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Antibes

The City of Antibes is conveniently tucked between Nice and Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur coastline, but it is certainly far from being obscure, and definitely not hidden! Turn left out of l’Aeroport de Nice International Côte d’Azur, and within 17km you will see the majestic 16th century castle that is Le Fort Carré as you approach Antibes, towering above the vast panorama of yachts of every size, shape and colour in Port Vauban. Although Antibes has an enviable history dating back to the 5th century BC, when it was known as Antipolis and a settlement for the Phoceans from Greece, as well as being a notable seafaring port, Antibes’ modern claim to fame is that it is THE capital of international super-yachting.

Port Vauban yacht marina in Antibes, France

As such, Antibes is dependent on the yachting industry, and everything is therefore made available that very rich owners and their «big boys’ toys» could possibly wish for! Whether it is a new sail for the yacht, a few crates of vintage Champagne, or a replacement steward for one that has gone missing (!) ….. all things are possible. Superyacht provisioners are highly experienced in obtaining the impossible… often at a price! ‘Out of season’, is a phrase that they do not understand, so if a product or food is being grown or produced somewhere around the world, they can source it … and within a matter of hours.

Old Antibes from Cap d'Antibes

In fact historic Antibes is very much intertwined with the local well-travelled yachting community. The Remparts, the old city walls of Antibes, encircle the gigantic superyachts on the quai des Milliardaires, and extend out to the lighthouse at the entrance to Port Vauban. It is from Antibes’ ancient walls that one can enjoy and appreciate some of the best seascapes, with immense wealth both in port and at anchor! Originally a natural harbour since before the Roman times, the port was fortified by Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban, King Louis XIV’s military engineer. Port Vauban now serves as the home of the Yacht Club d’Antibes and is the largest marina (in terms of total tonnage of the boats and yachts moored there) in the Mediterranean. Some of the world’s largest and most lavishly appointed superyachts have this illustrious port at the IYCA as their home port, including Russian oil businessman Roman Abramovich’s 86m Ecstasea and his gift to fellow Russian businessman Eugene Shvidler (Le Grand Bleu). Co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen’s yacht Octopus is also a regular visitor to the harbour. Port Vauban is also home to Alisher Usmanov’s DILBAR, the largest yacht in the world by volume.

Superyachts at the IYCA in Port Vauban, Antibes

Antibes has always been a magnet for celebrities, at every level …. as well as the super wealthy from around the world. It has been a magnet for such characters as Sidney Bechet (renowned saxophonist), Nicolas de Staël and Pablo Picasso (both painters of repute), Graham Greene (the novelist) and Nikos Zazantzakis (writer of “Zorba the Greek”), are amongst those to have fallen under the spell of le Vieil Antibes. There is a very special clarity and quality of light in the skies over the city, which were undoubtedly great inspiration to artists such as Picasso and de Staël. There is a legendary museum in Picasso’s name, nestled between the Marché Provençal and the stone walls of the remparts bordering the sea.

Antibes Market

The ruelles, the spiders web of cobbled streets in the old town, hide many cultural gems, apart from the Musée de Picasso. La Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Immaculée Conception is one of the most beautiful churches in the Alpes-Maritimes region, and is renowned for it’s baroque-style architecture. The Festival of Sacred Music takes place here every September, drawing crowds from far and wide, and this year one of the major participators is the complete choir from New College, Oxford.

Safranier Old Antibes

The annual event that is of equal importance to both the city and the yachting fraternity is Les Voiles d’Antibes, held every year in June. This is one of the most important celebrations of sailing yachts, and their dexterity and sheer precision, on the Mediterranean yachting calendar. Since 1996, Les Voiles d’Antibes has marked the opening of the Mediterranean circuit for traditional and classic sailing boats. Although the participants are new each year, many of the stalwarts are mythical sailing yachts such as Ikra, Sovereign, Thendara Lelantina, Adria and Tuiga. This is the opportunity to watch the true masters of sailing battle it out against one another!

To discuss yacht charters in Antibes and on the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur), please contact a charter broker at Bespoke Yacht Charter:

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