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10 Top Hidden Gems in Cannes

10 Top Hidden Gems in Cannes

Picture of Alex Ledsom
Updated: 29 January 2018

Cannes is one of France’s most well-known cities, famous for its film festival, yachts and beachside chic. There are some hidden gems to find though, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper.

Lérins Abbey

You have to take a boat to Lérins Abbey from the port, so it’s well off the beaten track. It’s on the island of Saint-Honorat and was built in the 5th century. Monks have been here ever since, presiding over their wine exports and taking a vow of silence. They have a restaurant and, if you’re willing, you can stay in retreat here, walking the calm coastline.

Abbaye de Lérins, Ile Sainte-Honorat, France

The Island of Saint-Honorat | brunoatty1/Pixabay

Sainte-Marguerite Island

You’ll find the island of Sainte-Marguerite next to the island of Saint-Honorat. There are four islands just off the coast of Cannes and this is the largest (two of them are too small to visit). It has some lovely beaches and old buildings and is a great place to take a time-out from busy Cannes.

Ile Sainte-Marguerite, France

Pétanques on the Croisette

The Croisette is Cannes’ most famous street and, much like the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, it is never quiet and certainly not hidden. However, most people bypass the little space where people play pétanques, the French national past-time. Buy an ice cream and relax in the shade watching other people taking something very seriously. A perfect pit-stop.

La Croisette, Cannes, France

Take some time out on Cannes’ Croisette to watch the pétanque | Charlemagne/Pixabay

La Croix-des-Gardes

Just outside of the town centre is La Croix-des-Gardes, 136 acres (55 hectares) of public forest and woodland. At that size, it’s hardly hidden but it’s often foregone for the more famous sights. It’s free to enter and a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic with all the delicious food you bought in the markets. It has a huge cross (la croix) at the top of the hill, hence its name.

La Croix-des-Gardes, Cannes, France

Musée de la Castre

In the 12th century, monks built a castle on the top of the hill that overlooks the View Port. Now known as Musée de la Castre, its chapel, Saint Anne, has great views over the city. While it won’t take long to visit, it offers some great art, donated by a local Baron in the 19th century.

Musée de la Castre, Cannes, France

There are great views to be had from the church tower | Creative Commons/Pixabay

Chez Theresa in the Marché Forville

Socca is the local chickpea pancake that can be found along this part of the coast, but the most hidden place to find it is in the Marché Forville at Chez Theresa. Theresa – either the original or someone helping her – has been selling socca from her cart here for the past few decades and it’s delicious.

Marché Forville, 5–11 rue Marché Forville, Cannes, France

Le Cannet

One wouldn’t call Le Cannet a small neighbourhood, but it is often overlooked by visitors during a short stay in Cannes. It’s north of the city centre and full of art galleries and craft shops. Head here for a taste of local life away from the tourists.

Le Cannet, Cannes, France

Palais Bulles

In neighbouring Théoule-sur-Mer, high in the hills overlooking the bay, is the quirky Palais Bulles (Bubble House). It was designed for French fashion designer Pierre Cardin and, while it’s private property, it’s an amazing architectural sight to behold. Each building is circular, pink and linked to the next, surrounding two pools and a lush garden.

Palais Bulles, Cannes, France | © Remy Fay

Cannes’ most famous market, the Marché Forville, is always full of tourists and locals, and rightly so. However, if you’re looking for less touristic prices and a more relaxed local vibe, head to the neighbourhood of La Bocca. They have fresh fruit, vegetables and also deli and fish counters. The Saturday market is the biggest and also sells clothes.

Villa Kazbeck

Built by a Russian duke, this grand house is worth a view for its reputation as much as its architecture. It was a winter residence with 25 bedrooms, called Kazbeck after the highest mountain in Georgia. Duchess Sophie was a grand entertainer and hosted many high-profile guests here, including Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales, where he met his mistress, Mrs Keppel. It’s off the beaten track.