Sunday, April 29, 2012

Desperate for some sun this Spring (as it has refused to show it's face in Paris for the entire month of April) we head South.  The key to enjoying a trip to the Riviera is choosing the best place to anchor.  There is lots to see and do, but some cities are a better fit than others.  For instance, Nice does not fit me.  I love the old town (and especially the brocante market on Mondays) but don't like the overdeveloped beach scene.  It's a fun place to be for lunch or dinner, but not where I want to wake up.  I've never stayed in Cannes, only driven through, but it seems to be about the same vibe accept even less post card worthy.  Then there is St. Jean Cap Ferrat.  Small, glamourous and quiet but just a little too swanky for our wallet.  Of course you can't forget Monaco, with it's legendary casino and the natural choice if you're cruising in on your yacht, but we usually aren't.  Then there is tiny adorable Eze, perched up high on the cliff overlooking the sprawling coastal metropolis and vast Mediterranean sea.  It's a good fit for someone looking for a small village with good proximity to the sea.  We were looking for beautiful scenery and good restaurants at the right price (well, there isn't such a thing as the right price on the Riviera, but some are better than worse).  With these variables in mind, we narrowed it down to Villafranche-sur-Mer and Antibes.  As we had anchored in neighboring Cap-Ferrat on our last trip, we decided to change up the scenery and go for Antibes.  
Where to begin with Antibes? I have so many good things to say about this hidden gem.  I think the biggest advantage to Antibes is it's vantage point over the rest of the coast.  Jutting out on a peninsula overlooking Nice all the way down to Monaco, it makes for some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen.  With the Alps towering up in the background against the bright blue sea, the inherent beauty of this place would stop anyone in their tracks.

And then there is the old fortress village of Antibes, complete with medieval ramparts enclosing the tiny city.  (You can see it sticking out on the left in the picture above).  Looking across, behind the sailboat, you see Nice.  Further down to the right is Cap-Ferrat and Monaco, which you can catch a glimpse of from the lighthouse that towers over Antibes.  Another reason I was captivated by Antibes is because it is the only Riviera town I've seen with white sandy beaches.

Once you get over her sheer beauty, you quickly realize that the inside is just as good as the outside.  The old town is lined with restaurant after restaurant and it houses a great Picasso Museum in the old Grimaldi castle overlooking the water (he lived and painted in the old castle for several years).

If you do find yourself in Antibes, our favorite restaurant was Aubergine.  (Reserve in advance because it is tiny!)  The old town is also full of wine bars and great nightlife, so there is always plenty to do (even on a Sunday, which is when we arrived).

The Mr. was really loving the Absinth bar (which had a hat theme going on... I don't know, we just went with it).

And so comes the end to our weekend on the coast.  We have a little over a week left in Paris, which I really can't believe.  Mme. Grand is treating us to tea at the Bristol today as one last treat before we head out.  I can't believe this is going to be my last time to stroll down Rue. Faubourg St. Honore!!  The end is near.  Too near.  

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