Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Traditional festivals 20 and 21 July)

This coming weekend there are two local traditional festivals to attend. One is held in a small commune in Antibes old town; the other in a local suburb of greater Antibes so they will both be community-based but have different feels. My pick is to visit the Fontonne festival on the Saturday as it is more family-friendy, then for a more adult-orientated event wander past the grand ball in Safranier on Saturday night. Sunday event programme as per below.


This free annual festival was reignited after the end of the first world war when local gardeners felt there was peace and they should have a reason to celebrate and share in a day of feasting. They chose Marie-Madeleine as the patron of gardeners, and the statue lies in the local church all year until the time of festivities (the actual date is 22 July but it is celebrated on the preceding weekend) when it is displayed in front of the church as a boat where local gardeners give flowers as offerings.
Here is the programme for this weekend, festivities take place at place Jean Aude in quarter Fontonne, Antibes:
Saturday 20 July
9am: Treasure hunt by teams from the local area.
10am: Competition of the best ‘pan bagnat’ on the coast. Display of old motorbikes and tours of the square in sidecar or on Harley motorbikes. Pony rides for children. I have been trying to find out if the sidecar/Harley/ponyrides are at cost to no avail so expect that you have to pay a small fee.
2pm: Pétanque competition
4pm: Jimmys Band from Nice
6pm: Prizegiving for the treasure hunt, aperitif, folk dances and music from a Portugese folk group, dinner and dance.
Sunday 21 July
10am: Mass at St-Joseph church
11am: Distribution of roses from Antibes growers
11.15am: Procession through the local streets with folk group
12pm: A shared drink with festival goers

I have been trying to source the history behind this festival but have not had much luck. Perhaps it is just a party for the sake of it! anyhow, if I do find out the background for these celebrations and the significance of the date I will blog it. Anyhow, here is the programme, all festivities held in the square by the tavern in Safranier:
Saturday 20 July
10pm: Grand ball – music, dancing, drinking (free for music and dancing but buy your own drinks from the tavern – I also recall locals bought their own wine along and no one seemed to care)
Sunday 21 July
12pm: Apéritif for all attendees
7pm: Degustation of the famous pesto soup
Note: Sunday is at cost and tickets can be purchased at the time of event

Bonne fêtes!

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