Grey Skies, Picasso, and Big Boats on the Cote d’Azur: ANTIBES

Ah, yes, the Cote d’Azur. Cool, clean water, towns with long beaches lined with wide pedestrian promenades, and bright blue skies. Well, not always. Sometimes the skies are grey, especially in October when I came sauntering through. I don’t blame that on Antibes. And, sometimes, such as in Antibes, long beaches lined with pedestrian walkways are not the main focus although there are many beaches around. What Antibes does have though is what many say is the largest pleasure boat port in Europe, a vibrant Old Town, a wonderful Picasso Museum, and a nearby craggy and rocky cap (or peninsula) with a wonderful walking trail along the waterfront which takes the visitor out away from the noise and bustle of the city to a world of splendid sea views and sounds and smells.
For visitors, the main focus of Antibes, population 75,000, is its Old Town which, although it is next to the sea, is mostly cut off from it by a meandering tall and long medieval wall and ramparts originally built for protection from adversaries coming by way of the sea. Hugging the top of the ramparts is a narrow walkway with splendid views to the sea and surrounding areas. Overlooking the port area from atop the ramparts is an intriguing large modern sculpture of a human form formed by alphabet letters, a metaphor for the importance of the ability of people to communicate. Nearby, the main town market is located under a long open 19th Century iron canopy which converts to outdoor dining space for adjacent restaurants and cafes at night. At the highest point along the ramparts sits the Picasso Museum which is housed in an old Grimaldi Castle, formerly the home of the Grimaldi Family who once ruled portions of the coast and still rule over Monaco. Complete with a tall medieval tower the castle is a visual and physical landmark for the Old Town and the waterfront. The Old Town itself is mostly composed of narrow cobblestone lanes lined with shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. On the south end of Old Town just inside the ramparts is an old and charming residential neighborhood .
Just south of the Old Town, the Cap Antibes, a sizable peninsula of land that thrusts out into the sea and provides a haven for overly expensive mansions and villas with tall solid walls to keep out the public. Luckily, a thin strip of land around the Cap is reserved for all the people, and the people are rewarded with a finely hewn walkway that hugs the craggy and rocky waterfront. For a couple of hours, come here to escape the noise and hustle and bustle of the city and to experience the sight, sounds, and smells of the sea. The experience is sublime.

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