Antibes walking tour with Via Nissa

On Saturday 12th June, I had the great pleasure to join a walking tour of Antibes. I already know a lot about Antibes’ history including the buildings, museums, art and attractions so I was interested to join this tour and learn more.

Demand for the tour was incredible; the tour was 10x oversubscribed proving Antibes’ popularity with tourists and residents. So, I felt very fortunate to have a spot for the morning tour.

The tour was hosted by Via Nissa. Based in Nice, their team is comprised of historians, linguists and archaeologists who have specialist knowledge about archaeology, art, history, culture and language.

Our small group of 15 met in Antibes opposite Port Vauban with an estimated tour duration from 10am to 11.45am / midday. Prior to the tour, all communication with Via Nissa’s representative had been prompt and helpful.

The tour was conducted in French with English translation; participants could access the French commentary via an easy-to-use hands-free tour guide system and headphones that Via Nissa supplied. Note: The English commentary was via the Uniti app so participants needed to download the app in advance, register to use the app and have mobile Wifi. Participants used their own headphones if using the English commentary option.

Our walking tour of Antibes with Via Nissa

After initial introductions, we met the tour host (French language) – Alain Bottero, who is the archivist for Antibes. Alain has a vast experience as a conservateur and archivist in Antibes and the Alpes Maritimes, so his knowledge of Roman antiquities, archaeology, religious art and the history of Provence and Nice is impressive. Taking care of the English language translation on the day was Evgenia Mokhireva; Evgenia was the person who I dealt with leading up to the tour day and she was helpful, efficient and friendly.

Via Nissa : Antibes Tour Highlights

Even though I have lived in this region for many years, I still find that Antibes is a beautifully picturesque town to explore. As we walked around the Old Town, you stroll beside historic buildings, pass the Cours Massena local market selling Provençal goods and through paved back streets.

It is a ‘touristy’ town with a large expat and yachting community, yet there are parts of French lifestyle and culture here that are distinctly Antiboise – for example, the Safranier district have a quirky traditional ‘boules carrées’ competition each year on July 14 where they play boules in the local streets with square boules.

Some of the tour highlights included the Chapelle Saint Bernardin, the column at Place Nationale, Porte de l’Orme, the old wash house, the commune of Safranier, the city remparts, the Picasso Museum and more.

Chapelle Saint Bernardin

This is a spectacular small chapel in Old Town, tucked in off Rue du Docteur Rostan – most tourists would probably pass it by without knowing it was there!

Bernardin Albizeschi was born in the 14th-century in Tuscany, Italy, and entered the Miners brotherhood. He was ordained a priest in September 1404 and spent more than 25 years preaching in Italy, playing a great part in the religious revival of the early 15th-century. He died in Aquila in 1444 and was canonised in 1450 by Pope Nicolas V.

In the 15th-century, the activity of the White Penitent Brotherhood was strong. With their riches they built this chapel.

Features of Chapelle Saint Bernardin:

The Gothic facade on Rue du Docteur Rostan: On the side you can see the hooded penitents. Above the door is the representation of Lucifer’s head. The devil, as the Chimera, the king of serpents and the winged dragon has a tail, sharp claws and a menacing stare. He reigns over 3 worlds: underground, on earth and in the air and can only be vanquished by Saints. The dragon convulses and roars at the foot of the cross and is vanquished by saints and angels.

The altar: The centrally positioned altar features a 16th-century fresco portraying the Apostles table. The baroque twisted columns are decorated with flowers and gold leaf. You can see 3 Saints: Saint Roch, Saint Sebastian (patron Saints of Antibes) and Saint Bernardin of Siena.

The vaulted room: This room has a climate-controlled storage that contains Antoine Aundi’s painting entitled “The descent from the cross”.

The side door entrance: The chapel was built on Roman ruins and the solid walnut side door leading to Rue Saint Bernardin dates from March 1581; you can see the inscription in my photo below.

My favourite feature of this small chapel is the beautiful trompe l’oeil and star-studded ceiling. The trompe l’oeil has 4 evangelists around the outside: Saint Mathew (the angel representing Genesis (origin) of man), Saint John (the eagle, his evangelism starts with celestial mystery), Saint Mark (the lion who roars in the desert) and Saint Luc (the bull who symbolises the sacrificed priest and sacrificed cow). In the middle, the Virgin Mary with Christ and Saint Bernardin between them with Latin inscriptions about God and hope in virtue.

