Nestled between Cannes and Juan-les-Pins and lying at the foot of the Vallauris hills, there is something special about Golfe-Juan.
As it lies at the foot of the Vallauris hills, in the centre of a large natural harbour stretching from Cap d’Antibes to the East, to the Cap de la Croisette to the West, on the outskirts of Cannes it benefits from a sheltered position which creates the beautiful micro-climate. It boasts roughly 1km of narrow sandy beach extending in a shallow curve and lined with tall elegant palms.
Like many of the Riviera coastal towns Golfe-Juan has changed somewhat due to its growing popularity. Additional apartment complexes have been built to home the growing number of residents as well as extra hotels to cater for the many tourists who are slowly discovering this charming seaside resort.
In essence the town is made up of three main streets; Avenue de Liberté (N7) which is the main road linking Cannes and Antibes, Avenue de la Gare (that takes you down to the port) and Boulevard des Frères Roustan (N98) that hugs the old port and coastline into Juan-les-Pins.
A visit to Golfe-Juan at the height of summer is now fraught with traffic congestion and crowds. Yet it wasn’t always so. This was once a sleepy little fishing port, numbering only 180 inhabitants in the early 1900’s. Small fishing boats would be tied to wooden posts on the sandy beach, at the foot of olive trees and blackberry bushes that grew alongside.
As elsewhere with the advent of the railway it heralded in a dramatic change of pace and lifestyle along the Cote d’Azur as Paris became only 22 hours away. It also led to the beginning of a new industry: tourism. Much in the way that Cannes was “discovered” by Lord Brougham, Golfe-Juan was equally “discovered” by Juliette Adam (1836-1936).
From humble beginnings, Juliette Adam slowly imposed her name in the world of French literature, founding “La Nouvelle Revue” in 1869 and becoming the oracle of Léon Gambetta (French statesman). She had a sharp political mind and her entourage comprised of many literary and political people (George Sand, Prosper Mérimée, Adolphe Thiers to name a few).
Ill-health brought her to Cannes in 1858 where she hears that the municipality of Vallauris are distributing land in Golfe-Juan and thus decides to buy a plot upon which to build a villa. As a passing anecdote – custom had it that, in those days, women could only inherit land from Golfe-Juan as it was considered totally unusable. Men, however, automatically inherited the rich and fertile land of Vallauris as it was naturally taken for granted they were far more capable of exploiting it.
Juliette Adam’s presence in Golfe-Juan, along with the new railway, inspired more people to visit and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this charming fishing port.
Nowadays it’s a thriving resort, catering not just for local residents but holiday makers too. A railway station links the town to Antibes and Cannes and is situated just off Avenue de la Gare, and there is excellent and frequent bus service.
A range of truly excellent little specialist shops selling superb cheeses, quality local wine, wonderful bread, fresh salads, vegetables, and succulent roast chickens make it a pleasure to shop here. There is a bustling Provençal market every Friday around Square Nabonnand and for chocolate lovers, the Belgium chocolate-maker Léonidas has a small boutique here.
There are also a number of very good medium-sized supermarkets, newsagents, banks and other amenities that all go to making Golfe-Juan an exceptional sea-side resort.
If you think this resort could become your dream-escape, as with most homes, location is everything and Golfe-Juan is no exception to the rule. For example, a modern flat with one bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and reception room would be priced around €140,000 whereas a French Bourgeois style apartment within walking distance of the beach, with a 19m² terrace, one bedroom, a bathroom and a separate kitchen would be around €260,000.
On the other hand a four bedroom house with about 200m² of living space, two bathrooms, a pool, two dining rooms, a fitted kitchen, small garden and parking spaces would set you back by a good €1,000,000. There’s a good choice of estate agents and all of them speak English.
As Golfe-Juan is a seaside resort you’ll find the accent firmly placed on water sports. There are two beaches; “Plages du Soleil” and “Plages du Midi”. Here you can rent pedalos and take swimming lessons too. There are also three scuba-diving clubs, a water-skiing school and ascensional parachuting club.
You are also truly spoilt for choice in regards to restaurants. I counted at least fifty-five when I was last there. Most are located along the Vieux Port and across to Port Camille Rayon and the Théâtre de la Mer Jean Marais (exhibiting the artist’s many excellent paintings and sculptures). Others can be found more inland and along the main road. But whatever your taste and budget you’ll find something to please you.
Once the hectic summer tourist season is over, a more gentle life returns to Golfe-Juan. And September and October are wonderful months to visit it. The weather is still sublime and nothing beats sitting on a sunny terrace along the Vieux Port, enjoying an early breakfast or mid-day lunch listening to the sound of seagulls and the gently twang of main sail ropes. Divine.
Fishing enthusiasts are more than provided for as there’s a rather nifty fishing shop in Port Camille Rayon, and good fishing spots along the harbour. Notably the small green-painted light tower called “La Fourmigue” in the middle of Golfe-Juan’s bay, marks the position of a dangerous and rocky reef, but is equally home to a rich variety of fish.
You can also rent a broad spectrum of boats, ranging from bareboat, dinghies, catamarans, sail-boats or high-powered yachts, for a day or for longer – with or without a crew.
Finally, Golfe-Juan is closely entwined with the history of Napoléon Bonaparte. And perhaps this more than anything else has put Golfe-Juan firmly in the spotlight. For it is here, on the afternoon of March 1, 1815 that Napoleon landed with over 1,000 men. Every year Golfe-Juan re-enacts this event with a two-day festival. Find out more here.
Golfe-Juan Tourist Office
Bvld des Frères Roustan
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 63 73 12
No fax number
October to May:
Open every day 9am to 12am and 1pm to 5pm
June to September:
Open every day 9am to 12.30am and 2pm to 6.30pm
Closed on Sunday.