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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Marché de La Bocca
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.