Antibes, France

Andrew and I looked at the calendar a few weeks ago and noticed a break in our work schedules in August. We immediately got on the Google flights map travel search engine, set our travel date parameters from Geneva airport and hit search to see what relaxing beach destinations would pop up. The cheapest and closest option Google recommended was to take a one hour easyJet flight down to Nice, France. We wanted to stay somewhere a little smaller than Nice, but still close-ish to the airport. Some TripAdvisor research lead us to the town of Antibes. The website introduction reads: “You could spend every day at the beach in Antibes and feel you’ve had a rewarding trip.” This was exactly what we were looking for and exactly how we spent our time in the beautiful Côte d’Azur … plus a side trip to Monaco 🙂

Thursday morning we arrived and checked into our HomeAway two bedroom apartment. The housekeeper let us drop our belongings off then we went off to have lunch while she finished cleaning. For lunch we wandered around and honestly just picked a place that looked good, finding ourselves at La Gravette where I had grilled prawns with grilled vegetables and a glass of Côtes de Provence white wine.

After settling into our apartment we stopped by the Monoprix to pick up some groceries, as we had planned to make breakfasts at the apartment. So, some fellow expats had alerted us that once you leave Switzerland, you would immediately notice how much cheaper things are. Well. They were right! I feel like we ran around the grocery store so excited about finding cheese and eggs for half the price we pay. And the wine! So cheap! But sooooo good. We have been adjusting to the higher prices in Switzerland just because it is how it is, but wow was it nice to go on vacation and feel like prices were more “reasonable” in comparison to our standards from the U.S.

Our Homeaway apartment building on Rue Thuret, right in the middle of old town Antibes.
A cute little street in old town Antibes
The closest beach to our apartment, Plage de la Gravette, view facing east towards Nice
Walking along the city walls along the water. The tower on the left is the Grimaldi castle where the Musée Picasso is held. These walls encircle the entire old town of Antibes.

Thursday afternoon we walked to Plage de la Salis, pictured below. The beach was packed with summer vacationers, but the water was crystal clear, it was warm out and the water was about 75°F. I’ll take it!

Thursday at Plage de la Salis

Thursday night we went out to dinner at Restaurant Aubergine, which we read about in the Rick Steve’s French Riviera guidebook we found in our apartment and that also had excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. Super delicious food and we were lucky to get a table without a reservation!

The marketplace in old town Antibes, which was a produce market by day and converted to a local artists market in the evening

Friday we spent the day at the beach. We went over to Juan-les-Pins and sat at Helios Plage, The beach setup there reminded me of one of the beaches on Santorini, where the beach is a one stop shop and you cannot access the beach without paying for a bed as it is all private. You pay for a bed and umbrella, there’s a restaurant on the beach and a server comes around to the beds to deliver drinks and snacks. Just what the doctor ordered. We stayed all day, read books, chatted, enjoyed the people watching (because let me tell you, it was entertaining!), took in the view and relaxed.

Friday at Helios Plage in Juan-les-Pins
Lunch on the beach at Helios Plage in Juan-les-Pins
Helios plage in Juan-les-Pins, facing west towards Cannes.

Friday night we had dinner at Les Vieux Murs, fulfilling my wish to eat dinner on the water. The service was absolutely incredible and the food and view matched.

Friday evening dinner gazing out at the Mediterranean at Les Vieux Murs

I love the idea of getting to see a new place while on a run. It is so great to get some exercise {to battle the large quantities of wine, amazing French bread and cheese we are downing} while also having the opportunity to see an area faster than you would walking around. Saturday morning we got up, laced up our running shoes and headed out with a destination of the Cap d’Antibes. Our initial plan to run in and take the bus back from the tip of the peninsula was shot down when we realized the bus only comes once an hour, on no particular schedule and we had a feeling we missed it. So, we continued on, ran around the entire peninsula and ended up in Juan-les-Pins, where we knew we could hop on a bus to get back to our apartment. The running route was so gorgeous and we were so glad we did it and took the opportunity to see that part of Antibes. A true rave run!

Our 5 mile Saturday morning run around the Cap d’Antibes. Reminded me a lot of the 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach, CA in that there were tons of runners, cyclists and joy riders out to enjoy the views from the road around the peninsula.

Saturday afternoon we hopped on a 1 hr train headed to Monte-Carlo, Monaco. The principality definitely lead up to its glamorous reputation, we saw way more million dollar cars and unbelievably massive yachts than I have ever witnessed in one place in my life. We walked up to see Prince Albert’s palace and toured around the sites in Monaco-ville, which to be honest, was all very nice and very well kept up. It is clear that the principality makes it a point to keep their streets clean and the gardens looking nice, but I was not overly impressed. Sorry to disappoint others if your experience in Monaco was something more!

There were two places I did think were awesome. We went to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. It was by far the coolest acquarium I have ever been to, and I would even say that it may be better than the Monterey, CA aquarium because it had a wider variety of fish from all over the world. It was also really well laid out, and had touch screens at almost every tank where you could switch the language to learn information about the creatures in the tank such as where it is from, what it eats, etc. Super nice and I would definitely recommend it if you plan on stopping in Monaco. Second, the Casino de Monte Carlo was super cool. You have to pay EUR 10 to enter and present a photo ID, but it is SO gorgeous. Paintings on the walls, golden gilded molding on the walls, chandeliers, wow it was beautiful. We went in around 5:30, so the casino floor was dead and there was only one each of the blackjack and roulette tables open. Andrew played a quick spin of roulette just for fun (a winner!), but otherwise we bought one drink, looked around then left. The casino is the smallest I have ever been to, and clearly not where you would go to spend a night of gambling, maybe you would if you go to the private room with higher minimums but I am not in that category! Afterwards we walked over to the Sun Casino below the Hotel Fairmont Monte Carlo. We played a little blackjack, where I managed to lose my personal limit within about 30 minutes. Whoof. Andrew won a little, so let’s be happy for him. Afterwards, before catching the train home to Antibes, we had dinner in Monte-Carlo at the L’Escale restaurant.

Our Saturday trip to Monte Carlo, Monaco. Top is a view of the city and marina. Bottom left: The Casino Monte-Carlo; Bottom middle: streets in Monoco-ville; Bottom right: Cathédrale de Monaco.

Sunday morning we woke up to rain. We took the morning slow, enjoying espresso drinks and a croissant under an awning at a local café. Luckily, the rain cleared and it turned into a nice day with partly cloudy skies. We headed to the closest beach, Plage de la Gravette, with our last bottle of French red wine, glasses dug into the sand and hung out for a our last couple hours in France. Not a bad way to end the trip!

Last day on the beach at Plage de la Gravette