A five hour train ride south took me to the Cote d’Azur. This is the southern boarder of France which spans miles along the Mediterranean Sea. After passing grassy fields, wildflowers galore and beautiful vineyards, the landscape changed suddenly. Patches of sparkling sea started to catch my eye. As quickly as I would see the bright blue water, it would disappear behind a building, hillside or train station. I started craving the sight of a rocky alcove filled in with a punch of color. There is not color like this in Paris. I was on my way to Antibes, a seaport and just past Cannes and close to Italy.
I arrived in Antibes about 45 minutes later. The station is tiny with no fanfare for such a beautiful location. I made my way to my hotel (roughly 10 minutes walking from the train station). I was sweaty and confused and convinced, once again, I had packed all the wrong clothing.
The streets in Antibes are small and winding with lots of alleys; a microcosm of Paris, perhaps. From the station, I walked on the roadway and a harbor full of impressive yachts weaved along the jagged coast to my left. As I walked into town, the streets became pedestrian-only, crooked and cobbled. Narrow alleyways seemed to present short-cuts, but I am not really sure I helped myself by turning down those paths.
I am guilty of taking an alleyway or turning in the direction of climbing potted plants or flowering shrubs arched over ancient doors, but I had to stop myself and focus. Just get to the hotel, Gretchen.
Antibes was humid – about the same temperature as Paris, but humid. Mon Dieu! Every once in a while a breeze moved through the streets and made the humidity tolerable. After checking in, I dropped my bags, guzzled some water and changed into my coolest outfit in my bag.
I set out in the town, which I mentioned was confusing at first, but was easy to understand once I did a quick orientation walk. The pedestrian nature of the town was wonderful, but I quickly realized I was in the start of the summer season. There were crowds everywhere. However, one of the benefits of crowds in a small town is they queue in front of the very best Gelateria shops. No research needed. I made mental notes. After a few hours of exploring, I retreated to my hotel for a glass of wine and to enjoy a shaded patio away from all the people.
The following morning, I woke up and went for a foggy walk by the harbor. In the distance, along the coast, I could see an old military fort. I walked in the direction of the fort and found a trail to take me around the grounds. The fort was not open to explore, but the nature preserve surrounding the area was open and very enjoyable. At one point, I did disturb some possessive seagulls who let me know I was on their turf and encouraged me to leave.
On my way back, I walked past a pebble beach and a fishing bulkhead. Several fisherman were watching their lines – they had long fishing poles, plenty of Heineken and a brown paper bag filled with baguettes. They might have been in this location through the night. It was hard to tell; the baguettes looked fresh the men did not.
Antibes was a wonderful little town to visit. My furthest train ride from Paris yet, but with such great scenery and traveling on non-striking transit days it made the trip an easy one.