Renowned for its wealth and prestige, the city of Cannes is less superficial than it might initially appear.
Cannes is a city in a commune of the same name on the French Riviera. Known the world over as home to arguably the most famous film festival in the world, the city is a go to destination for the rich and famous as well as those looking to spot celebrities and stars. With year-round mild weather, a picturesque port and old town and glamourous entertainment establishments, it is popular with visitors from January to December and is especially busy in the summer months. It is not the most culturally-rich destination, but if you are looking for a great climate and a touch of chic for your holiday then you cannot go wrong with Cannes.
A good place to start your Cannes adventure is on the Promenade de la Croisette, the seafront walkway along which locals and tourists alike strut their stuff and enjoy the view and sea breeze. On the opposite to the beach are luxury hotels and high-end shops as well as overly-priced restaurants and cafés where people love to watch others and flaunt whatever it is they have to show off. At the Vieux-Port you can admire the hundreds of moored luxury yachts although if you prefer to be on the water then think about doing a cruise which could include lunch or dinner, live music, sunset views and even fireworks. As well as cruises around Cannes, you can also catch a boat to nearby Monaco and St. Tropez. Other entertainment options include the casinos and of course the beach, although there are mostly private and cost a fortune to access.
Although Cannes is not much of a cultural destination, there are several museums in the town worth visiting. One of these is the Musée de la Castre and La Tour Carrée where you can see a colleciton of art and objects from Oceania, the Himalayas and the Americas. You also have the Musée de la Mer, which exhibits archaeological findings from around the Ile Sainte Marguérite, and the Centre d'Art Malmaison which has some Picassos and Matisses amongst its collection.
And if you are courageous enough you can always come to town for the film festival and try and spot celebs and soak up the glamourous atmosphere, although this is the most expensive time of year to go to Cannes and the city is a completely different place.
The old town of Cannes is known as Le Suquet and although to some extent a tourist trap, it is nonetheless a quaint area with surviving ramparts and several points of interest, such as the Notre-Dame de l'Espérance church, completed in 1646 after 100 years of construction. From up here, there is a fantastic view of the town and the coast. There are some other churches of interest too in Cannes including Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage, Saint Joseph, Sainte Marguérite la Bocca and Saint Georges.
The Marché Forville is the town's covered market and offers a huge variety of local produce, including fresh catches of the day, seasonal products and flowers. Open everyday from 7.00am to 1.00pm, it is very much at the heart of the town. On Mondays the hall is transformed into a giant bric-a-brac.
Just off the coast of Cannes are the Iles de Lérins, composed to two islands, the Ile Saint Honorat and the Ile Sainte Marguérite. The former is still very wild and has a monastery where monks still live and sell local produce and a ruined castle. The other, larger island, also has a castle and it is possible to swim in its coves. Ile Sainte Marguérite was also home to the Man in the Iron Mask, of whose identity no one is really sure.
Getting to Cannes from the UK is best done by flying to either Nice (half an hour away by road) or Marseille (a couple of hours away by car). If you are arriving from within France then the city's TGV station has connections with most big French cities.
If possible, avoid driving in Cannes, if only to avoid the exorbitant parking costs. You should also avoid eating in restaurants in the old town, le Suquet, and along the waterfront as the quality is mediocre and the prices high. If you do want to try once then opt for a drink only - it is, still, a great place for people watching.
Unless you do not mind paying sky high prices for hotels or want to spot as many celebrities as you can, then avoid Cannes during the film festival, the busiest and most expensive time of the year.
Otherwise, you should take the same precautions here as you would anywhere else whilst on holiday. Do not flaunt large amounts of money in public (aside from in the casions!) and pay attention to your personal belongings.
Cannes as a town has no specific specialities although there are plenty of regional dishes that can be found across Provence, as well as all of the usual typical seaside fish and seafood fare. Examples of the dishes which you will be sure to find on restaurant menus, and which you should try, are bouillabaisse (a fish soup), panisses (fried rolls of chickpea flour cut into slices), pissaladière (Nice's answer to the pizza) and pan-bagnat, a sandwich of veg and olive oil. You might also like to try ratatouille, Provencal tomatoes (stuffed with breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic), truffle-based dishes and sweets such as calissons and as well as fruit such as strawberries from Carpentras and melons from Cavaillon. There are several cheeses from the region too, such as banon or picodon and alcohols such as pastis and several wines. While you will of course find plenty of restaurants to eat in, bear in mind that Cannes is not the cheapest place in France and that many of its restaurants are more for people watching and to be seen in than actually sitting down to a good meal. Locals tend to hang around the rue d'Antibes, the Marché Gambetta and the rue des Frères Pradignac.
Cannes is not really a place you will find a lot of touristy shops selling tac - it is a more classy place where people come to enjoy the highlife rather than spend their time visiting monuments. Aside from a nice tan and good memories, the best thing to bring back is food items or clothes from the designer shops that Cannes has in abundance. You will find food stuffs, such as cheeses and wines, all around the town and do not worry about buying cheese at the last moment before returning home as most cheese shops will be happy to vacuum pack it for you for a nominal cost. You will also be able to find some typical Provencal products such as lavendar, embroidery and endless cigalle-, or cicada-, themed ceramics and others.
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