The column at Place Nationale

Napoleon, returning from the Island of Elba, landed in nearby Golfe Juan on March 1, 1815; the gates of the city of Antibes were closed to him, it was bombarded and associated with the Bourbon. Louis XVIII moved by the heroism of the city of Antibes took 90,000 Francs from his personal funds intended to repair the damage, and on March 20, 1816 he raised the city to the rank of the good cities of the kingdom “Fidei servandae exemplum 1815”. 

In gratitude, the city of Antibes erected this column to Louis XVIII. It’s made of Carrara marble and cost the sum of 5748 Francs.

Its pedestal is covered with four marble slabs, on each side: 
– the inscription of the ordinance of King Louis XVIII 
– the arms of France 
– the arms of the city of Antibes
– the inscription of the King “the conduct of the city of Antibes will never leave my memory.”

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the photos I had of the column but you can see it clearly at Place Nationale directly in front of the Musée Peynet.

Porte de l’Orme

The Porte de l’Orme and its towers is one of the best preserved parts of Antibes. Throughout the Middle Ages, the walls were maintained until they were reinforced by the Grimaldi lords in the late 16th-century. It was the first line of defence for the castle, now known at the Picasso Museum. The Porte de l’Orme has been historically listed since 1939 and along with the towers and walls it defines the old city limits.

The old lavoir (wash house)

Tucked in behind Rue de la Tourraque, the old lavoir (wash house) was one of three local wash houses where town residents came to wash their clothes. Of course, it was a meeting place too so no doubt there was some gossiping that went on! If you look closely at the walls surrounding the wash house there are small sculptures set into the stone work – angels, faces, hands – these were made by Ho Lui, a local sculptor who has an atelier on Rue James Close.

The commune libre de Safranier (the free commune of Safranier)

Safranier is a picturesque district in old town with flower-filled streets – lots of tourists head here to take Instagram photos particularly on rue du Bas Castelet and rue du Haut Castelet. Villa Fontaine is situated in Safranier where they have an artists in residence programme, and Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzaki used to live in this district (he was famous for writing Zorbas the Greek and ‘The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel’ which was his poem based on Homer’s Odyssey) – you can see a commemorative seat dedicated to him in Safranier with a famous motto from the Zorbas film: “I hope nothing, I fear nothing, I am free”.

Antibes remparts

The remparts stretch from the port in Antibes to Bastion Saint-Andre near Salis beach. The Bastion was built in 1698 by Vauban, it consists of two vaulted brick galleries surmounted by a vast paved terrace.  Historically listed in 1930, below is the Archaeology Museum that has a collection begun in the 15th-century, with 150 exhibits including ceramics, vases and mosaics, some dating back more than 2000 years.

In 1979, there was a collapse of the seabed off the coast of Nice which was simultaneous with the collapse of a dike at the Nice port end. The result was two mini tsunamis which hit the coastline; including at Salis beach in Antibes. The remparts remained undamaged.

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is one of the popular attractions of Antibes. Originally the ancient Château Grimaldi, it is now the first museum dedicated to Picasso. The collection, originally composed of paintings, drawings and ceramics left by the artist, also houses artwork from many other artists including Germaine Richier, Joan Miró, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung and Yves Klein.

Beside the Picasso Museum, you can see the beautiful Antibes Cathedral.

Fort Carré & Port Vauban

No visit to Antibes would be complete without wondering about the history of Fort Carré across from the town. The star-shaped fort is a historic monument and was one of the first fortified strongholds to be built in the Renaissance under the orders of the King of France, Henri II. It was used to guard the nearby border with the County of Nice and to defend the town of Antibes. Today, you can visit the fort by guided tours that can be arranged through the Antibes tourist office and it is open to the public during the Journées du Patrimoine (we didn’t visit Fort Carré on this particular tour, however there is a great view from the fortress ramparts over Port Vauban and across to old town Antibes).

One of the most surprising things I learned recently about Antibes was there used to be a sea plane base at Port Vauban in the 1920’s. Alain our tour guide knew about this of course – L’Aéronavale used to fly between Antibes and Corsica, passengers were so used to travelling by boat that flying was viewed as reckless. Putting the seaplanes into the water at Port Vauban wasn’t easy – they were transported on trolleys to the wharf where a crane lifted them into the water. You can see in the vintage photos below the seaplanes and cranes opposite Fort Carré, as well as the hangars that used to house them. This hangar area is now where the Antibes ferris wheel at Pré des Pêcheurs is located.

