Walking Antibes to Juan-les-Pins
As I mentioned in a previous post, Antibes turned out to be one of my favorite places on the Riviera, and on my last visit, I went to walk the Cap d’Antibes peninsula from Antibes to Juan-les-Pins. The weather was perfect; sunny, warm, and just gorgeous. After a delicious breakfast in old town, I took off on my walk.
I started at the Archaeological museum and walked along the sea, just letting the road take me wherever it was going. The views were amazing, and I passed beaches, small coves, and little surprises along the way.
A bit further down the road, I came across some steps leading down to the sea. I went down and at the bottom was the most gorgeous, crystal clear sea glass-green water. The movement of the small waves created an almost stained glass window-effect that was absolutely mesmerizing. At that point, it was starting to get really hot, and the water was so cooling just to look at that I ended up staying there for a while, shooting and watching the patterns come and go.
Eventually, I climbed back up and kept walking, and after a few more curves in the road, I spotted Plage de la Garoupe through the palm trees. Out of all the beaches I saw on the Riviera, it was probably the prettiest. The sand was white and soft, the views stunning and the water absolutely tropical looking. There is a small public spot but most of it belongs to two private beach clubs, Plage Keller and Plage Joseph.
Fun Fact: A few years ago, Plage de la Garoupe banned selfies, saying that “people at this sophisticated beach should be enjoying the moment rather than being preoccupied with taking photos to brag to their friends back home”. Not such a bad idea if you ask me, but it only lasted for a season. 😄
Right at the end of the beach is the start of a coastal footpath known as the Sentier de tire-poil, meaning hair-pull, and named so because of the strong winds that are apparently always blowing there.
The wind was certainly strong the day I went, but it was such a pretty walk and it felt nice in the heat, so I didn’t really mind.
I must have unknowingly veered off the path at some point because I suddenly found myself on a pretty, paved road lined with stone walls covered in bougainvillea and star jasmine and with a really cool mix of architecture.
I also came across the pretty Villa Les Chênes Verts (below), where Jules Verne apparently spent 6 winters rewriting his novels for the theatre. Honestly, you can’t walk for more than 10 minutes anywhere on the Riviera before finding something noteworthy!
I decided to just keep walking rather than trying to find the path again, and shortly after, passed the entrance to the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, so I knew I wasn’t completely lost. I kept going, walked up a hill, and discovered the Batterie du Graillon, an old military defense site from the 18th century, now a museum. There’s a tower with a fantastic view, and behind the building is a small wooded area with a sea turtle rescue center.
After exploring the museum and grounds, I went back out on the road, took a left, and went as far down the hill as I could, then kept following the road along the water. I came across a Modernist house with a cool looking name sign and took a few pictures. I looked it up online later, and like everything on the Riviera that makes you look twice, the house turned out to be a famous villa that has seen its fair share of celebrities. It was built in 1938 by American architect Barry Dierks for Palm Beach socialite Audrey Chadwick, and was later owned by Jack Warner (of Warner Bros. Studios).
More or less around the corner from villa Aujourd’hui was the tiny harbor Abri de l’Olivette. It was so pretty and secluded, and filled with pointus, the colorful traditional Provencal fishing boats. As I walked in, a few kite surfers zoomed by, and a couple were sitting on the beach, the guy playing guitar and the girl singing, Edith Piaf among other things. I think they were just practicing, but to me, it sounded great and added the perfect finishing touch to the place!
After exploring and shooting there for a while, I went back out on the road and started walking towards Plage des Ondes.
It didn’t take long to get to Plage des Ondes. It’s on the Juan-les-Pins side of the peninsula and is quite small but so pretty, with gorgeous views and a cute little stone tower.
The tower was built in the 1950’s as a private dressing room for the French actress Martine Carol. According to Wikipedia, she was: “One of the more beautiful women in film, frequently cast as an elegant blonde seductress. During the late 40s and early 50s, she was the leading sex symbol and a top box-office draw of French cinema, and she was considered a French version of Marilyn Monroe. However, by the late 50s, roles had become fewer, partly because of the introduction of Brigitte Bardot. Despite her fame and fortune, Martine Carol’s personal life was filled with turmoil that included a suicide attempt, drug abuse, and four marriages. She was also kidnapped by gangster Pierre Loutrel (also known as Pierrot le Fou or Crazy Pete), albeit briefly and received roses the next day as an apology.” !!
Other cool things on this beach include this space invader installation (above) by street artist “Invader” (real name Franck Slama), and a black and red lighthouse which you can barely see in the distance (below).
The lighthouse was built in the mid-60s and beneath it, under the surface, are the remains of a miniature town. It was all built as part of a film set for the movie L’Enfant et la Sirène (The Child and the Mermaid), but never used. The filmmakers ultimately decided that it was going to be easier to shoot the scenes in a studio and left the little underwater town where it was. It’s still there, and a few diving companies organize tours to it.
I kept on walking along the sea, and soon after arrived in Juan-les-Pins.
I strolled along the many beach clubs lining the shore, with views of the Esterel mountains and the Cannes Islands across the turquoise water.
I did explore the town a little bit too, but at that point, between the heat and the walking, I was starving and exhausted and had really reached my limit, both physically and creatively.
I took a shorter route back to Antibes, and it felt SO good to finally sit down on the train back to Villefranche! The entire walk from Antibes to Juan-les-Pins, with lots of stops to shoot and look at the scenery, took me around 6 hours, and it was worth every minute – all those views and cool discoveries! I couldn’t wait to get back to the apartment and start going through the photos.
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