© Plage Keller
One of the great pleasures of a holiday on the French Riviera is the magnificent people-watching on offer, from elegant women carrying chihuahuas in their Hermès handbags, to lifelong sun-worshippers and celebrities who flock to the Côte d'Azur.
Because we know that the best people-watching is a combination of the luxury scene and the local life, we’ve put together a list of places in Antibes where you can see Riviera life in all its varieties from high superyacht society to the bustling markets; from the beach scene to the traditional café. So put on your big dark glasses and people-watch to your heart’s content!
The International Yacht Quay
Take a stroll along the International Yacht Quay, where the immense megayachts worth many tens— even hundreds—of millions of euro are docked. Watch the yacht crew at work, and keep your eyes peeled for famous guests onboard.
A hint for aspiring celeb-spotters: if you can see flower displays on deck, if the crew are wearing collared shirts with epaulets, or if there’s a supercar parked out the front, then there’s almost certainly guests on board. Otherwise, the yacht has probably just come in to port to spend some down-time until the next guest trip, so you’ll have to content yourself with admiring these floating palaces against the backdrop of the Alps.
Zinc Wine Bar
The covered Provençal market in Antibes is always bustling with activity, particularly in the summer months when it’s a happy clamour of tourists and locals pushing through stalls loaded with gleaming olives, huge wheels of soft French cheeses, and purple bunches of rich-smelling lavender.
Once you’ve bought your goodies, it’s advisable to grab a table at one of the cafés that run along either side of the market, and relish in the people-watching. Any of the little cafés along the marketplace have good views of all the action, but Zinc Wine Bar and Café gets our vote because it’s not under the roof so you’ll get some sunshine, the wine is of a good standard without being expensive, and the charcuterie plates and meals are very good too.
Plage du Ponteil Promenade
The promenade along Plage du Ponteil beach during late afternoon/early evening is one of the great people-watching experiences of Antibes. As the sun loses its heat and the sky and sea begin to turn pink, crowds of people come down to have picnics, swim, play volleyball and take gentle strolls along the coast in the fading light.
In summer, there’s often music playing and people gathered here long after it gets dark and this is definitely the place to be when the summer fireworks displays kick off. There are park benches along the promenade, a playground for the kids, and a small Casino supermarket across the road if you need picnic supplies.
If you fancy having a cocktail and watching the world go by, cross back over the road to the Royal Beach Club at the Royal Antibes Hotel, which makes the best cocktails along this stretch of Riviera after 17:00.
Le Vieil Antibes Café
This old, traditional French café-bar sits right by the fountain in the corner of Place Naçionale, and it collects a fantastic gathering of all types of people.
In summer the outside tables are crowded with locals and tourists enjoying the sunshine, cold beer, and huge ice-cream sundaes. On cold winter days, a few brave souls smoke Gauloises cigarettes and read the newspapers on outside tables, while inside you find old ladies with fur coats and handbag dogs, and groups of French friends and expats enjoying the warm and welcoming atmosphere.
This is the kind of old-school café where the wine is cheap, the food is reasonably priced and the menu features all the traditional omelette and croque monsieurs you would expect. The people-watching is brilliant- particularly on the antique market days or on warm summer nights when buskers play by the little fountain and the square fills with happy people.
Pam-Pams in Juan les Pins
This famous Tiki-themed bar and café, Pam-Pam in neighbouring Juan les Pins has lots of terrace tables facing outwards to watch the world go by, and the cocktails are served in coconut shells with umbrellas sticking out. A bit cheesy? Almost certainly. Fun? Yep, that too.
There are also nightly South-Pacific themed shows, so expect grass skirts and a décor of wooden masks and fake palm trees (but you can avoid this completely with a table on the street). This venue is wildly popular and just gets busier as the night goes on, and keeps on going until the early hours.
We don’t think a visit to the Riviera is complete until you’ve made a visit to a beach club somewhere along the coast and no matter which one you choose, there’s always a great atmosphere and some great people-watching on offer.
In Antibes proper there’s the lovely Royal Beach, while on the Cap d’Antibes there are several beach clubs at Plage de la Garoupe, from the swanky Plage Keller to a budget, family friendly beach club called La Joliette. Finally, in the adjoining resort town of Juan les Pins you’ll find a whole stretch of beach clubs, ranging from the cool and sophisticated to the all-day party vibe.
What did we miss? Do you have a favourite people-watching spot in Antibes? Let us know in the comments!