The Mole Diaries: Antibes
Antibes is a beautiful coastal town nestled in the heart of the Cote d’Azur. With 300 days of sunshine a year, and close proximity to the glamorous locations of Monaco, Cannes and St Tropez, it’s hard not to feel like you’re on holiday. As with any year abroad though, it’s not all plain sailing.
The Tough Parts and how to prepare for them
Finding somewhere to live isn’t easy. Finding somewhere to live in the summer, during prime tourist season, is a bit of a nightmare. Where possible, arrange temporary accommodation whilst you look for somewhere permanent, but be aware of inflated prices for the summer season. Appartager is worth taking a look at for flat sharing.
Be aware that setting a bank account up is not as simple in France as in England, and you will require a fixed address before you can open one. Going with an international bank (such as HSBC) can incur elevated charges, but saves a lot of time and hassle in waiting for a bank card.
Speaking the language
No need to worry about the language barrier here, almost everyone can speak English. In fact, Antibes suffers from the opposite problem: it’s very easy to live and work here without using any French at all, and so if you want to improve your language skills it’s important to make a conscious effort to mix with French people. Franglish is a very well organised event which matches French and English speakers up to practise their language, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new people too.
My first internship in Antibes was with the global company Amadeus (who create IT and reservations systems for the tourist industry) It was advertised by the Management school at Lancaster University, and my role was mainly split between budget tasks and organising training academies and trainer’s evaluations. Apply early to lots of companies in order to prevent last minute stress of securing a job.
Cannes Firework Festival
8 minutes away from Antibes by train, Cannes thrives in the summer months when it hosts various events, including the world renowned film festival, the weekly electro dance music festival Plages Electroniques, and the festival d’art Pyrotechnique, which involves a different country hosting an incredible firework display each week set to music. Be sure to get there early though to grab a spot, because as the event is free, the beach fills up very quickly, with around 200,000 people attending each time!
Tucked away underground in the centre of Antibes, the absinthe bar is a great place to spend an evening with friends. With a quirky and lively ambience, it feels a little like going back in time. Visitors have fun trying on different hats whilst sampling the absinthe and listening to the live piano music.
This beautiful group of islands is accessible by boat which can be taken from the port at Cannes. A return ticket is about 12€, but if you’re feeling more adventurous it is possible to hire kayaks and sail there yourself. Take a picnic, and explore the islands where notable attractions include a fort and a monastery with a vineyard.
It is easy to see neighbouring Italy’s influence on the area, with the strong espressos and relaxed way of life. Tasting ice cream here is a must, with various gelaterie scattered across Antibes serving up to hundreds of flavours. The oldest and most famous in the Cote d’azur is Fennochio in Nice.
How to get around
For those on a budget there is a very cheap public transport system with €1 buses running between Cannes, Antibes, Nice and Monaco. Be aware that they aren’t always reliable though, and if you don’t feel like taking lengthy trips, often without air conditioning, the trains run a much faster, more frequent service at a higher cost.
Watch out for
1. The heat in the summer months. Air conditioning isn’t standard, and the best €20 I ever spent was equipping myself with a stand up fan.
2. The cost of living is more expensive, expect to pay similar prices in clubs and bars as you would in Paris (€3/4 for a coke, €20/30 club entry)
3. And finally: you’re in the South of France, make the most of it! Have a good time, explore the area and don’t forget the suncream!!