Antibes is one of my favourite places in France. It is where my yachting career started and returning every year brings nothing but good memories for me. The yachting industry is still relatively small so there are a couple of yachting hubs that most of the crew spend their time in. Antibes, France, Palma, Mallorca, and Fort Lauderdale, USA to name but a few. Whenever I’m in Antibes though, I feel like I’m home again. French food, French men and plenty of cheap Rosé mmm. Nowhere beats it!
The open-air markets in the South of France really stand out for me more than anything and I’m always so excited to go back. The escargot in my picture is from a small bistro that in the market in Antibes. The rosé is cheap, the meals are always delicious, you really can’t ask for more than that. This particular night there were couples dancing drunkenly under the canopy as well as an artist painting a beautiful landscape only a few metres away.
Nice is my favourite place to stay in the area because the hotels are better value for money. You can find a fairly decent three star hotel for just €60/night with good internet a comfy bed and no ghosts (unlike Antibes shudder). It’s also really easy to get to Monaco, Cannes, Antibes, San Tropez and La Ciotat by Train from here too.
I would usually recommend driving from town to town in most countries because it gives you more freedom but the South of France is an exception. They have a really great public transport system set up. The World knows the French love a good strike, however, traveling around there has never been an issue for me.
Dishes you MUST try when you are here are the classics done well. Steak Tartare (yes raw beef.. get over it!), Escargot, Moules Frites, Grilled Sardines and anything you like dipped in the most sumptuous garlicky aïoli you can imagine. I can’t get enough of it.
A trip here without visiting at least a couple of markets would be a complete waste of a time. The vendors sell only the best Chevre, Saussicon Sec, Tapenade and Fougasse. Enjoy a bottle of rosé on a sheltered rocky beach with some nudists and a sunset and you are likely to never forget it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Yachtie or a Billionaire to afford a trip here as everyone thinks. There are some really good deals to be had. Most bistros will have set lunch menus which will include an entree, main and dessert. They always have a local specialty available within the menu if not all the dishes. Gotta love the proud Frenchies with their Michellin Star Chefs and huge egos. They do know food and I think they have every reason to be proud of their country and it’s delicious treats.
For the best nightlife head to JLP (Juan les Pins) to the eccentric nightclubs. If you’re a wannabe Yachtie and want to do some networking head to the infamous Hop Store in Antibes for a bottle of Rose or three. Just make sure you finish off your night (quite literally) in the Absinthe Bar. This is by far the coolest bar in town. You can sample Absinthe from all over the country served in the traditional way with a sugar cube (sadly without the hallucinogenic from days past) while playing dress ups in fabulous hats.
Do not stay in Biot. Do not be enticed by the cheap deals going in this dump. It’s the asshole of the South of France and is to be avoided at all costs. Only bogan backpackers stay here. The beach is terrible and even the train driver won’t stop there if it doesn’t suit him. It’s a shithole.
There is the most amazing English Bookstore in Antibes (Antibes Books) that has a collection of some of my all time favourite Chefs. They always have their finger on the button of all the hottest food trends. You can find Heston Blumenthal, Nobu, Ferran Adria and Gordon Ramsey’s latest here as well as locally famous cooks and regional dishes. They are super friendly and have a great selection of all kinds of other genres as well.
Did I mention the food? I guess I go to the South mostly to eat. Obviously there are more than a few ‘must try’ items here so please have a Croque Monsieur and a Croissant made with real butter. It will change the way you view a simple sandwich forever. Enjoy!