Antibes Serves Up French Riviera Glamour, Sans Crowds

A luxe resort city that’s still low-key? Oui.

antibes travel guide

A trip to the South of France is the stuff of summer vacation fantasies. Cut to you drinking a crisp glass of rosé on a sun-drenched stone terrace with sea views. And while Saint-Tropez and Cannes have come to define a ritzy Côte d’Azur holiday, there are still plenty of lesser-known towns along the scenic stretch of Mediterranean coastline (as well as some lesser-known gems like Mougins if you’re open to exploring a bit further inland — which I highly recommend). Beyond its marquee coastal destinations, the French Riviera brims with beautiful little towns that serve up a slice of seaside sophistication without the suffocating summer crowds — and often for a fraction of the cost.

Tucked between Cannes and Nice, Antibes has plenty of posh attributes — some of the largest yachts in the region dock at the Port Vauban marina, magnificent villas dot the Cap d’Antibes peninsula, and sybarites decamp to the exclusive Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc — but it's decidedly more low-key and less pretentious than its fancier French Riviera neighbors. Surrounded by 16th century ramparts​, its attractive, stone-clad Old Town ​is replete with cozy bistros, wine bars, and boutiques. Cultural attractions include the Picasso Museum and the star-shaped Fort Carré​, while Juan-les-Pins ​offers beaches and nightlife. If you’re looking for a luxe yet easygoing Côte d'‘zur escape, Antibes is the ideal spot. Here’s how to plan the perfect trip.

Where To Stay


Perched on the tip of the leafy Cap d’Antibes peninsula, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, part of the Oetker Collection, is fabled for its manicured gardens, rock-framed infinity pool, Dior Spa, and impeccable service. The epitome of exclusivity and seaside glamour, the luxury legend has lured artists, celebrities, and European glitterati for decades. Everyone from the Kennedys to the Kardashians has stayed at the five-star grande dame throughout its illustrious history. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to see Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway (the latter most likely at the bar). Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan famously spent time canoodling in the private cabanas. Last summer, A-listers came out in droves for the lavish wedding of Sophia Richie and Elliot Grainge.

The term “barefoot luxury” gets tossed around a lot, but Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel very much falls into that category. A relaxed retreat for discerning sun-seekers, the property presents a sublime opportunity to lounge under pretty pink umbrellas right on the sand and bliss out in the pool with hydromassage jets. Stylish interiors give off modern meet meets retro vibes and the thoughtful service takes a stay to the next level.

At a lower price point, though certainly not lacking in panache, Hôtel La Villa Cap d’Antibes welcomes guests with warm hospitality and a more contemporary aesthetic. Rooms feature light wood floors, crisp linens, tropical touches, and either a balcony or terrace. There’s also an outdoor heated pool that’s open from mid-May to mid-October and a single treatment cabin for blissful massages.

Where To Play


During a summer holiday in the South of France, playing typically translates to catching rays and sipping rosé by the water. The hive of seaside activity in Antibes buzzes around Juan-les-Pins. In this resort-y part of town, visitors will find sandy beaches, a seafront promenade, and plenty of upscale spots to spread out.

In comparison to the exclusive beach clubs of Saint Tropez, the coastal haunts on this sun-kissed stretch of the French Riviera still feel upscale but a lot more laid-back. Hélios Plage is a chic beachside retreat for basking in the sun or lazing under shaded lounge chairs, sipping bubbly, and savoring fresh seafood in a chill environment. When the sun goes down, the area turns up with cocktail bars and nightclubs.

Of course, Juan-les-Pins isn’t the only place for a beach day or a refreshing dip. At Plage du Ponteil, a 10-minute walk from the center of Antibes, Parisians escaping balmy summers in the city and travelers from around Europe roll out towels on the sand and wade into the ocean. For a more full-service setup, Royal Beach rents sunbeds, umbrellas, and even towels on the sand or private dock steps from the waves. Guests can also order food and drinks. All you have to bring is a swimsuit and SPF.

Where To Sightsee


Antibes brims with history and charm. Its compact Old Town invites visitors to get lost wandering through the warren of cobbled streets, shopping for breezy linen dresses at the boutiques, and stopping for lunch at one of the al fresco eateries.

Encircling the character-filled area, the star-shaped Fort Carré is a 16th century bastioned fortification. Historic value aside, the sweeping views of Antibes, Port Vauban marina — where some of the largest yachts in the French Riviera dock — and the sparkling Baie des Anges are not to be missed.

Housed in Grimaldi Castle — the former residence of the Monegasque family that was later transformed into a museum and workshop where Pablo Picasso produced numerous paintings and drawings — Musée Picasso displays many works created by the prolific artist. History buffs will appreciate the collection of Ancient Roman artifacts at the seaside Musée D’archéologie D’Antibes.

As photogenic a destination as anywhere in the South of France, the Cap d’Antibes peninsula beckons tourists to go on scenic strolls, admire the magnificent villas, and soak in the panoramic vistas. Travelers looking to get closer to nature and work up a sweat can hike the coastal trails and footpaths.

Where To Eat & Drink


Start the day at Marché Provençal, a traditional covered market full of vendors selling everything from seasonal produce and spices to fresh-baked baguettes and olive tapenades. Fans of baked goods should hit up Boulangerie Veziano, a third-generation family-owned bakery that’s famed for its pissaladière (a traditional Provençal bread topped with caramelized onions) as well as croissants and other tempting pastries.

Have a hankering for beautifully presented risotto, beetroot ravioli, and roasted Mediterranean fish? Lunch or dinner on the cobbled terrace at Le P’tit Cageot is a must. Bottles of wine line the walls of Jeanne. Patrons cram into the compact eatery to sample locavore-driven share plates and swirl more than 300 different vins. L’île Bleue is a chic wine bar that’s perfect for an aperitif, light dinner, or digestif. The staff will help suggest an interesting glass or bottle to pair with food or just enjoy on its own. With any luck, you might be able to snag one of the high-top tables on the cobbled lane for prime people watching alongside palate-pleasing pours.

Even if you aren’t staying at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, it’s definitely worth making a reservation at its elegant Eden-Roc Restaurant to savor Mediterranean cuisine alongside sweeping panoramas of azure waves. For a special gastronomic experience, book a table at Michelin-starred Louroc Restaurant.