A Tour of Cannes' Statues and Sculptures

The shoal of fish was first displayed in the port of Cannes in 2006
The shoal of fish was first displayed in the port of Cannes in 2006 | © Artur Staszewski/Flickr
Alex Ledsom

Cannes, on France’s famous Riviera, always has a lot of art on display but many of the sculptures and statues are temporary and part of travelling exhibitions. Here’s a look at four much-loved permanent pieces – new and old – that you can find around the city, all of which represent things very dear to the French community and to the Cannes way of life.

The Mermaid, Atlante, in Port Pierre Canto

Cannes has its very own version of Denmark’s The Little Mermaid. At the entrance to the Pierre Canto port, there is a statue of a mermaid, called Atlante. She is 175cm high and was made out of bronze by the artist Amaryllis Bataille, to commemorate the year 2000. She stands on a rock, with scales on her legs (rather than a fishtail as most mermaids have) as she’s adapted to the land, so she can be ready to protect the ocean.

The artist, Bataille, had always been fascinated by mermaids and decided to create her to commemorate the new millennium, because in her own words, “Atlante is thinking about the losses of the last century and looks towards the new century. She is strong and brave, and determined to face the coming storms and to help us undo the damage caused by the poisoning of the oceans and the senseless hunting that threatens many marine species.” She is the only sculpture to have been placed anywhere in the waters in Cannes. A must-see.

Port Pierre Canto, Cannes

The mermaid Atlante stands ready at the port Pierre Canto to defend and protect her grande bleu (the ocean)

The Lioness With her Two Cubs, in Square Reynaldo-Hahn

In 1930, the sculptor Eugène Antoine Borga was commissioned to create a statue of a lioness with her cubs. It’s in the Square Reynaldo-Hahn, on La Croisette, close to the old-fashioned carousel. It symbolises the protection offered by a mother to her children, but also – fitting for the period just before World War II – how we all need to protect those weaker than ourselves.

Square Reynaldo-Hahn, Cannes

The statue of a lioness and her cubs on La Croisette

The Shoal of Fish, in Cannes (now Cagnes-sur-Mer)

This work of art consists of 12 fish, of different sizes, made by the artist Sylvain Subervie in 2006. Originally installed in Cannes’ old port, they have now been moved to a nearby beach, along the road in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The fish move in the wind and light up, representing the beauty and strength of the oceans and how the oceans need to be protected. The fish become almost translucent at night, representing (in the artist’s own words) how the “dumb, naive fish have been bruised by humans”.


The shoal of fish sculptures in Cannes in 2006

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (or Jeanne, to her friends) was only 17 years old when she heard voices from God, which told her to seize back French land from the English in the north of France. She sacked the local castle, was sent to the court of Charles and helped him push back most of the English from Orléans and more than 170 miles of territory. She has come to symbolise a lot for the French and many cities honour her with statues. The one in Cannes was designed by sculptor Maxime Real del Sarte in 1950. You can find it in Place Jean Hibert.

Place Jean Hibert (at the port end of Boulevard Jean Hibert)

The statue of Joan of Arc in Cannes

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