I hadn’t been to the Cote d’Azur for years. I had decided years back that I loved Provence and I avoided the French Riviera like the plague.
I think I felt that the beaches were not all that pretty, and it was just too crowded in the summer months. Living in California, I must admit that I am quite spoiled by beautiful beaches. So this summer when I decided finally to take my teenage kids to the Riviera I did my research. I knew of the grand hotels like the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat and Hotel du Cap Eden Rock. I spent two nights in the ‘Grand Lady’ in Cap-Ferrat on my honeymoon. My lovely mother gave my husband and I two nights there as a wedding gift. Earlier in my life, I spent days at the pool at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, doling out twenty Euros to sit on a beach mat by the pool.
Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc
Today these grand hotels are way out of my budget. So are most things in the Riviera. I had to figure out a way to enjoy the area without spending a fortune. The problem is I’m spoiled. I have traveled a lot. As a kid my father took me all over the world, and the motion picture studios he worked for would put us up in the most amazing places. Then I worked for The Travel Channel and I flew for free and stayed in some equally spectacular places. I wasn’t going to let my pocketbook get in the way I liked to travel. This meant doing my homework. I spent months figuring out this trip. It became an obsession. And it paid off!
I finally settled on Antibes for the first part of our vacation. I have stayed in Cannes and Nice and knew that these weren’t right. Antibes, which is situated between Cannes and Nice, seemed to have the right feel of charm and sophistication that I was looking for.
And then I stumbled upon a little hotel called La Place that was right on the edge of Vieil Antibes–the old town of Antibes. And it is close to the sea.
La Place Hotel and Restaurant
The reviews seemed too good to be true. I was skeptical. We booked two rooms. Our room was 120 Euros a night and the boys’ room was 130 Euros. For 250 Euros we had two rooms with lovely linens on the beds, air conditioning that was the perfect temperature, double pane windows, and a very modern bathroom. It was lovely. There is no lobby but there is a small restaurant that fronts the hotel. It could not have been a better choice.
Literally around the corner you stumble on the most lovely old town with amazing restaurants, boulangeries, bars, and even a covered market every day in the summer months. The fresh spices and olives looked amazing.
And it was a short stroll to the beach.
Because the rooms were affordable we could spend the days renting lounge chairs and umbrellas at some of the sleekest beach clubs on the Riviera. Remember you can have lunch and reserve lounge chairs and umbrellas. In the summer months be sure to book ahead.
Plage Keller is well known for its yellow umbrellas and wonderful setting. We loved it.
La Belle Rives is another hotel on the opposite side of Antibes in a small seaside town called Juan les Pins, but this hotel was too expensive for us–instead we spent the day at their resort. Perfect!
The ramparts that surround old Antibes are really beautiful. The stunning antiquity is complimented by a modern sculpture created by Catalan artist Juame Plensa– Nomade. This man of made up of letters looking over the Mediterranean Sea was a nice place to stop and enjoy the surroundings–I mean each other!
Three restaurants are worth mentioning in this post and again I did my research. Les Vieux Murs sits right on the ramparts of old Antibes overlooking the glorious sea. It is a picture perfect location and the food is wonderful though not inexpensive. We sat outside on the patio but the interior of this restaurant is pretty special as well. But how can you pass up an opportunity to sit in an ancient ruin overlooking the Mediterranean eating glorious French food?
To off set the price of this lovely jewell of a restaurant we ate a baguette with ham and cheese and a perfectly ripe tomato for lunch.
Anjuna Bay in Eze Bord de Mer was one of the most unique dining experiences of my life. And I have had many. I think its location on the sea, I mean literally on the pebbled beach below the lovely hill town of Eze, makes it unforgettable. The atmosphere is totally cool, music playing and incredible design surrounding you, and the hippest people I have ever seen in one place. To say it’s a bitch to get to is an understatement. But go anyway. Get lost like we did. And enjoy Anjuna Bay! It is also a beach club by day.
The third restaurant, La Taverne du Safranier, sits in a charming square in the heart of old Antibes. I don’t know if it was because it was our first evening in Southern France or because the food was so good, but I was happier sitting in this tiny square than I have been in a long time. The shrimps were the biggest I had ever seen. The fish was delicious and the portions huge. If on a budget, share!
Now not only can’t I wait to get back to Antibes, I am considering moving there!