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Review: Cap d'Antibes Revisited

Specialist Holiday - Sightseeing

Juan-les-Pins, France

Une tour nostalgique

  • By SilverTraveller John-Hayden-Halsey

    16 reviews

    Ribbon

  • Apr 2014
  • Partner

127 people found this review helpful

Une Petite Histoire unique – Vues sublime de La Riviera Francais en avion – La Cote d'Azur avec nostalgique



Escape! Escape! Escape from storm torn and raid sodden Britain was in our minds constantly this Spring. Hence we have been taking a series of short sojourns in Les Alpes Maritimes and on La Cote d' Azur early this year and been constantly rewarded with wonderfully rewarding experiences in the South of France.



Flying from Bristol to Nice with easyJet in reserved seats at the very front of the cabin adjacent to the forward access..



Mesmerisingly beautiful panoramic airiel views of spellbinding scenary We flew over Paris in sunshine, down through the Rhone Valley with spellbinding views over the snow capped Alps to the east and over the steep escarpment of the Cote Rotie vineyards to the west south of Lyon. Flying on down the Rhone Valley over the XIVth Century Popes' Palace at Avignon, then crossing Les Alpilles Mountains, the vast wet lands of the Camarque, the inland sea of Etang de Berre and past the fabulous 600 BC Phoecean Greek settlement, Massallia now known as Marseilles.



We noticed to our utter astonishment that sadly, apparently virtually none of our fellow passengers took any interest in looking out of the plane at the spellbinding scenery of which we had a superlative view from the time the Alpine snows came into view to the time we landed at Nice. Hence we have taken the trouble to portray what there is to see when flying this remarkable airline route in clear sunny weather.



Leaving Marseilles in our wake, we followed the Mediterranean coast, flying over arguably the most numerous and famous resort towns within such a short line of coast in the world. All situated between Marseilles and the Italian Riviera resort of Bordighera . Just to mention a few we flew over, Cassis, La Ciotat, Bandol, Le Lavandou, Cavaliare-sur-Mer, Ramatuelle and the legendary Pamplona Beach made famous by Brigitte Bardot following the release in 1956 of her most famous Vadim film, 'And God Created Woman'. St. Tropez where Bardot has owned the Villa La Madrague for many years. St. Raphael, Frejus once a large and important Roman shipbuilding centre, Agay, Le Trayas, Miramar, Theoule-sur-Mer, Mandalieu, Cannes, Iles de Lerins with the medieval monastery founded by St. Francis of Assisi where the monks tend a highly successful vineyard that produces some very palatable wines.



Onward across the Golfe du Juan with views of Golfe-Juan. Juan-les-Pins, over the cliffside parkland 'earthly paradise' much frequented by the international film industry, Hotel du Cap/Eden Roc on Cap d' Antibes.The beautiful Baie de Faux d' Argent ('False Money Bay') which aptly describes the origin of much of the wealth displayed through the seemingly unending run of sumptuous villas that stand amidst glorious clifftop gardens and private parkland all along the southern aspect of Cap d'Antibes. Of which the vast Chateau de la Croe, the erstwhile home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, following his abdication in 1936 and latterly by Stavros Niarchos the Greek shipping tycoon. Now owned by Roman Abromovich who is currently engaged upon a vast development scheme that has decimated the once glorious gardens, a vast area of which is undergoing multiple works. Onward over Antibes above the Port Vauban yacht harbour and marina, that contains the largest tonnage of yachts in the world. Out across the Baie des Anges with the foothills of the Alps, Les Alpes Maritimes sweeping up directly behind the coastal littoral dotted with medieval fortified hill towns that can be seen from the plane, such as Gourdon, Tourettes-sur-Loup, Vence, St. Paul de Vence and Haute de Cagnes, all of which should be visited if at all possible.



Flying eastwards past Nice over the Baie des Anges, St. Jean Cap Ferrat where King Leopold of the Belgiums once owned a number of palatial villas, whose mistress the Niciose seductress courtesan whose astonishly pert breasts had according to legend been the models for the cupolas on the Carlton Hotel at Cannes. Onwards past the 'fairy tale' Principality of Monaco with it's palace and magnificent cliff top aquarium and Monte Carlo which sadly seems to have been appallingly developed to looks like a Florida resort transported to Europe, with the 'Rape of Monte Carlo' first instigated by Aristotle Onassis when he owned the controlling interest in the Societe des Bains de Mer at a time Prince Ranier was but a junior shareholder, until latterly backed by the Banque de France through General de Gaulle that then saw Onassis reduced to a minority shareholder literally overnight. Upon the discovery of which, Onassis boarded his famous yacht MY 'Christina' the following day and departed never to return.



