Ten things better than a hangover in Antibes

The lazy life of the average Hop Store-going, hangover-dwelling yachtie turned me off quite some time ago. Maybe it’s age. Maybe I came across too many gross, drunks in my yachting hay-day. Maybe Dry January has turned me into that bitter, tee-totaller that just wants everyone else to have a kak day too.

Whatever it is, nothing beats a big sweat. And chances are, it’ll probably be better than your hangover in Antibes.

1) Slack-line at La Garoupe Lighthouse

Slack-lining with fellow Africans: Jaime & Jenny
Slack-lining with my fellow Africans: Jaime & Jenny

We bought our 10cm-wide, 15m-long slack-line off Amazon.com for not-even €50, put on our takkies (I refuse to call them ‘trainers’ because I’m South African and South Africans call them takkies) and ran up to the Phare de la Garoupe Lighthouse. It’s only a 3,6 – 4,4km run from Antibes Old Town so you won’t break your back getting there. And I’m one of those people who’s a real stickler for lighthouses. They’re such graceful, harmless things; and they never really disappoint.

So once you’ve made it up the cobbly, tree-covered Bois de la Garope, you’ll get to a quaint, unused chapel behind the lighthouse; and it’s fully fitted with one helluva, near 360-degree view. There are two not-so-strong-looking trees just in front of the chapel; trust me, they’re still great for slacking. Occasionally, you’ll be chased away by a few moody French locals who suspect you’re about to rack-up a bong and get to it. Just ignore them and slack-line away.

2) Cycle to Italy. Eat pasta. Cycle back again.

Depending where you are along the French coastline, it only takes an hour or two to cycle into Italy; and if you’re feeling lethargic after one of those real Italian, home-made, Mamma Mia! pastas that come with the proper tomato-tomato sauce, you could always take the train back home. What a pleasure! The little towns before the border have a few hidden antique markets and the coffee’s not nearly as sour as it is in France. As you head towards Ventimiglia, ornamental purple and pink Bougainvilleas creep up the walled-in roads, while surfers and suppers hang out in the waves below. It’s post-card stuff.

Budget 42kms from Le Fort Carré in Antibes to Monaco, and another 20,5kms from Monaco to Ventimiglia along the D6007. Hire a proper bike from Cycles Antipolis in Antibes for around €50 per day.

3) Do CREW Pilates

CREW Pilates at the Promenade Courtine (Antibes)
CREW Pilates at the Promenade Courtine (Antibes)

I started CREW Pilates because I am incredibly passionate about Pilates as an effective form of exercise for yacht crew who want to strengthen their core, protect their backs and stretch-out tired and tight muscles.

The Summer Sessions in Antibes and Nice are magical — we plonk our mats in front of the sunrise, watch the day begin and train our bodies to the beauty of the morning.

These outdoor Summer Sessions run from April to October and take place at the La Reserve Rocks (Nice) and Promenade Courtine or Port Vauban ‘decking’ (Antibes). The latest training schedules are available on the CREW Pilates Facebook Page.

4) Hike the hills around Castella

The hills of Castella -- on the boarder of France and Italy
The hills of Castella — on the boarder of France and Italy

Let me take a second to tell you about our crazy French/Finnish hiking buddies: he runs 26-hour trail runs through the night because he “loves chasing after the light of his headlamp” and more recently, they went ‘skinning’ up the Canadian ski slopes together. Who does that? Anyway. They dragged us on a hike in November sometime. The areas around Castella — around the French/Italian border — are mountainous, well-marked and peaceful. If you choose to hike high up and pluck the clouds out the sky, be aware that it gets feck-cold and windy (no matter the season) so dress warmly. Pack padkos.

5) Run the Nice Promenade des Anglais

Nice is nice
Nice is nice — The organised chaos of the Promenade des Anglais

The Nice Promenade des Anglais is one big, huge mess of people doing all sorts of messy things like leaving baby-strollers in the cycle lane or tanning topless on the benches. But if you get there early enough, it’s quieter and more ‘runable’. I’ve heard the run from the end of ‘La Prom’ to Port Lympia is especially pretty.

6) Play ‘mashie’ golf

Four! Grand Bastide golf course
Four! Grand Bastide golf course

This one has to come with a disclaimer: I am terrible at golf. Absolutely terrible. Two summers ago, I was talked into taking a deckhand-slash-golfer job which meant I got to tee-off at a few of the top courses around town. Although my game still leaves much to be desired, it’s always fun to get away from the ocean for a day. Golf de la Grand Bastide in Châteauneuf de Grasse has a muck-about ‘mashie’ course, which is nine-holes long and only costs around €25 for two rounds (the second round’s free). No one gives a hoot if you take twenty shots per hole but be sure to dress like a pro. There’s also the full course at Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougins which is tightly designed but oh-so-green and gorgeous. Make sure you book beforehand.

7) Learn French

Eventually, it became too frustrating to live in France and not speak the language. So we’re hacking away at it most nights, learning a few new words everyday, mixing up our tenses and sounding like real French tits; but we’re trying. I don’t know how so many internationals get by without more than a “Bonjour.”

8) Visit Crossfit Monaco

Not my Department. Speak to Arvid and other hectic okes in the Seriously Fit Department.

9) Stand-up paddling

Sup?
Sup?

These days, most yachts have stand-up paddles (SUPs) on board and your captain won’t mind if you nick one for a few hours. If not, there’s a very pretty, very sweet life-saver lady who rents out SUPs over the summer months at La Garoupe Beach. Added to that, you can book a sunbed for the day at La Plage Keller restaurant, order a plate of fries and spend the afternoon toggling between supping and tanning. Bliss.

10) Walk up to the paragliding site

Filling the sky -- para-gliders on New Year's Day 2015
Filling the sky — para-gliders on New Year’s Day 2015

For less ambitious hikers, there’s a short trail up to the Monaco paragliding take-off site called Col de L’Arme, which is tucked just behind Roquebrune village. It’s worth going up to watch the very many para-gliders launch off the grassed slope. On weekends and public holidays, there’s a take-off almost every minute.

Have any suggestions to add to the list? Email me and I’ll include them.

More from Antibes locals:

  • Simon Steele on Facebook: “Don’t forget we have auron and Isola for a ski trip! Costs about the same as a few nights out and if you book your skis online before you go you get 30% off. Plus at 8pm on a Tuesday they do flash sale tickets at half price. So 16.50 for a day ski pass.