On the last day of a trip, I have a tendency to revisit the places I’ve been to check if I missed anything – and Antibes was no exception. It turned out there was rather a lot we’d missed, including a spin on the big wheel, and it would have been pretty tragic if we’d left without seeing this view …
Even with the unpredictable weather we experienced on the last day – blue skies one minute, dark clouds the next – looking out over the higgledy-piggledy rooftops was quite lovely. Trying to pick out our apartment building was impossible.
Of course, looking in the other direction gives quite a different view …
See those little figures on stilts down at the bottom? We visited during an open-air exhibition featuring the work of sculptor Nicolas Lavarenne, whose astonishingly detailed bronzes were on display in various places around the old town. Dancing on the ramparts, precariously suspended above our heads, guarding the gates … yes, there was no escape from the athletic figures reminding me that I’d probably better not have another gelato …
But it’s not easy to say no in Antibes, especially when you’re accompanied by a small person – and when it is sculpted into a rose for you …
Although if you’re not in the mood for ice cream, there’s always this place, Atelier Jean-Luc Pelé. Which, by the way, has an actual CHOCOLATE CAVE where you can sit and eat your treats. And also a chocolate fountain wall. I’m just saying. They make a cracking sandwich, too.
Sweet tooths amply satisfied, we took a wander across the square and tried not to drip our ice creams over the shiny, pretty things at the Saturday flea market.
I’m not sure the chap with the rail of vintage fur coats was doing much trade in the sweltering humidity … but I found myself eyeing up a few quirky ceramics and arty pieces with which to decorate my imaginary Antibes apartment.
Although that dream remained elusive, there’s nothing like a little window shopping. So we wandered off into the labyrinthine tangle of narrow streets and winding alleyways in search of pretty shutters and secret courtyards that we could perhaps one day call home.
I think this pink house with blue shutters and that gorgeous little wrought-iron balcony might have been my favourite.
When you really begin to look, there are a thousand adorable details to discover – every turn brings a new surprise.
Whole buildings shrouded in a glossy, verdant coat of ivy.
Tiny shrines in crumbling walls.
Time-worn statues sharing secrets.
Even a beautiful wedding party on the steps of the cathedral. And here’s a fun thing we learned this day: in this part of the world, they don’t throw confetti as the bride and groom leave the church – they throw handfuls of dried lavender. So the streets around the cathedral were perfumed all afternoon, as the little flower heads between the cobbles were warmed by the sun overhead.
Deciding that it was probably bad form to crash a wedding wearing flip flops, we set off to see what else we could find.
In all honesty, I don’t think there is a single street in old Antibes that doesn’t present an Instagram opportunity.
But as you’re wandering, make sure you don’t disturb the neighbours.
And keep looking out for the little things that make a place truly unique. I’ve mentioned before how Antibes has long been a haven and inspiration for artists of all kinds, so it shouldn’t be surprising that you will find art just about everywhere.
Even in the cracks of the walls.
Once I’d spotted one of these ethereal figures, I saw them all over the place.
I found them really fascinating, but I have not been able to turn up any information on the artist or artists responsible – so if anyone out there happens to know, please tell me!
All roads in Antibes eventually lead to the sea. Which is just as well, because we were starting to feel a little hot and bothered – a splash of sea spray was just the tonic we needed.
Sitting on the rocks and feeling the wind on our faces and the waves lapping at our ankles, gazing out at the yachts in the bay. Wondering if we’d ever be rich enough to own one ourselves.
But our itchy feet soon wouldn’t let us stay still for long.
Because there wasn’t much of the day left to enjoy before we needed to head for the airport. So we took a last stroll through the medieval streets …
… waving to the fresh-faced tourists on Le Petit Train …
… gazing enviously at people relaxing in pavement cafés …
… and found ourselves back at the cathedral, where the last of the lavender had been swept away from the steps.
Until next time, Antibes.