Our flight took us over Cap Martin past Menton, along the Italian Riviera by Vintimiglia and turning back for our approach to Nice re-tracing our flight path by Monaco, over St. Jean-Cap-Ferrat and the stunning horshow shaped deep water anchorage of the Baie de Villefranche where the Dukes of Savoy once maintained a fleet of oared galleys in the Port Darce, now a charming small marina, protected by the immense Citadel built in the 16th century.



Making our approach following the line of the famous Promenade des Anglais 'au bord de la mer' we landed in bright sunshine beside an azure blue sea on the reclaimed promontory that serves as Nice Cote d' Azur Airport where as usual a number of superlative state of the art intercontinental private jets were parked with their fuselages gleaming. as they stood basking in the sun awaiting their owners' next flights to distant destinations such as Los Angeles, Riyad in Saudi Arabia and other sources of almost unlimited wealth.



Car Hire at Nice Cote d' Azur Airport We pre-booked in England a VW Golf or size equivalent with Europcar.



Les Temps sur La Cote d' Azur en Avril April on the Cote d' Azur in 2014 was akin at times to June in Devon and Cornwall, with a host of flowers in bloom all along the coast. People out sunbathing ashore and afloat. Boats of every size being enjoyed by their owners and friends with even a number of Super Yachts cruising unusually calm seas around the legendary headlands and dropping anchor in famous bays all along the coast from Antibes to St. Tropez.



Our Route to Juan-ls-Pins 'au bord de la mer' We took the A8 Autoroute and turned off at Villeneuve-Loubet onto the D6007 highway for Antibes, turning onto the D6098 at Biot that runs along the top of the public pebble beach before entering Antibes below the Fortress of Fort Carre built on the orders of Louis XIV by his brilliant military architectural genius Vauban after which the vast port and marina is named Port Vauban. Driving around the marina we then entered Vieux Antibes through an archway in the Vauban walls. Just inside of which there are a host of excellent and very reasonable bistros with tables outside where locally caught fish are the order of the day such as Soupe de Poissons to commence and Fritto Misto as a main course, finishing with delicious 'pattiseries' topped with fresh fruit, accompanied by a carafe of 'vin rose du maison' and a 'carafe d'eaux'. The bistros are frequented by yacht owners and senior yacht crew from superyachts berthed a stones throw away in Port Vauban.



Founding of Antibes in 400 BC The Greeks built fortified maritime trading posts all along the coast from Marseilles to what is now the Italian border with France at Menton. First settling at 'Massallia founded 600BC now Marseilles and followed by numerous settlements all along the coast most notably at St. Tropez, Frejus, Cannes, Antibes and Nice. The Greeks wisely did not trust the warlike and barbarian Ligurian tribes who then peopled this coastline and interior. Hence, all Greek settlements were heavily fortified on the landward side with substantial gated accesses. The Ligurians never being allowed within these Greek settlements in any numbers and trading always taking place on prepared open ground directly outside these settlements until such time that the Greeks had pacified the more warlike amongst the Ligurians and inter-married with them. The Greeks brought olive and citrus fruit trees to the entire region, planting out huge areas with these trees which when harvested were traded around the Mediterranean, most particularly the olive oil in vast quantities transported in wonderfully thrown pottery jars made largely below the nearby Greek settlement known today as Biot. Where the Greeks also founded a glass industry which still thrives to this day and is well worth a visit not only to view glass being blown but to purchase examples of glass still created in the manner that the original Greek glass makers of this region would recognise at the Verriere de Biot, Chemins de Combes, just off the D4. See: www.verreriebiot.com



Louis XIV – Paul Gallico – Grahame Green – Billionaire Yacht Owners After lunch we took a short promenade along the harbour quay and onto the Super Yacht quay, to admire many of the most famous yachts in the world, some costing hundreds if millions to build, often owned by billionaires who own a number of such yachts, such a Roman Abramovich and numerous Middle Eastern heads of state. Thereafter we followed the awesome marine drive along the famous 17th century 'Vieux Murs' fortified walls by Vauban on instructions of Louis XIV Le Promenade Amiral de Grasse' for which Antibes is so well known internationally. Often the subject of many of the greatest artists of the 19th/20th centuries. Including Picasso who lived at the Chateau de Grimaldi (now the Musee Picasso) in Vieux Antibes, during the Post War Years, as a guest of the mayor of Antibes. Paul Gallico owned a pair of 17th cnty. merchants' houses overlooking the walls above the port, where he lived and worked for many years. Another famous author in residence at Antibes was at one time Grahame Green, who lived nearby but much less stylishly. Paul Gallico also owned a numbers of properties internationally including a house called Landmark at Salcombe in England and would visit my parents by boat, walking up through our waterside gardens, sometimes carrying a magnificent sea bass that he had caught that day off Salcombe fishing with the legendary superb commercial bass fishermen Lionel Cook or Edward Cook of Cooks' Boat House by Whitestrand Quay.



