The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur as it is known locally, runs from the French border with Italy in the east as far as Toulon in the west. As a holiday destination it has always had an air of sophistication since it became a popular destination amongst the British upper classes in the late 18th century. Over the years its reputation was enhanced by frequent visits by various members of some of Europe’s wealthiest families, members of Royal Families, Heads of State and a whole host of celebrated artists and writers.
Inevitably over the years the region’s exclusivity waned with the growth of mass tourism to the extent that the Côte d’Azur now attracts over 15 million tourists every year. The exclusive marinas with their multi-million dollar yachts and the plethora of Ferraris outside casinos are testament to the region’s continued popularity amongst Europe’s super-wealthy. But the majority of visitors nowadays are from more regular income brackets, attracted to the lovely beaches of the Riviera by its promise of 300 days of sunshine per year, its vibrant nightlife and an excellent selection of restaurants. A little over half of the total number of tourists to the region are French people, ensuring that the continuity of the Côte d’Azur’s unique ambience.
Juan-Les-Pins is located 28km south-west of Nice and 10km east of Cannes. Historically, it was simply a place where residents of neighbouring Antibes would go for an early evening stroll or have a picnic in the shade of the pine trees. Whilst these two towns lie just 2km apart they have, in reality, merged into one though their characters remain quite distinct. Antibes retains a feeling of exclusivity behind its ancient sea walls and within its exclusive marina whereas Juan-Les-Pins has taken a more commercial direction in becoming a popular holiday destination which attracts more than its fair share of the international jet-set.
Beaches: In spite of the lovely, but narrow, sandy beaches which extend the whole length of the coastline of Juan-Les-Pins there is a usually a shortage of space during the peak holiday season as a result of the sheer volume of visitors. The solution is to select one of the restaurants along the promenade which has its own beach space and rent sunbeds for the day. Outside the high season these same beaches are fairly quiet. The best beach along the coast of Juan-Les-Pins is La Grande Plage to the west.
Casino: Even if you’re not interested in gambling you can visit the restaurant inside the casino which is imaginatively called ‘Le Grill’. It has tables on a terrace overlooking the Bay and a fairly simple menu with prices fairly consistent with other mid-range dining options in the rest of Juan-Les-Pins. A visit here is a good way to get of glimpse of the casino without having to risk your holiday money.
Juan-Les-Pins hosts Europe’s oldest Jazz Festival every July which is known as ‘Jazz à Juan’. Regular tourism together with festival goers ensures that hotel rooms are hard to come by at that time and prices are at a premium. So either book early if that is your preferred time to visit or try to avoid the festival to ensure more availability. You can check the dates of the festival on their official website at http://www.jazzajuan.com/
Getting to Juan-Les-Pins
Most visitors to the French Riviera arriving by air will land at Nice’s Côte d’Azur Airport which lies 6km south-west of the city of Nice which is on the road towards Juan-Les-Pins. Whilst many airlines offer scheduled flights throughout the year to Nice it is easyJet who are most active with flights from many European cities where they operate. During the summer months there are additional services provided by many operators making the Côte d’Azur very accessible. The journey by road follows the A8 south from the airport and takes about 25 minutes to cover the 20km to Juan-Les-Pins. The other main airport of the region is Cannes-Mandelieu Airport to the south-west which also attracts significant numbers of arrivals.
The main ways to get from Nice airport to Juan-Les-Pins are as follows:
By Private Transfer: The most convenient transport option is to simply book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel with a specialist transfer company and have a driver awaiting your arrival.
By Taxi: There is plenty availability and fixed tariffs to all destinations. Currently prices to Juan-Les-Pins are around €80 each way depending on which hotel you’re staying at.
By Bus: There’s an express bus (number 250) which departs from outside the arrivals terminal every 35 minutes. It stops at the La Régence bus stop in Juan-Les-Pins. You cannot buy a ticket from the driver so be sure to get one from one of the ticket offices which are just outside the airport terminals. The popularity of this service leaves little space for luggage which has to be placed in a compartment below the cabin for collection on arrival.
By Train: There isn’t a train station at the airport but ‘Gare SNCF Saint-Augustin’ is only a short distance away and accessible by means of a free airport shuttle bus. This is by far the least convenient way of getting to your destination, especially if you’re carrying much luggage or are travelling with children.
Where to Stay in Juan-Les-Pins
Hotel Belles Rives (33, Boulevard Edouard Baudoin): Certainly one of the premier hotels of Juan-Les-Pins, this elegant 5-star property really lives up to its rating thanks to its beautiful rooms, professional staff and superb dining topped off with its superb setting which provides sensational views out to sea. Simply one of the finest properties around.
Sainte Valerie Hotel (Rue de l’Oratoire): Located in a quiet part of town, some 10 minutes stroll away from the beach and nightlife, this is a lovely 4-star hotel set in private gardens with a nice swimming pool. It has large, elegant rooms and includes an exceptional breakfast included in the room rate. Highly recommended as one of the most charming hotels in Juan-Les-Pins.
La Villa d’Elsa (17 Avenue Docteur Dautheville): There’s nothing luxurious about this 3-star option which is made up of a small number of independent apartments. However, the property is well located in a pedestrianised area in the centre of Juan-Les-Pins with ready access to the resort’s beach and nightlife. Rooms are clean and well looked after with small terraces and well equipped kitchenettes. Great choice for self-catering.