There are lots of reasons to visit Cannes – the festivals, the beaches, the sights and the scenery. Here’s our list of the top 10.
Cannes is well-known for its festivals. Aside from the annual advertising festival, which is legendary in its own right, there are two that are open to everyone. The Cannes Film Festival attracts everyone who is anyone to the annual event for film and even if you can’t get a ticket, it’s a great time to celebrity-watch. The Yachting Festival takes place every year in September, when the latest grand yachts are paraded out to the public and 2017 will be the 40th anniversary event. Both are very chic events and a great reason to visit Cannes at least once.
Cannes is full of beautiful beaches. If you don’t want to pay to hang out at the beach, make your way to a public one. People love Plage de la Bocca, Plage du Midi and Palm Beach. The latter is on the headland in Cannes and loved by families. If you are after a more exclusive experience, visit Plage du Goeland, where you can hire a sun-lounger, reserve a table for lunch, hide your valuables in a locker and have waiter service bring you your cocktails. Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date details of opening hours and menus.
The Marché Forville
Cannes has some lovely food markets, not least the Marché Forville. It’s open for antiques on a Monday, but every other day, it’s where you can find seasonal fruit and vegetables grown by local farmers. Many sell cooked meats, seafood and other homemade delicacies. The Forville Market is also the best place to find socca, the local delicacy. It’s a chickpea pancake, fried over a very hot heat, and served much like a crepe in a paper wrapper.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun, 7am to 1pm. Closed Mondays.
Cannes has some wonderful architecture, from the old – in the small neighbourhood of Le Suquet – to the grander opulence of the buildings on the Croisette. Make sure you visit the old fortress, Musée de la Castre, and the church, Notre-Dame D’Espérance. If you want grander buildings, walk along to La Malmaison, the museum of contemporary art or the InterContinental Carlton. Both were built in the 19th century and are great examples of belle époque architecture (the period between the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and World War One in 1914).
The colourful history
Cannes has some interesting history regarding the people who came to make the town their home. Arriving in the 18th century for winter, expats from many countries came for the marvellous weather and amazing scenery. Many of them never left. English Chancellor Lord Brougham was forced to stop in the little village of Le Suquet (before it became the bigger town of Cannes) on his way to Italy, because of a cholera outbreak. It was the 1830s and he loved everything about Cannes so much that he bought a lot of land and built Château Eléonore here, in honour of his daughter. Others followed suit. Russian dukes partied, the future King of England met his mistress, and Prime Minister Gladstone recuperated from an illness. Heady stuff.
The Lérins Islands
Just off the coast of Cannes, there is a group of four islands, two of which are big enough for a visit. It’s just a short ferry ride away. Sainte-Marguerite is the biggest and offers great picnic spots. The island of Saint-Honorat has an old fortress, at the edge of the sea. It also has an old abbey, where monks still take a vow of silence and have been harvesting grapes for centuries. You can wander around the abbey, have lunch and sample the wines. Stop in the old port to take some lovely photos.
The national park
Cannes has a national park with over 100 acres of lush grassland and vegetation to roam around. The land was bought by Lord Brougham and is where he laid out his grand home, Château Eléonore, after he fell in love with the place in the 1830s. You can now hike around the area and see for yourself why he loved the place so much. It’s a great place to picnic and a wonderful change of scene from the usual Cannes activities.
There are a number of wonderful sculptures and statues in Cannes, notably Atlante, the mermaid girl who watches over the coastline and reminds everyone to be protective of the sea. It has some wonderful museums, like the Malmaison, which curates interesting exhibitions of modern art and many independent art galleries, making there a thriving contemporary art scene to discover.
The restaurants and bars
The French Riviera is adored for its love of food. Cannes has a great selection of seafood restaurants, great bars and wonderful cafés. Renowned for its love of desserts and chocolate, the city has several outlets of high-end Parisian patisseries (cake shops) selling homemade state-of-the-art chocolate creations, macarons and desserts.
The cookery courses
Cannes offers many cookery experiences where you can learn to prepare Mediterranean food like a local. Many places are a slight drive out of town, like the chocolate workshop in Vence, Entre Mes Chocolats. If you head to the small town of La Colle-sur-Loup, you can learn to cook in the Provençal countryside with Notes de Cuisine. Alternatively, stay in town and take a course with La Serviette Blanche, which runs cookery courses in chefs’ homes, masterclasses in making desserts, or tours round the local markets.