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Antibes Juan-les-Pins History


The history of Antibes Juan-les-Pins goes back several millennia. The site was first settled by Ligurians. It occupies a remarkable location: on one hand, a defensive site with its natural shelter; on the other, the convergence point for sailing itineraries along the coasts of Italy and Corsica.

With the arrival of Christianity in the 3rd century AD, the city became a bishopric. But the town, now named Antiboul, would soon experience difficult times, as Visigoths, Saracens, hordes of Barbarians spread terror until the 10th century. The insecurity reigning in the city incited the Pope to transfer the bishopric to Grasse in 1244 and, in 1385, the Grimaldi family were appointed Royal Captains of Antibes by Queen Marie.

Antibes Harbor

Antibes Juan-les-Pins from the air.

The year 1482 was an important turning point in the city’s history: Provence became part of the Kingdom of France with Antibes on the border. In the 17th century, French King Louis XIV entrusted Field Marshal Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban with modernizing the fortifications, completely reshaping the city. These works were performed by the French military engineer Niquet. In the winter of 1746/1747, the town withstood a siege by Austrian and Sardinian troops and the English fleet for 58 days. In 1815, it closed its doors to Napoleon on his return from the Isle of Elba and was rewarded for its loyalty to King Louis XVIII, who restored its title of ‘Bonne Ville’, which had been withdrawn by the Emperor. The town also earned a new coat of arms, with the fleurs-de-lis included.

In 1887 the appearance of the word ‘Côte d’Azur’ was a turning point for the entire Riviera and thus for Antibes and the very young district of Juan-les-Pins. 1889 marked the opening of Grand Hôtel du Cap. In 1893 the opening of the ‘Grand Hôtel’ in Juan-les-Pins announced the coming development of a major tourist resort. Little by little villas were built and Juan-les-Pins grew into a splendid seaside resort between the already renowned towns of Nice and Cannes. Antibes began to feel the need to burst out of its ramparts and undertook to demolish them in 1895. The production of olive oil, wine and silkworm farming gradually yielded to horticulture and tourism.

In 1936, there was an onslaught, with the first paid holidays, while the fashionable salons greeted the Fitzgeralds, Rudolf Valentino, Mistinguett, Hemingway and ‘La Belle Otéro’. In 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death seemed to mark the end of this festive era, ushering in the War. As soon as the war ended, Antibes Juan-les-Pins enjoyed a rebirth; tourists flocked here and famous names settled in the commune, such as Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, and Pablo Picasso who painted in Château Grimaldi.

in 1960, Juan-les-Pins hosted the first European Jazz Festival. Nearly 42 years earlier, from the very beginning, jazz had already come here by miracle, making Antibes the birthplace of the worldwide myth of the ‘jazz age’ and ‘Les Enfants du Jazz’.

In 1970, the sea was in the spotlight with the opening of Marineland, Europe’s largest marine park and research center. In the following decade, many international sporting events took place (gymnastics, skeet shooting), and major companies located in the industrial zone of Les Trois Moulins.

Today, Antibes Juan-les-Pins is still a top tourist destination in the Cote d'Azurwith its historic hotels and legendary jazz culture. Antibes should be on any tourists top-ten list when visiting France.

More pictures available on our Pinterest Antibes Juan-les-Pins page.