Cannes is a lively and cozy city located on the French Riviera. Once a small fishing village, it is now a dazzling and exclusive seaside town considered to be one of the ‘happening’ places of Europe. Cannes is synonymous with the International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious events held annually. This annual red-carpet gala, which was first held after the war in 1946, placed Cannes on the globe as a charming hotspot. Cannes is a community for the rich and famous as well as globetrotters from around the world. It offers glamour, peace, super shopping, and great food.
Boulevard de la Croisette
The Boulevard de la Croisette is one of the most iconic and fashionable streets in France. Considered to be the heart of Cannes, this cultural heritage boulevard stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea from the La Roserai park to the Palais des Festivals. The Boulevard de la Croisette is a popular place for strolling and watching the glamorous residents of Cannes. The road is lined with many upscale hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Island of Saint-Honorat
The second-largest island of the Lerins archipelago located off the coast of Cannes is a walk through history. The island was uninhabited until Saint Honoratus founded a monastery on it at some time during the 5th century. One of the most notable holy men to have been educated at the abbey is Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. The island belongs to the Cistercian community (famous for their wines and olive oil), who built the huge abbey in the 19th century. The abbey is generally closed to the public but the surroundings and the fortress on the rocks can be accessed for free. The view from the top of the fortress is quite spectacular.
Beaches near Boulevard de la Croisette
Cannes is renowned for its sunny beaches but many of the beaches in Cannes are owned by hotels so they are not accessible to the general public. However, there are quite a few public beaches located around the coastline. One of the best places to enjoy the ambiance of what a beach in Cannes has to offer is to laze around on one of the public beaches off Boulevard de la Croisette. The Mace Beach and Zamenhof Beach are located off the boulevard whereas the Plage de la Croisette is located along the boulevard. There is a small fee charged for using the parasols or lounge chairs but you could just spread out your towel and relax on the fine sand for no charge at all.
The Old Town (Le Suquet)
Le Suquet is an old neighborhood of Cannes, probably best known to tourists as the climbing, curving, cobblestoned lane lined with local restaurants. The original fisherman’s’ village of Cannes has maintained much of the old world charm, and stepping into this part of the city feels like a walk back in time. The traffic-free area with its remnants of history such as the narrow old staircases and ancient walls is a tourist delight.
Island of Saint Marguerite
Just a fifteen-minute boat ride away from Cannes is the largest of the Lérins Islands, the island of Saint Marguerite. The highlight of a visit to the island is the fortress prison (Fort Royal) in which the so-called ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ was held in the 17th century. Covered with pine and eucalyptus forests and bordered with beautiful coves, this is an island for nature lovers. The waters are crystal clear, with spectacular views back to the Riviera coastline
Palais Des Festivales
The venue of the Cannes Film Festival is probably one of the most photographed spots in the city. The novelty of being able to take a selfie on the ‘red carpet’ of the 22 stairs that numerous celebrities have graced, is a key attraction. The Palais des Festivals et des Congres was built in 1982 and has since become an icon of Cannes. Besides the annual film festival, the venue is also used for various other events such as hosting the G20 Summit and the International music trade show. You can join a guided tour to see the inside of the festival building and also wander along the footpath Alle des Etoiles du Cinema to place your palm in that of your favorite celebrity’s hand imprint.
If you’re looking for a quick bargain, this street is definitely not for you. The Rue d’Antibes is an upmarket shopping area featuring haute couture from international high-street brands like Mango, Lacoste, and Sephora to name a few, alongside French brands like Devernois and Fnac. it’s a great place to go window shopping while admiring the chic location. For a little bit of indulgence, you could pop into one of the luxury bakeries or chocolatiers to satiate some of your cravings.
Musee de la Castre
The Museum de la Castre is housed in the remnants of the medieval castle of the monks of Lérins at the top of the Suquet hill, overlooking the Bay of Cannes. It showcases a fantastic collection of Mediterranean antiquities, 19th century Provencal landscape paintings and an extensive collection of musical instruments from around the world. The site which occupies one of the prime spots of the city will give you some exceptional views of the coastline and the sea. The 360-degree panorama from the top of the building’s 12th-century tower is quite stunning. However, to be able to marvel at this stunning view you will need to climb 109 steps.
The old port of Cannes located below the Le Suquet quarter is an interesting blend of money with the old world charm. It’s a great place for capturing the sunrise or sunset and also a good spot to watch the uber-rich bring in their yachts and sailboats. The Royal Regatta which is held annually begins at the Vieux Port and attracts quite a crowd.
This beautiful villa is a little off the tourist track as it’s not in the heart of Cannes but about a ten-minute drive from the main city center. Built in 1934 by painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue, the villa is a beautiful blend of the ancient and modern. It has some beautifully designed gardens by the painter’s wife, Odette Maugendre, a sculptor. The flower beds are also decorated with beautiful ceramic and bronze vases that the couple had accumulated during their travels. The villa was bequeathed to the city in the 70s and is now a venue for music events. It is also the place where the jury for the Cannes Festival meets to deliberate on the winners.
La Malmaison Museum
La Malmaison Museum, located on the La Croisette is housed in the former tea room and games room of one of 11 Best Hotels in Cannes of the 1860s, the Grand Hotel. The hotel closed down in 1950 almost a century after it was opened and was later demolished and rebuilt. The rooms were converted into a museum by the city of Cannes in 1983. Two major expositions dedicated to famous artists are hosted annually at the museum. Works of great artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Ozenfant are also showcased along with other international artists like Miro and Masson.
Croix des Gardes Nature Park and Forest
Located less than a kilometer from the Croisette, and right in the center of the town, are the lungs of the city, La Croix des Gardes. The 200-acre forest land is just a fifteen-minute walk from the town but can get a bit tiring as it is located at the top of a hill. One can avail of some spectacular views of the Bay of Cannes, the Lerins islands and the foothills of the Alps from various lookout points at the top. The Nature Park also has an arboretum which you can walk through to marvel at the 40 varieties of mimosa that are featured here. There is also a keep-fit trail that features wooden exercise equipment.
Just So You Know…
- Every day of the week, except on Monday, you can visit the famous food market in Cannes, the Marche Forville. It’s a great place for soaking in the local culture.
- During the months of July and August, the sky above the Bay of Cannes comes to life for several nights with beautiful fireworks displays by the best fireworks designers from around the world. The Fireworks Festival is a time of excitement.
- An annual classical musical festival, the Nuits Musicales du Suquet runs for a week in July outside the courtyard of the old Notre Dame d’Esperance Church.
Get Some Culture:
- Musée Bonnard – Located in the suburb of Le Cannet, about 3km north of downtown Cannes, the museum features the works of neo-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard who left Paris in 1910, to make Le Cannet his home until his death.
- Festival de Cannes – The Festival de Cannes held during the month of May is probably the most famous and exciting thing to do on the French Riviera. It’s that time of the year when movie stars and filmmakers from around the world descend on the city to celebrate cinema.
Grab A Bite:
- La Serviette Blanche – Touted as Cannes’ first and only culinary walking tour, the aim of this tour is to acquaint customers with delicious French and Mediterranean flavors that are simple yet scrumptious.
- La Toque d’Or– this restaurant is near the delightful Marché Forville. Their menu draws inspiration from the traditional Provençal kitchen but takes it in a more contemporary and fresh direction.