About Via Nissa

Based in Nice, France, Via Nissa, specialises in organising in-depth experiences for seasoned travellers, the local foreign community and their visitors: those who want to be in the Côte d’Azur not as a detached observer, but as hands-on participants seeking uncommon access. They also curate historical tours, taking their visitors beyond the spaces allocated to tourists, into a world typically available only to insiders. Their sixth-sense experiences take you back to the world of the Provence many recall from the movies… scenes of long leisurely lunches, fine wines and stimulating conversations.

Disclaimer: I was not sponsored to join this tour, nor am I an affiliate partner or salesperson for Via Nissa. This review is my own unbiased and honest account of the tour that I experienced. I highly recommend Via Nissa if you want a tour that immerses you in the history and culture of a destination.

Les Voiles d’Antibes 2016

The 21sth edition of the Voiles d’Antibes – Trophée Panerai started yesterday based until 5 June at Port Vauban, Antibes and marks the start of the first Mediterranean stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.

Les Voiles d'Antibes 2016 - Trophée Panerai

Les Voiles d’Antibes 2016 – Trophée Panerai

Why attend Les Voiles d’Antibes

The event has some magnificent classic yachts berthed in the port and racing the length of the coastline including yachts built pre-1950.

As well as the yacht racing a small village is set up at Bastion Saint Jaume with stands from Yacht Clubs, Selliers, Sailmakers, Photographers and yachting-related businesses.

In the evenings, the Village zone is a great place to enjoy free live music and buy a drink at one of the pop up bars.  The Friday night of Les Voiles d’Antibes is known as one of the best nights out in Antibes – I’ll be heading along to see Riff Tonic and Al and the boys from Blah Blah on Friday night so may see you there!

Les Voiles d’Antibes is free entry and a nice family-friendly event to admire some truly beautiful yachts (though I will add that in the evenings, after 8.30pm the crowd at the Village is large so bear this in mind if you have smaller kids to watch).

For a map of the event location, see below:

Les Voiles d'Antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes


For a programme schedule, visit the official Les Voiles d’Antibes website (in French only).


The car parks shown on the map above are usually very busy, especially the underground parking at Pré aux Pêcheurs opposite the port.  It’s crucial you check exit times for carparks to avoid lock-ins!   Alternative secure underground pay carparks not shown on this map are at Parking Poirier on boulevard Dugommier, or Parking avenue Frères Olivier click here for details of carparks in Antibes.

If you’re arriving by bus or train, it’s important to note that public transport after 9pm is quite limited and unfortunately there have been many strikes lately.  Check timetables for local buses at or for train times and information regarding strikes.  Taxis can be found outside the Antibes train station.


(image: Still Drone)

(image: Still Drone)

Great aerial photo here of the Voiles yachts last year berthed with the IYCA superyachts too.  This is the view looking toward Fort Carré.

The quays at Antibes Port and the entire Village site are on flat ground and accessible for families with baby strollers and persons with reduced mobility.  In this photo above, the brown area on the middle of the right is the bar zone (evening party zone!) and it should be noted this has one step up to the bar areas as it is temporary decking.

The onsite toilets are shown in the photo above as the rectangular building in the bottom middle right – these toilets are in trailers accessed by stairs only, therefore the closest accessible ground level toilets are on the quay near plage Gravette or at Café Felix by the first archway to the port and Antibes Old Town.


Antibes Lifeboat Open Weekend – 14-15 May

The Antibes Lifeboat is hosting an Open Weekend on Saturday 14 May and Sunday 15 May in Antibes at Port Vauban and plage Gravette.

The Lifeboat volunteers are on callout 24/7 and are all incredibly hard working and deserve as much support as possible.  I’d love them to get some more exposure as their roles and importance to many towns here is grossly underestimated especially with so much maritime recreation and coastal activities that take advantage of this great French Riviera climate.

yachting antibes

Antibes Lifeboat is a vital maritime rescue boat (image:

Typically, their call outs involve anything from towing stranded boats to cutting mooring lines from jammed propellers to saving lives by rescuing people from sinking vessels.

Unfortunately, a percentage of their work is unnecessary as recreational boaties or water sports enthusiasts head out on the water ill-equipped or without adequate training for navigational or communication aids and the Lifeboat gets called into action to save the day.  If it wasn’t for the Lifeboat, the outcome for many of these people would be dire, even fatal in some cases.

Fundraising for a great cause

Please drop by the Open Weekend in Antibes and show your support – it is family-friendly, both the Capitainerie Quay (where the Harbour Master’s Office is) and plage Gravette are flat and have plenty of room for baby strollers and afterwards the kids can play on the beach or grab an ice cream.

