Bienvenue à Antibes!

We have now taken our first French vacation, and I’d say we picked a rather delightful destination – the French Riviera.  What took us there?  Well, to meet up with the one and only Anne as she toured through Monaco/Antibes/Paris with her friend, Jen.

While many folks think it’s the cheapest to drive and/or train-it around France/Europe, I’m here to tell you the European discount airlines (HOP, EasyJet) are quite amazing and insanely cheap.  We’re talking Southwest Airlines from 10 years ago cheap.  With that said, we knew we’d only have the weekend, so we opted to fly.  Left Toulouse on a 7:30am flight, landed in Nice around 8:30am, and caught a bus (#200 for 2 euro) to Antibes.

Notice I called out the 2 euro fee.  If anyone is taking notes, do NOT take the #200 bus from Nice to Antibes.  It’s a local bus and makes lots of stops.  I believe Antibes is only about 17-20 miles away from Nice, but it takes about an hour to get there by bus…and the bus is VERY crowded (think San Francisco MUNI rush hour).

By 10:30am we were in Antibes, drinking rose, and enjoying a nice charcuterie and cheese plate (see below).  There’s a great market (Le Marché Provençal) with tons of fresh produce, spices, cheeses, and fresh flowers.  We ended up eating at a little wine bar that might’ve been Italian (they had lots of Barberas & Nebbiolos – yum) where our waiter kept leaving to buy fresh options from the market (like oysters for the table next to us).   Essentially, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a late (partly cloudy) morning with Jim.

After “breakfast” we did a little touring around the town while we waited for the Picasso Museum to re-open from lunch (2pm).  The clouds started to part as we neared 2pm, as you can see in the photos from the Picasso Museum (below).

Picasso spent 6 months in 1946 living, painting, sculpting in this former Grimaldi château/castle, drawing on inspiration from the sea, surrounding land, etc.  Many of the works created here were donated to the museum and ultimately this was the first museum dedicated to Picasso and houses 245 works by the artist.

Jim’s favorite was the Tête de faune, while I favored more of the ceramics, scupltures, and black & white photography of Picasso while he was completing the art in the castle.  I’d never seen most of this work and found it to be rather interesting/different.  We also wanted this photo, but they weren’t selling it in the Giftshop (I also thought Genevieve would love it!).  Picasso apparently nursed that owl back to health and then painted it.

After the Picasso museum, we checked into our hotel and got a little cleaned up and touched base with Anne (our hotel was quite nice, next to the bus station.  Best part – it had air-conditioning.  I can’t even think of the last time I slept in a room with air-conditioning!), then made our dinner reservation and explored a little more before meeting up with Anne for some rose on the terrace near Le Marché Provençal.

Our dinner was quite tasty – lots of treats from the sea as well as the land, and the company was outstanding.  It was such a treat to see a good friend in our new country (nothing beats a good meal/drink/conversation with a close friend).  We hope the French phrases we taught them serve them well this week in Paris.

All in all, I’d go back to Antibes, but next time, I’ll take a bathing suit.

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