One of the main drags in the centre of Juan-les-Pins
Living in France
Feeling jaded ? Want to show you can still strut your stuff with the best of them ? Inner man or woman in need of a pep ?
Antibes is first and foremost an ancient fortified port. Traditionally austere, it then discovered that narrow back alleys attract tourists in droves if filled with cafés, boutiques, bars etc.
But Antibes faces east, with only a few privileged places catching the sun in the late afternoon and evening, and there’s a dearth of places where one can wine and dine with a sea view. Most serious drinking of an evening is done on the Boulevard d’Aguillon, which has the monumental Courtine blocking the view of the harbour, save for the odd archway or two.
Juan-les-Pins in contrast is a purpose-built modern resort, founded in the early 20th century on a sweeping pine-backed bay that faces south. It is first and foremost a destination for sun-worshippers, in which private enterprise has bagged the most accessible stretches of sand for beach clubs and restaurants.
There are the inevitable Brazilian acrobats, doing their amazing somersaults on hard unforgiving asphalt, the street traders and beggars. Kittens are popular this year with the latter, no doubt to attract silver from the pockets of parents with small children or from kind-hearted old ladies.
There was a sprinkling of hookers, looking appraisingly at unaccompanied males (except me with my camera), probably pickpockets and drug dealers (the downside of Juan in the season) and a very visible police presence, including the CRS heavies.
The fireworks were splendid. We saw new ones we've never seen before. There were some that created lacy orange sprays in the sky and sea level, reminiscent of weeping willow trees. There were others which pulsed in red strobe-like flashes on the way down, and others which ended as incandescent flares floating on the sea, like theatre footlights.
I didn’t have my camera . Who takes a camera to Juan after dark except to take pictures of friends across the table. ? One goes to Juan to revel, not record for posterity.
So I returned last night alone, sat at the same bar, walked the same lanes and promenade, taking pictures without a flash, which explains why they are in some cases an impressionist blur.
Make sure you have your speakers activated when you play the YouTube clip which I took outside the place called Pam Pam, with the vocalists and band inside pushing decibels aplenty out into the street.
There's a street with two ice cream parlours, with just a shop separating the two. If you like rum and raisin, avoid the one that claims to be Italian – its offering tastes of neither rum nor raisin. In fact it tastes of nothing at all.
Ice cream parlour (I'll try this one first next time in preference to its neighbour)
If you have a few hours at your disposal, book a table for dinner at one of the beach restaurants eg Juanita, and watch the sun go down behind the jagged Esterel, the far side of Cannes, with a candle on the table. Magic ! But smear yourself well, especially ankles, to protect against things that bite in the night.