Personally, I’m putting a call out to all the expat Aussies and Kiwis who make up a huge proportion amongst the professional yachting community in Antibes.  Aussies and Kiwis are some of the most faithful and generous supporters of the lifeboat, however if your season is just starting and you can’t make the Open Weekend there are permanent donation boxes at various spots in Antibes Old Town including the Blue Lady Pub and Geoffreys of London, so donate the cost of one pint or your money for that jar of Vegemite and drop in your spare change as it all makes a difference.

Additionally, the Riviera Fitmums group are selling SNSM (French Lifeboat Service) identity bracelets with all proceeds going to the Antibes Lifeboat – they are superb for beach safety, school excursions, theme parks etc in case your little one wanders off.   Just €5 for 10 bracelets (a range of colours are available), I’ve ordered some for my son’s class.  To order some you can send an email to

I.D. bracelets are great for the beach, school excursions, etc - all proceeds to the Antibes Lifeboat

I.D. bracelets are great for the beach, school excursions, etc – all proceeds to the Antibes Lifeboat


All weekend from 10am-5pm at the Capitainerie Quay, there will be:

  • A stand selling drinks and merchandise with sales benefitting the Lifeboat and day-to-day operations
  • Raffles, including a mini raffle to win a trip on the Lifeboat outside of call outs
  • Music performances from the Chorale du SRA and Antibes Music School
  • Demonstrations of the life raft (after rescue demonstrations)
  • Possibility to look around the lifeboats tied up on the visitors quay next to the Capitainerie

Saturday 14 May

11am :  Esplanade de la Gravette – Rescue demonstration (transferring passengers)

2pm-4pm:  Esplanade de la Gravette – Helicopter visit from the French Naval Air Service (landing and take off visible from the remparts)

4pm:  Esplanade de la Gravette remparts – Demonstration of heli-winch in the sea

Sunday 15 May

11am :  Esplanade de la Gravette – In-water rescue demonstration (towing)

3.30pm:  Esplanade de la Gravette – Rescue demonstration (fire and man overboard)

4.45pm Lifeboat Stand – Raffle draw

Useful Links:


Facebook page:






Les Voiles d’Antibes : 3 June – 7 June 2015

The 20th edition of the Voiles d’Antibes – Trophée Panerai opened today at Port Vauban, Antibes and marks the start of the first Mediterranean stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.


Over 80 yachts will attend including vintage and classic yachts, and in addition to the yacht racing an annual Village is set up on the quay at Bastion Saint Jaume with stands from Yacht Clubs, Selliers, Sailmakers, Photographers and yachting-related businesses.

The Village turns into party central in the evenings when locals and tourists alike flock to the area to enjoy sunset drinks at one of the pop up bars accompanied by free live music from DJ’s and bands.

Les Voiles d’Antibes is free entry and a nice event to admire some truly beautiful yachts.

Les Voiles d'Antibes, Port Vauban, Antibes (

Les Voiles d’Antibes, Port Vauban, Antibes (

For a map of the event location, see below:

Les Voiles d'Antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes

Other tips

For a programme schedule, visit the official website (in French only):

The car parks shown on the map above will be extremely busy, especially the underground parking at Pré aux Pêcheurs.  It’s crucial you check exit times for carparks to avoid lock-ins!   Alternative secure underground pay carparks not shown on the map are at Parking Poirier on boulevard Dugommier, or Parking avenue Frères Olivier click here for details.

Public transport after 9pm is quite limited.  Check for local bus routes, or for train schedules.  Taxis can be found outside the Antibes train station.

Accessibility notes:  The port quays and entire Village site are on flat ground and accessible for families with baby strollers and persons with reduced mobility, however please note there is one step up to the bar areas in the Village as they install temporary decking.  The onsite toilets are accessed by stairs only, therefore the closest accessible ground level toilets are near plage Gravette or at Café Felix by the first archway to the port and Antibes Old Town.


Fundraising charity event on the French Riviera – Purple Pants Promenade

Coping with cancer in everyday life

Six months ago, my partner lost a family member to cancer. She was a vibrant, caring lady who was the cornerstone of a large family and is missed greatly by all.

The type of cancer she had is well-publicised by charities and advertising campaigns, but throughout the world millions of people are living daily with cancers that are not as prominent in the media.

Fund-raising and awareness is a huge component for charities

Locally, a new non-profit charity organisation – Purple Pants Promenade – has been created by two expats, Meg Burley and Bev Hill who are planning to support both a local and a UK-based charity.

