The chic resort town of Antibes on the French Riviera has served as an important trading post since it was settled by the Ancient Greeks in 340 BC. As a natural, deep water harbour it was an important port for the Roman Empire and in the 14th century became a prized possession of the powerful Grimaldi family. Today the Port of Antibes is the main attraction for first time visitors due to the sheer size and number of mega-yachts which are docked there during the summer months.
Beyond the ostentatious world of the marina is a delightful Old Town with a Mediterranean flavour where many reminders of the rich history of Antibes can be found alongside an important Picasso Museum. Cruise ship passengers wishing to discover more of what the region has to offer can easily do so during a day in port thanks to an excellent public transport network or by means of official shore excursions.
Port of Antibes
Port Vauban in Antibes can cater for a limited number of smaller, luxurious cruise ships which can dock in close proximity to some of the world’s most expensive yachts. However, most ships will drop anchor offshore and tender passengers to Quai Julien Baudino on the eastern side of the harbour. All the local sights are easily accessible on foot from the port.
Transport to Antibes from Nice Airport
Passengers and crew meeting up with cruise ships or private yachts in Port Vauban will most likely be arriving in France through Nice Côte d’Azur Airport which lies just 15km to the north-east. Bus number 250 from the terminal is an express service to Place Général de Gaulle in Antibes. Otherwise new arrivals can take bus number 99 from the airport to ‘Gare de Nice-Ville’ train station from where there are regular services heading west to ‘Gare d’Antibes’.
A far more convenient option for travellers laden with heavy bags is to pre-book a private transfer from Nice Airport to Antibes. Services are available directly to Port Vauban or to any accommodation along the Côte d’Azur.
Getting Around in Antibes
From the tender pier cruise ship passengers can easily walk into the Old Town which overlooks the port from the south. The Petit Train d’Antibes has long been a popular way for tourists to see the local sights and head across to Juan-les-Pins. However, it is currently out of service due to building work taking place around Rue de la République. Hopefully it will be back in action soon.
For heading further afield there are local bus services serving Juan-les-Pins and a regional service to Cannes (#200) in the west and Nice in the east. Train services from Gare d’Antibes (Place Pierre Semard) run along the coast in both directions.
Main Tourist Attractions
The main attraction of Antibes is Port Vauban itself which is home to Europe’s largest marinas. With berths for almost 1700 yachts this is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive fleets of privately owned vessels. The highlight for many visitors is to see Billionaires Row where the biggest and most expensive yachts can be found. Amongst these is the $600 million ‘Dilbar’ which is owned by the Russian billonaire Alisher Usmanov and is the world’s largest yacht. Unfortunately, visitors are no longer allowed to walk right up to these super-yachts due to the security measures in place but the enormity of them means they’re not difficult to see from a distance.
Having wandered around the port and pondered how the other half live it’s time to head into the Old Town of Antibes and discover what else it has to offer. A gentle 10-minute walk beyond the 10th century city walls leads to the cathedral of Notre Dame de la Platea (1 Rue du Saint-Esprit) which is the town’s most impressive religious building. Also worth a look is the adjoining church of Notre Dame de l’Immaculée Conception whose origins can be traced back to the 10th century.
Next stop is the nearby Musée Picasso which is housed in the Château Grimaldi. The Spanish artist lived here briefly in 1946 and donated some of his paintings to the museum. In later years his wife bequeathed additional works to the collection making it one of the world’s most important Picasso museums.
Walking inland from the old town walls leads to the Marché Provençal (Cours Masséna) covered food market which sells a vast selection of fish, meat, cheese, ham and vegetables. Visitors can buy fresh produce for a picnic lunch or grab a seat at one of the nearby cafés. A little further along the ramparts to the south is the Musée d’Archéologie (Bastion Saint-André) which houses an impressive collection of artefacts from the region dating back to prehistoric times.
Shore Excursions Beyond Antibes
Once the main attractions of Antibes have been exhausted it’s time to head out of town to take a look at the Cap d’Antibes. Lying just south of the Old Town, this forested peninsula is home to some of the region’s finest beaches located around the glitzy resort of Juan-les-Pins. The local Envibus services are a good way to discover the area by public transport.
Just 13km south-west of the tender pier is Cannes which is famous worldwide for its annual film festival. Outside the month of May when the festival takes place it is a regular holiday resort attracting a large number of national and international tourists. Highlights of the town include the old fisherman’s quarter of Le Suquet and the Boulevard de la Croisette which overlooks the Mediterranean and is lined with luxury hotels, casinos and boutique stores. Bus number 200 is a handy way to get there otherwise there are frequent train services from Gare d’Antibes.
This train station is near the port and is on the main railway line running along the coast. This provides a convenient way for cruise ship passengers to discover other destinations along the Côte d’Azur such as Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Monaco.
About Shuttle Direct
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