The great Mediterranean civilizations have left their mark on Antibes, starting with the Greeks (the Phocaeans), who came in the 4th century BC.
Antipolis means “the city in front” in Greek. At that time Antipolis was a trading port, welcoming Greek ships. With the arrival of the Romans, Antipolis became Antiboul and was then one of the privileged places of trade and passage of the Mediterranean Basin. Two aqueducts were built for the water supply, the one of Fontvieille, six kilometers long, took the water from the springs of the Louve and the Lavencq on the road to Biot (towards the Bastide du Roy).
Today you can still find some traces of these works.
After the Empire, Antibes will undergo invasions until the installation of the Franks.
It became a feudal city in the 11th century when heavy ships left the port on their way to the Holy Land with the blue flag with a white cross in their sails, which is the origin of the arms of the city of Antibes.
Antibes became the frontier between the Kingdom of France and that of Savoy. To defend themselves, the inhabitants developed the fortifications of the port. When the city was besieged in the 16th century by Charles V, François I (King of France) and his successors decided to reinforce the fortifications. In 1550, on the orders of the King of France, Henri II, the construction of the “Fort Carré” began, which suffered its first attack in 1591. The Saint-Laurent tower, fortified under Henri III, became the Fort Carré. The place was not completed until 1710 when Vauban finished the ramparts and fortifications as well as the fort overlooking the Saint-Roch cove. The plague, then new attacks, ruined the economic activity of the city during the 18th century.
Today we can see the old town with its ramparts and the Fort Carré as living witnesses of these times. The archaeological discoveries of Antibes are exposed in the Museum of the Bastion Saint André.
In 1794, the young Bonaparte, in charge of the defense of the coastline, settled his family in the city. After the fall of Robespierre, he was imprisoned for some time in the Fort Carré. The county of Nice was disputed for a long time between France and the House of Savoy, and became definitively French in 1860. As a result, Antibes lost all strategic importance and felt confined to its ramparts. In 1894, the city developed inland and began to dismantle its ramparts. Antibes then opened up to the surrounding countryside and to the Cap d’Antibes. The Cap d’Antibes then began to welcome the first tourists on holiday and the seaside resort of Juan-les-Pins was created in 1882 and became the first large fashionable summer resort on the coast, welcoming the political, social and artistic elite from all over the world (Fitzgerald, Picasso, Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, the Kennedy family…).
Antibes, a favorite destination for artists
Antibes is very popular amongst artists. Many artists, writers and painters have chosen Antibes as their source of inspiration. Claude Monet, impressionist painter, Nicolas de Staël for modern art or Pablo Picasso. The latter bought the Grimaldi castle to make it his home, which is now his museum.
As for writers, let’s mention Somerset Maugham or Guillaume Musso who grew up in Antibes.
Juan les Pins also owes its fame to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald who launched seaside tourism in the 30s.
In short, today how can we talk about Antibes without mentioning Prévert, Audiberti, Greene or Picasso who found in the old stones of the castle a new source of inspiration!