Sign up for this charity event: Purple Pants Promenade (image: PPP)

Sign up for this charity event: Purple Pants Promenade (image: PPP)

Wellbeing of Women, is a UK-based charity dedicated to providing research and improving the health of women and babies. (their website is in English)

Défi de Femmes, based in Antibes and Le Cannet provides psychological support and beauty treatments to those suffering from feminine cancers. They aim to restore women’s confidence and self-image, allowing them to feel and look their best. (their website is in French)

Many Riviera businesses have already shown support for this initiative including:

The fundraising event also has the backing of the Mairie of Antibes and Antibes Athletics Club.

What is Purple Pants Promenade all about?

On Saturday 27 September, from 7pm-10pm they are holding a 3.5km charity walk in Antibes with proceeds going to the two charities.

The circuit will begin at the athletics track at Fort Carré and continue to Port Vauban before looping back to the Fort. You can complete the route once, or as many times as you like. The entire route is on flat ground so suitable for families with children, or wheelchair-bound participants.

The Purple Pants Promenade is open to all – adults (who will receive purple cycle shorts to wear to support the theme), and children (who will receive glow-in-the-dark purple bracelets).

Groups of business colleagues, yacht crew and sports teams are all welcome.

There will be entertainment during the evening at the athletics track, and prizes on the night for ‘most purple’ attire.

How do you register or donate?

There is an entry fee for the Purple Pants Promenade of €25 per adult, and €5 per child under 16 years and/or students; you can also be sponsored per kilometre or circuit completed.

  • For more information, visit their Facebook page here
  • To register for the charity walk or donate to this excellent initiative, the link is here

Further enquiries can be directed to Meg Burley (event organiser) Email: or Lizz Boardman (press/media)Email:

Please show your support by sharing this on Facebook, or retweet on Twitter. Thank you.

Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Antibes Yacht Show 2014)

Today, marks the first day of the annual Antibes Yacht Show staged at Port Vauban in Antibes, the largest marina in Europe.  The show runs from Wednesday 23 April – Saturday 26 April 2014.


Since it’s creation in 2007, Antibes Yacht Show has become the unmissable show in the Mediterranean. This most important exhibition at the beginning of the season allows professionals to present their products or services before the summer. Typical exhibitors can include companies for yacht finance, provisioning, naval architects, onboard electronics, interior decorators, yacht maintenance and cleaning and more.

The yachts for sale or for charter get the first exposure and last year, many yachts exhibited at the show received offers.  This year, the show organisers have decided to grant access to shipyards, giving them the opportunity to present their latest models before the season starts.


The show is also a great meeting point for crew at the beginning of the season. Antibes, being a major yachting hub in Europe, attracts crew from all over the world looking to embark on a yacht for the season.  There will be seminars to attend including Crew Excellence, VAT regulations and marine biodiversity. A Crew BBQ will be held this evening for new crew to make contacts, and established crew to share catch-ups with old friends while listening to live music and enjoying a few drinks.

Other points of interest include a Chef Lounge, Captain’s Dinner, VIP Lounge, Press Lounge.

I was surprised to find the show’s website does not have an online map of exhibitor locations at the show, but I’m assuming there are programmes available at the entrance for this information.  If I get my hands on one, I will post it to my blog.


By car: Antibes port can be accessed by either the A8 highway, or the D98 coastal road (bord de mer). There is carparking (pay parking) at the new underground port parking, or near Fort Carré with free shuttle buses running regularly from the carparks to the show.  Also, a free boat transfer departing from berth n°9035 (down from Fort Carré) to the entrance of the show.

By train:  Antibes Gare SNCF is a short 5-minute walk from the show location.  Exit the train station, cross the road at the traffic lights and walk down the road opposite the station (Avenue de la Libération).  Follow Avenue de Verdun straight ahead, and you will see the show entrance.

By bus:  Bus number 200 passes via Antibes. Stop name is ‘Passerelle’ and you can cross the rail overbridge and then follow directions as per above. Bus timetable is downloadable via this link 200

Accessibility:  The show site is on flat, paved ground at the Antibes port (Port Vauban). Last year, there were small steps to the bar and food areas so bear that in mind but from memory, 99% of the show is accessible to wheelchair-bound visitors.. An accessible public toilet (ground level) is near Plage de la Gravette, and also Félix Café through the first archway to the town has an accessible toilet suited for persons with reduced mobility.

When:  Wednesday 23 April – Saturday 26 April 2014, Port Vauban,  Antibes

Hours:  10am-7pm (Wed-Fri), 10am-6pm (Sat)

Entrance cost:  €15 per adult / Free for children under 16 years