ANTIBES: The French Riviera is so chic, so glamorous – and in summer, so crowded. Friends think I was mad to go here in August. But it’s great in peak season – if you choose the right place and can enjoy a glass of rosé beside a palm-shaded pool. Some of us like to travel at peak season to a seaside resort and rent the right villa, walk a lively cavalcade of chic promenades, visit flashy beach clubs, watch glitzy super yachts and have trays of seafood.
Speaking about food – it is always about the food in France, isn’t it? A lunch on the terrace of Eden Roc Restaurant at Hotel du Cap is like enter a kind of existential heaven – the combination of food, sunlight on water, beautiful views and surroundings is and ethereal experience.
Apartment and hotels. The seaside town of Antibes is not as crowded as Nice, only 30 minutes away. A large and very central two-bed roomed apartment, with a large balcony will cost from 1,000 euro for the first week of August. If you want to live as the rich and famous, Hotel du Cap Eden Rock is the best for luxury and style, and the most expansive alternative. Johnny Depp, Leonardo Di Caprio and Penelope Cruz and many other celebrities rather stay here during the Cannes Film Festival. Even the cheapest room is expensive. Other alternatives are AC Ambassadeur Antibes, SaiteValerieHotel and Jotel Josse is alternatives. The special Art Deco Hotel Belles Rives in Juan Les Pins has own beach area.
The Port. Some of the luxury yachts visiting Antibes even have helicopter and fly bridge at the size of a house. Port Vauban is renowned as a place where super yachts gather, with on-site heliport, just by the “Billionaire’s quay”. Here you will find remains of the fortress FortCarrè from the 1600s, when Antibes was one of the Mediterranean’s major seaports.
Healthy food.Antibes boasts the inner fillet of quality restaurants, some located in the picturesque old town. The food is among the most varied, and healthiest. There is no better lunch than a grand aioli. Le grand aioli is a full meal; salt cod, shellfish, artichokes, potatoes, fennel and vegetables.
Recommended restaurants: Le Vieux Murs, Le Figi de St-Esprit, Oscar’s and the fish served at Le Don Juan Chez Florent. All serve great food and some have friendly waiters.
Have a drink. Balade en Provence is a unique absinthe bar, located next to Picasso museum. A visit to this piano bar use to be a great social occasion. Very local wines are Bellet, produced in the hills around Nice. After dinner you might carry on to a club, and if you’ve really lost your grip on financial reality, order champagne. But Riviera night people don’t drink as if world stocks were running low. They prefer to remain vertical until late, so they are fit to take drugs in post-clubs, known as “les Afters”.
Seek out art. Every other village shop is full of metal sculptures and sub Miro scribbles. The genuine exist, too. My choice includes PicassoMuseum in Antibes, MatisseMuseum in Nice and the brilliant Fondation Maeght in St Paul for modern art.
About beauty. If you don’t have much of beauty, if you are white and a little overweight, don’t worry at all about going to the beach. Step on to the sands with confidence. You are performing a public service, helping other to feel a lot better about them. They will be grateful.
Tradition persists. People say the Côte d’Azur is too crowdy, too built-up to be any fun any more – one huge urban stretching from Menton to Marseilles.
“The Côte is not what it was. It’s gone quite down the nick in recent years”, an English chap said. A French writer was claiming the coast has been “ruined by barbarous hordes from the north”. In short, this coast has a venerable history of going down the nick, each generation finding it less appealing and less glamorous than the one before. Of course, the traditions persist.
The bite of Côte. Today’s claim is that the Côte is not so much a top-end holiday region as a traffic jam in plastic flip-flops. It all depends on where you are standing – from the garden at my rented villa or the entire environment of the Hotel de Cap, permanently drenched in the high glamour, the Côte d’Azur seems to be holding up pretty well.
Hotel de Cap is possibly the most exclusive hotel along the coast. You need a recommendation from an existing guest to get in through the gates. People of my level, quite a number of us, are down in the town of Antibes. But we are all getting our bites of the Côte d’Azur – different-sized, but bites all the same.
Click large photos of Riviera
A city in the French Riviera. Not far from the airport in Nice. Population: 80,000
There are 3 tourist information offices in Antibes-Juan les Pins, one in the old town.
48 beaches along the 25 km (16 miles) of coastline surround Antibes and Juan les Pins.Picasso Museum houses one of the world’s greatest Picasso collections: 24 paintings, 44 drawings, 32 lithographs, 11 oils on paper, 80 pieces of ceramics, two sculptures and five tapestries.
Jazz à Juan remains one of the top jazz festivals in the world.