect for high-end designer boutique shopping and a luxe lunch on the coast.
Antibes to Saint Paul de Vence
Saint-Paul de Vence is a nearby medieval village located about thirty minutes from Antibes.
This village is known for its art galleries and Provencal shops.
Antibes to Monaco, Eze and Villefranche Sur Mer
If Monaco is on your wish list you are just forty-five minutes away from Antibes and you can be in another world for the day.
Closeby Eze and Villefranche Sur Mer are also easily accessible and incredibly beautiful for an extended trip or change of scenery.
Antibes to Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez is also close, with a ferry leaving from Golfe Juan to St. Tropez during the Summer months.
Antibes to Italy
Antibes is incredibly close to Italy.
Antibes to Ventimiglia or St. Remo take about an hour.
An Iconic South of France Beach Holiday
This part of the world is spectacular in every way. Whether you stay in Antibes or close by in a beautiful hotel in Cap d’Antibes, you are sure to feel the fullness of the iconic Cote d’Azur during your South of France beach holiday.
The mark of time well-spent here is bronzed skin, tousled sea-worn hair, and a happy countenance for days after your visit ends.
It is as Fitzgerald says, when you are in Antibes it feels as though you are “breathing dreams like air…”.
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Pat Russo is a Mystic, Muse, and Spiritual Teacher guiding women into their hearts with a journey of softening. She is a published poet, a lover of hearts, and a forever student.
Feeling the impossibility of choosing between her two favorite cities, she considers San Francisco and Paris home.