Now this city I Cannes-not wait to tell you about! (okay sorry, you’ll just have to get used to my puns)
Home to its annual film festival, rows of designer boutiques that I can only dream of shopping at and crystal clear waters, Cannes is not short of a bit of a glamour! Located on the French Riviera just 24km from Nice Côte d’Azur airport, Cannes is a global hub for the rich and famous in search of white beaches and luxury goods. In this post, I’m planning on summarising some of the best places to visit whatever your budget!
Palais des Festivals
Every May, the city hosts its infamous ‘Cannes Film Festival’ which attracts global superstars and photographers from all over the world – it is an event which, since its origins in 1946, has transformed Cannes into the glamourous metropolis it is today. For those two weeks, the place is sprinkled with stardust and the population almost triples to 200,000 people. When doing my research, I came across an interesting fact which made me realise how much of a big deal this event really is; during the 12 days in which the festival takes place, the 2km long red carpet is changed 40 TIMES (if that doesn’t scream glitz and glamour then I don’t know what does!). Even after the superstars have left, the ‘Palais des Festivals’ remains a staple attraction for tourists. Stand on the steps and imagine you’re walking up the red carpet, look out for your fave celeb’s handprint on the ‘Allée des Étoiles’ which surrounds the building or go for a guided tour of the auditorium for just €6 per person (pre-booking at the tourist office is highly advised – for more information https://www.cannes-destination.com/guided-tour/visit-palais-festival-cannes).
Promenade de la Croisette
At almost 2km long, the ‘Promenade de la Croisette’ is a long walkway which borders the shore of Cannes. Lined with palm trees and elegantly dressed couples walking their tiny little dogs, the star studded status of this city is on full show. Scattered along the promenade are single blue chairs which provide a great opportunity to sit back and enjoy the view (and a great view it is!) The seats also allow for people watching which, I have to admit, has become one of my new favourite things to do. When exploring new places, I really enjoy sitting down in a café or on a bench and just watching the world go by. I find that seeing how local people act, dress and behave gives a great insight into the culture of the place and it seems that in Cannes, wearing oversized dark sunnies and a fur coat is the way to come across as a local! ‘La Croisette’ is currently undergoing redevelopment until 2022 which aims to redesign the promenade and make the beach thicker. Although there are obvious signs of construction, do not let this put you off visiting – there is a still a great deal of untouched coastline and, as my mum always tells me, ‘everything always looks worse before it looks better’.
Places to eat
If the walk has left you feeling a little peckish, then fear not. There is an abundance of restaurants along the beach, all with private strips of sand to let you live your French Riviera dream. A cheaper (yet equally as good) option is picking up a snack from a mobile van which you can easily find along the promenade. I visited ‘kiosque 7’ where I bought a Nutella crêpe and a caramel iced frappé for just €9 (healthy eating is clearly not on my mind when I’m abroad!). I took this onto the public beach located just in front of the van and voilà – a beachfront lunch for a fraction of the price! Other restaurants which have great reviews on TripAdvisor include ‘La Casa di Nonna’, ‘Pure’, ‘Le Forville’, ‘Noisette’ and ‘Restaurant Beryte’ although I didn’t have chance to visit them myself.
The Cannes coastline is definitely not to be missed. Crystal clear waters, white sands and stunning views of the Esterel mountains, I think that this has to be my favourite stretch of beach on the Côte D’Azur. On a windy mid-November Sunday dressed in a thick coat and leggings, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the beach as much as I would have liked but that just gives me another reason to return next summer when the temperatures are more to my liking (there were actually quite a few people braving a dip in the sea so it surely can’t be thatttt bad but that life is just not for me brrrr)
Le Vieux Port
I feel like a trip to the French Riviera wouldn’t be complete without a visit to see the yachts and, unsurprisingly, Cannes’ display did not disappoint. There is a large square where you can admire the boats and get an insight into how the other half live!
Continuing to fantasise about living an extravagant lifestyle, I hit the shops. Along the ‘Promenade de la Croisette’, there is a massive row of designer stores and boutiques including the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Céline and Gucci. In fact, Cannes ranks second in France (behind Paris of course) for having the most luxury goods shops – how can you afford to miss out? Ok pardon the pun but it really is a good way to get an insight into the Cannes’ lifestyle we all dream of. After around an hour of walking down the promenade and creating an imaginary and very unlikely wishlist in my head (hey ho a girl can dream!), I decided it was about time I visited shops which catered more for my budget. Luckily for me, the ‘Rue d’Antibes’ – a long street lined with more affordable yet well known shops, given its name due to its history of being the former main road linking Cannes with Antibes – still fulfilled my spending desires whilst being much softer on my bank account! It is located just a few blocks inland and runs parallel to ‘La Croisette’ and is home to popular shops including Zara, Sephora and Pandora. It is worth baring in mind that France do not have similar trading hours as the UK on Sundays and so many of the shops when I visited were closed (this was probably a blessing in disguise knowing my spending habits).
The older part of the city – known as ‘Le Suquet’ is located to the west and features quaint alleyways and colourful houses with balconies laden with plants and motorbikes parked outside – it is so quintessentially french.
Climb the hill and you reach ‘L’Église Notre Dame d’Ésperance’ which is a catholic church constructed in the 16th century. The interior of the church is stunning and the free entry makes it even more of a must-see. There is a shuttle bus which takes you direct to the church (more details can be found on this website: https://www.palmbus.fr/en/schedules-pdf/79/navette-du-suquet/121 )
Outside the church is a viewing platform which provides brilliant views of the old port, le suquet and the coastline. However, for the most amazing panoramic views of the city, I would highly recommend visiting the ‘Musée de la Castre’. It is situated just behind the ‘L’Église Notre Dame d’Ésperance’ and includes Meditterannean antiques, old musical instruments and paintings from all around the world. Admission costs €6 but you can get this reduced to €3 if you visit on the first Sunday of each month from November-March. There are also discounts for students, people aged under 18 and groups of more than 10.
The museum is interesting but I would say that the real star of the show is the watchtower located in the courtyard at the end which provides an amazing 360°view of the city. Always up for snapping the perfect panoramic shot, I began the climb up the 109 steps of the former watchtower which was once used to look out for potential enemy attacks coming to the shore. The view from the top is incredible and I would deffo recommend visiting the museum even if it is just to see that!
This indoor market is a true feast for the senses – fish, flowers, fruit and veg were all on offer and my sister even managed to pick up a honey made from xmas trees! Open every day except Mondays from 7am-1pm, this is a hit whatever the weather!!
Iles de Lérins
If you’re staying near Cannes and have a day or two to spare, what better way to relax than go and visit a virtually uninhabited island? The Iles de Lérins consist of two islands – Ile Sainte Marguerite and Ile Saint Honorat – which you can reach in under 15 minutes by boat. The ticket office can be found in ‘Quai des Iles’ at the port and an adult ticket costs €15. I visited Ile Sainte Marguerite and spent the day wandering through the forest, exploring the ‘Fort Royal’ and relaxing on the multiple private coves around the shore (a separate blog post will be coming soon!) The islands are advertised as being the perfect relaxation spot away from busy Cannes life and they certainly are that!
So after that quick run down of the best spots to visit in Cannes, I’m sure you Cannes-not wait to visit for yourself!