When Margaret woke up on this dazzlingly bright blue sky morning with the typical haze on the horizon she was still feeling under the weather. We didn’t have a tour assigned so I went down to the Destination Services counter on Deck 5 at 6:30 am to see if anything was available and to get a latte and some fruit for me and tea for Margaret. The trip was a success as the latte was excellent and the desk said that they had tickets available for the St. Paul De Vence 4 hour afternoon tour. I took one ticket, making sure that they had another ticket available should Margaret wake up raring to go. In the meantime, I worked on the blog posts from the past couple days in the abandoned coffee shop with me being the only one there. Yesterday it was packed. Must have been a good night last night!
I brought Margaret an Earl Gray tea with honey to the room but she had already ordered and eaten breakfast so the tea wasn’t necessary. That being said, she clearly wasn’t in shape to head out so, after double checking that Destination Services had another ticket available should she change her mind, I headed out to explore the old town Antibes and, if she changed her mind, meet her at the on-shore tender dock for the tour at 1:00 pm.
Antibes (in France they say AhnTeeb but you don’t get scoffed at if you say Antibee) is a Mediterranean resort in the Alpes-Maritimes department of southeastern France, on the Côte d’Azur between Cannes and Nice. It was founded 5th century BC by Phoceaeans from what is now Marseille. The strange name was based on Antipolis which meant “city across” in Greek because it was across the sea from the main Greek city at the time. Seems to me that pretty much all cities were across the sea but I didn’t have a say and we’re stuck with the modern version at this point.
It was common in these coastal cities for traders like the Greeks to settle the area and then have trouble with invaders over the years. They then would invite the Romans to come in to provide protection and also do some trading. The Romans also brought grapes and olive trees and started producing wine and olive oil which has remained a mainstay to this day. At some point the Romans just made these places part of their empire and things were good.
However, like many places here they went through several cycles of doing well and doing poorly after the Romans fell and it really wasn’t until King Louis XI of France in the late 15th century that stability returned and in the mid-1800’s it became quite popular as wealthy people from Europe discovered it as a resort town.
The old town area was very much alive on a Saturday morning at 8:30. There was a covered marketplace pavilion with produce, olives, meat and fish crowded with locals scooping up there favorite items. It was a colorful, vibrant place with great smells the spoke of fresh, local and fantastic foods that would make great meals later that day. I made a couple passes to get some pictures of the food and people trying not to be totally obnoxious.
Getting to the end of the pavilion I turned towards the water and walked through narrow passageways to the coast where there was a road that led northeast on a great roadway that was built above rocky out cliffs that reminded me of Carmel. I went until I saw that there was no other way to get back into the city and went towards the central tower along the coast. Turned out that this was the Picasso Museum, one of the most interesting buildings in town. Picasso is closely associated with this area because he came to town in 1946 and was allowed to stay in the Château Grimaldi where he painted, drew and did ceramics and tapestries. When he left he gave a number of his works to the city and the castle later became the Picasso Museum! But, for me it was a bit of a let down because the museum wasn’t open yet. I walked around through town finding an antique flea market, a clothing flea market and lots of people out enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning. Lots going on and all interesting, including dogs here and there being well behaved.
With an hour to go before the tour started I found a café called The Crème Brulet and sat down for a moulle meal. I tasted one of their Rose’s and Sancerre’s and selected the Sancerre. The moulles came and it was about 100 small’ish mussels with a ton of potatoes grilled in olive oil. Later, they brought some really fresh (non-gluten free) bread. How could they do that! We are 100% gluten free, well, except for the Carmel Le Bicyclette pizza once in a while gluten free. OK, guilty as charged. But, it’s frickin’ real, in the flesh, Cote d’Azure! And, I only ate half of the potatoes and only a couple pieces of the incredible bread soaked in the white wine broth. Enough blame. I finished the mussels and wine, ordered a latte, drank it all, paid the bill and headed back to the Regent tender waiting area. What a beautiful city and what a fun time I had exploring this city.
Go to the next post to see what happened on the afternoon bus tour in Antibes.