Driving Around Ca d'Antibes & Walking the Coast Glorious Path Following the D2559 around Cap d' Antibes past Plage de la Garoupe where Scott Fitzgerald once owned a house adjacent to the vast park surrounding Chateau de La Garoupe. A spellbinding public footpath ' Sentier Littoral' that runs from La Garoupe built above the rocks below the cliffs past Cap Gros to Cap d' Antibes from which views of some of the most legendary villas on the Cote d' Azur can be seen behind extensive high security fences and walls, including Chateau de la Croe owned by Abromovich, the Russian Oligarch. We parked at the western end of this path outside the main entrance to Ch. de la Croe and walked down between La Croe and the lovely Villa Eilenroc, then joined the coast path to the Anse de Faux d' Argent where the path descends to the astonishing once private bathing facilities and quayside for Villa Eilenroc which have to be seen to be believed, the villa and facilties designed by Charles Garnier who also designed the Paris Opera House.The villa and vast landscaped park was created during 1860-7 and was latterly bequeathed to the Town of Antibes and the gardens are now open to the public.



Hotel du Cap/Eden Roc et Une Jaguar san parlel' Further along the D2559 we passed the imposing entrance to the fabulous Hotel du Cap/Eden Roc that is considered by many of the cognescenti to be arguably the finest hotel in the world, a view that we heartily share, as members of our family have been habitually staying there ever since Edwardian times when the hotel first opened in 1870 and we still stay there to this day. We own a classic Jaguar car that was specifically built for Angela Halsey under the auspices of Sir William 'Bill' Lyons founder of Jaguar Motor Cars Ltd. for driving down from Salcombe in Devon to the Hotel du Cap/Eden Roc, which we still also enjoy doing.



Port de l'Olivette – Villa Aujourd' hui et Villa Pamplemousse Running down the hill the road passes the lovely art deco 'Villa Aujourd'hui' overlooking Port de l' Olivette. Opposite is the 19th century baroque style 'Villa Pamplemousse' that was once owned by my father Captain Gordon Halsey, a legendary international entrepeneur of the 1920's and 1930s whose exploits are currently the subject of a major feature film now in development. He once drove his Italian bodied Rolls Royce Phantom II Sporting Tourer from Cap d' Antibes to London leaving at 8 a.m one day and lunching at the Ritz in London the next day, having spent a night at Boulogne awaiting the first crossing, having missed the last boat of the day. He shared the driving with his chauffeur/bodyguard of many years known as Kent. Who wore clothes from leading London tailors and shirtmakers, so as not to appear out of place whilst accompanying his employer internationally.



Riva Aquarama – The most beautiful model of mahogany speedboat ever designed . Still built at Sarnico in Italy today. When I was a child during the 1950s-1960's, my father kept his Riva Aquarame at Golfe – Juan and had this beautiful varnished mahogany twin V8 Chevrolet engined 50 mph 29ft speedboat built at Sarnico in Northern Italy, brought over to Eden Roc in good weather by his boatman Jean Pierre (a delightful and charming retired professional yacht captain who always wore white cotton trousers and a blue and white striped polo shirt topped off with a blue French yachting cap. When it was too rough to come alongside at Eden Roc, we would often board the Riva at Port de l'Olivette to run over to the lles des Lerins off Cannes for lunch between the islands, as she was an immensely seaworthy boat. We also used her for water ski-ing in the shelter of Cap d' Antibes before the wind got up, before breakfast. Her name was 'Ladybird' which the vernacular for in French is more arresting translating at La Bete du Bonne Dieu, meaning the beast of god, as she was known as by the local fishermen.



Water Ski ing invented at Juan les -Pins Count Polaski and Frank Jay Gould, the billionaire who created Juan-les-Pins during the 1920's, invented water ski-ing in the bay of Golfe Juan off the Hotel Provencal Plage which Polaski latr demonstrated in Central Park, New York.



Hotel Belle Rives Stayed at this dream of an art deco hotel which has remained one of the finest hotels of this genre in the world ever since it first opened in 1930 and still retains the same decor and is still owned by the same family who built it. The rooms, food, service and location are all simply out of this world.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • John-Hayden-Halsey
    about 7 years ago
    Hi Vicky

    Glad you enjoyed reading my piece on Cap d' Antibes
    Fly down to Nice having chosen a small hotel without
    restaurant near La Pinede at Juan-les-Pins or money
    no object at Le Belle Rives which is a experience never
    to be forgotten. Unless you like driving, just walk everywhere
    and take a taxi or bus when necessary...Eat at Le Perroquet
    at on La Pinede and La Pinede Plage. Avoid the nouveau
    Provencal Plage like the plague, expensive and pretentious.

    Research all that interests you prior to making a trip to Cap d'
    Antibes, so you are able to get the most benefit and fun from
    your stay on Cap d' Antibes.

    Have fun...

    John H. Halsey
  • Vicky11
    about 7 years ago
    How wonderful! Sounds like you had a fabulous time. Like the pictures