Antibes, Cote D’Azur France: There’s a Reason…

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One of the beaches in Antibes, Cote d’Azur, France. Max Hartshorne photos.

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

Fresh fish vendor next to the impressive harbor full of yachts in Antibes.
Fresh fish vendor next to the impressive harbor full of yachts in Antibes.

I knew my trip to France was gonna be good I just didn’t know it was gonna be this good.

I mean the hike today along the Cap d’Antibes, on the Tire Poir,  the Rocky, rugged coastline with the beautiful pathway rolling past billionaires’ homes was stunning and striking.

The weather was perfect and people were bobbing in the deep Mediterranean and everything was just about as good as it can be. That alone was enough of a good reason to visit Antibes…but oh, there were so many more!

Damn the Covid

So many Americans are coming to Europe damn the Covid damn the problem of prices damn the torpedoes full speed travel ahead! Every plane I am on is packed, but people I’ve encountered are all enjoying their travels and not stressing over the many hassles.

Of course, I had my own flight cancellation–but it gave me a few more nights in Europe so all was fine.

Picking Antibes

The incredible Tire Poir hike on the outer edge of Cap d'Antibes, known as billionaire's row.
The incredible Tire Poir hike on the outer edge of Cap d’Antibes, known as billionaire’s row.

What better choice could I have made than Antibes? I mean, there’s a reason why billionaires dock their super yachts in the vast Port Vauban Marina. And we’re talking about the world’s largest yachts the Solange, the Carinthia VII,  the yachts that exceed even the wildest dreams about large boats.

When I was a kid I walked the docks of Edgartown looking at the gleaming white 50 or 75-foot boatS with so much envy oh god can I just get a Boston Whaler and drive around the harbor and see those boats up close?

Fast forward

Fast forward to 2022 and I’m here in Antibes on a secure path among a rugged moonscape and a high rock and cement fence that keeps the billionaires’ homes safe from gawkers like me.

Among those billionaires is sanctioned bad guy Roman Abramovich who owns a spacious mansion overlooking the cap that he’s locked out of until the Russians pull out of Ukraine. Who knows how that’s gonna all turn out?

In the meantime, the yachts that do remain in this huge harbor must be owned by the good guys. Because the oligarch’s boats have all been seized. But back to this path–what a trip for two hours and it goes all the way around Cap D’Antibes.

Swimmers were diving in the rocky waters and some daredevils were diving off high cliffs and scrambling back up to shore.

Just a few of the superyachts who dock in Antibes, France.
Just a few of the superyachts that dock in Antibes, France.
Pelanque in progress in Antibes.
Pelanque in progress in Antibes.
Frederick Rosenfelder in Antibes.
Frederick Rosenfelder in Antibes.

They have it all including some secret pocket beaches that look gorgeous. But I wasn’t there to swim I was there for a hike and I continued our walk along the way for the full two hours enjoying the sunshine and conversation with Kevin my local guide.

What else is there to do in Antibes? Well of course there’s a beautiful market because this is Provence, and in the market, I met a man named Frederick Rosenfelder who owns a shop in the public market called Balade en Provence.

It’s a cozy grotto where the mysteries of absinthe are explained and of course, this involves a taste. But there’s more Rosenfelder has come up with a unique way to share the joy of the Provence’s favorite drink pasties. 

The best baker in Antibes Jean-Paul Veziano.
The best baker in Antibes Jean-Paul Veziano.

Make Your Own Pastis

People come to the other side of the grotto and are presented with a series of small bottles these are essences of flowers and herbs combined with alcohol, and the job is to create their own mixture of pasties the famous Provençal drink.

Rosenfelder has only been doing this for a month but already it’s been a real hit and people keep coming back with their friends and making new varieties of pasties at the end you are presented with a special bottle that comes in a little box with your own label.

It’s a little bit like what they do in the city of Grasse about 40 minutes to the south where you can make your own perfume. I also was able to do that during this wonderful Sojourn in Provence.

Picasso in Antibes

One of the people Antibes takes great pride in having as a part-time resident was one of the world’s greatest painters, Pablo Picasso.

In 1926, the old Château Grimaldi was bought by the local municipality and later restored for use as a museum. Picasso came to the town in 1946, having visited his friend and fellow painter Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara there in 1923, and was invited to stay in the castle.

During his six-month stay, Picasso painted and drew, as well as crafting ceramics and tapestries. When he departed, Picasso left a number of his works to the municipality.

The castle that became the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France.
The castle that became the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France.

The Picasso Museum

The castle has since become the Picasso Museum. Today the works there are all unsigned, but it’s pretty incredible to be able to walk and tour a gallery where the great painter actually painted!

Baker Man

We met Jean-Paul Veziano at his eponymous Antibes Bakery and after saying hello he took us up front so we could grab one of his hand-shaped pastries to sample.

The specialties here include pissaladiere, the ubiquitous caramelized onion tart, and pastries shaped like little fingers.

Jean-Paul has baked with the very best, including mega chef Alain Ducasse, the Michelin star leader.  He likes to share a little piece of his sourdough starter, and he pinched off a piece and gave it to me wrapped in a bag.

“This starter is from 1976, I’ve had it that long and it continuously keeps coming back from that same ball of starter 45 years ago,” he said.

Map of Antibes

Where to Stay in Antibes

Pastries at Boulangerie Veziano in Antibes.
Pastries at Boulanger Veziano in Antibes.

I stayed in La Villa, a new hotel with a perfect location right near Port Vauban. The room was relatively spacious, it included a nice breakfast buffet, and it really suited my visit.

It was nice being so near the Port where there are many good restaurants, including The Annex, a busy place with seafood and great drinks.

Dining in Antibes

Along with a lunch at the baker’s place Boulanger Veziano, I made a good decision to let my server choose my meals at the wonderful Bistrot Margaux, on the other side of Port Vauban. Everything was delicious and each course came as a surprise!

This trip was sponsored by Cote d’Azur Tourism, and Antibes Les Pins tourism but the opinions are the author’s own. 

Watch our video about Absinthe in Antibes with Frederick Rosenfelder