The most beautiful sites in Antibes Juan-les-Pins
The Hotel Belles Rives, the Port des Olivettes and the Villa of Dranen are among the most beautiful sites to discover on the coast from Juan-les-Pins to Cap d'Antibes. As is often the case on the Côte d'Azur, the buildings along the coastline are turned towards the sea. There is nothing better than a boat gliding silently on the coastline thanks to its maneuverability and its electric motors. Here is an overview of these jewels as well as the most important moments in the history of these places.
The sheltered port of Olivette has kept all its cachet and represents today a part of our heritage.
The fleet of 34 pointus from Port de l'Olivette to Cap d'Antibes
A true cinematographic icon, the sheltered port nestled in the hollow of the Olivette cove seems out of time. It has been home to fishermen's boats since 1910. It acquired the status of a marina in 1926. Its frequentation does not stop increasing after the war. It is in 1982 that it is placed under the protection of the association of defense and management of the Shelter of Olivette.
But what makes this small 0.7 hectare harbour shelter so remarkable, do you think? It has the particularity of gathering traditional fishing boats, but not just any boats. These are the emblematic boats of Mediterranean Provence, the "pointus", whose origins date back to antiquity.
Each pointu is handcrafted in marine wood, and has its own unique colors. The harbor shelter now hosts 43 boats including 32 traditional pointus. A large number of pointus are classified as "boats of heritage interest".
Each year, the pointus boats are honored in Antibes on the occasion of the Saint Peter's Day, patron saint of fishermen, which takes place in June: boat parades, pointus boat races and other festivities take place during 3 days in the town.
During your solar boat ride, you will not be able to miss this living testimony of our local maritime heritage, represented by these traditional boats that still regularly go out to sea in the summertime, around the Cap d'Antibes.
Just across the road from the harbor shelter, you have to approach the seemingly ordinary white house to discover its secret: the face of a smiling man carved into the concrete of the surrounding wall. It is the portrait of the owner, Dranem, whose real name was Charles Armand Ménard, a humorist songwriter in the 1900s who was a great popular success and was admired by Boris Vian and Maurice Chevallier.
The villa l'Olivette and its statue of the singer Dranem
Described as a "genius idiot" by a critic of the time, this polymorphous artist was particularly productive: interpreter of nearly a hundred songs, about twenty operettas, about fifteen films, plays, radio programs and twelve phonoscenes (the ancestor of the video clip).
Dranem not only bequeathed his house in Cap d'Antibes to posterity, but in 1911 he also created the Château Dranem in Ris Orangis, in the Essonne region of France, which is still today the retirement home dedicated to former French artists.
If you want to know more about this character and his life full of twists and turns, get his autobiography entitled "A Rich Nature".
In a solar boat, the most beautiful buildings rich in history and culture are peacefully revealed to the walker. A Palace is enthroned there as soon as the first hundreds of meters are crossed.
Solar boat tour in front of the Belles Rives hotel
A villa at the origins of the Belles Rives hotel
The Belles Rives has had several lives since the beginning of the 20th century, and each era was equally remarkable.
In the beginning, the Villa Saint Louis was created by the Nice architect Charles Dalmas (who also designed the Palace Carlton in Cannes, and the Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice). He focused on designing large openings facing south with a panoramic view of the sea and a maximum of light.
The Fitzgerald years
But it is the American writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald who undoubtedly crystallized the legend of the Villa Saint Louis and the flamboyance of Juan les Pins, the seaside resort where it is located.
A jazz lover, Fitzgerald was the leader of the Lost Generation, composed of youth and artists disenchanted after the First World War.
Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were guests of the American couple the Murphys in Antibes in 1925, and enjoyed the Mediterranean lifestyle in several Cape Town residences, including the Villa Saint Louis. It was there that Fitzgerald met many artists and personalities of the time, such as Ernest Hemingway and Mistinguett, and that he completed writing his masterpiece "Gatsby the Magnificent".
His next novel, equally brilliant, "Tender is the Night" is also strongly inspired by his own life and that of the Murphys in this cove of Cap d'Antibes. Behind the appearances and carefree pleasures of a dilettante society, his works describe the abyss, the intimate disappointments of a whole generation.
It is thanks to these personalities and this new "art of living" that summer vacationing was established, whereas since the 19th century, the coast was mostly appreciated during the winter season.
The villa is transformed into a hotel
In 1929, the owner of the Villa, Boma Estène, of Russian origin, transformed it into a family guesthouse, the Hotel Belles Rives.
Today, the Estène heirs still manage the prestigious establishment. It obtained its five stars in 1990 and entered the closed circle of the exceptional hotel industry.
The Palace skilfully cultivates and maintains this cultural heritage: a quotation from Fitzgerald is engraved on a commemorative plaque, the Fitzgerald literary prize brings together contemporary intellectuals each year to celebrate the winner, the Art Deco architecture and design are scrupulously preserved, a thousand subtle details recall the Belle Epoque (1920-1930) and its famous residents.
The invention of water skiing
Belles Rives has also distinguished itself in a very different field from the literary and glamorous world: that of water sports. It represents the cradle of the practice of water skiing in 1949, with the creation of the world championships in the bay of Juan les Pins. The inventor of water skiing, Léo Roman, founded the first water skiing school there, which continued with the "Belles Rives Ski Nautique Club" managed by Marc Grilli.
Among the images belonging to the popular culture, we remember the actors Roger Moore and Tony Curtis water skiing à Juan-les-Pins dans le générique de la série télévisuelle Amicalement vôtre (The Persuaders) en 1971, dont plusieurs épisodes se déroulent sur la Côte d’Azur.
How to discover the most secret corners of the Cap d'Antibes?
It is by the sea that you will discover the wonders of the Cap d'Antibes as we have just presented to you. By going up towards the south, beyond the bay of the billionaires, you will find many other inaccessible curiosities like the Château la Croë. You can rent a canoe or rent a boat. The easiest is probably the solar boat tour and it is also very comfortable because it is silent and odorless.