How to Spend 48 Hours in Cannes

View from Le Suquet, Cannes, France
View from Le Suquet, Cannes, France | James Fenn / © Culture Trip
Alex Ledsom

Cannes offers a host of places to eat, drink and relax. Alongside rooftop bars and upmarket restaurants, you’ll find historic architecture, beautiful bays and idyllic countryside to explore. Here’s how to make the most of 48 hours in Cannes.

Morning

Go for breakfast and stroll the food markets

First, head to either the Pat & Jo Café or the Bagel Café for a light breakfast. Leave a little room in your belly; you’ll need it as you roam the Marché Forville (the main market in town) where you can taste delicious treats from the area and local delicacies, like socca (the region’s traditional chickpea pancake). It’s a great idea to buy your lunch here to eat later – choose from fresh tomatoes, meats, olives, cheese, bread and more. The market is also an ideal place to watch the world go by. On Mondays, there is a flea market here instead.

You’ll find a variety of fresh produce at the Marché Forville

Next, head to the Old Port, where fishermen have been bringing in the local catch for centuries, and marvel at the sculpture of the mermaid Atlante, which was erected to commemorate the millennium and to remind people to protect local marine life. From here, head uphill to the old part of Cannes, the district of Le Suquet. This used to be the whole town (established by the Romans and then later populated by Medieval monks) before it grew and moved down into the bay below. Visit the Musée de la Castre (the old fortress and now an art gallery) and its neighbour, the Église Notre-Dame-d’Espérance. Both give great views over the bay for that perfect Instagram-worthy shot of Cannes.

Spend the morning wandering around Le Suquet

Afternoon

Hike the national park and discover local heritage

To see a more natural side of Cannes (the glamour will come later) head out to national park La Croix-des-Gardes, which spans over 200 acres. In 1834, when Le Suquet was just a small village, Lord Henry Brougham, the ex-chancellor of Britain, was forced to break his journey here on the way to Italy. He fell in love with the place and set up home here, building Château Eléonore and laying out the surrounding grounds.

Stroll around the huge national park of La Croix-des-Gardes

Take a boat ride to a Medieval abbey and taste the monks’ wine

Just a 15-minute boat ride away from the centre of Cannes are the Îles de Lérins. The archipelago consists of four islands, including Île Saint-Honorat. Here, you’ll find the Lérins Abbey, whose monks have been producing wine for centuries. Enjoy walking around the wild coast, past the old fortress and beyond. The monks here have all taken a vow of silence, so this is a perfect pocket of calm before the night ahead.

Île Saint-Honorat is home to Cistercian monks

Evening

Have a sunset dip

It’s time for a swim. Cannes has a huge number of public and private beaches but most people flock to Plage du Goéland on the main drag. This is the perfect place to start your evening, and you can also grab a coffee pick-me-up nearby or, after swimming, your first cocktail of the night.

See out your trip with a sunset dip

Take a cooking class

For something a little different, you might want to dine at a chef’s table or take an evening cooking class. La Serviette Blanche, which is in the centre of the town, offers both of these options.

Night

It’s time for cocktails

You won’t experience the real Cannes without visiting a chic cocktail bar. First, head to one of the more lively bars for a drink with a view, like Le Roof or Zoa Bar, down by the Palais. Later, try any of the bars on Rue du Commandant André, such as Bar Lalu, or grab a drink at Brown Sugar or Le Vin sur Vin. For old-world sophistication, see in the early hours at La Chunga.

Stroll the streets

For those that don’t want to hit the bars, the evening is a great time to tick off the rest of your Cannes bucket list. Walk along the Croisette and savour the night markets in summer, and watch the jet-set go about their business. Head to the InterContinental Carlton Hotel, which plays a major part in the Cannes Film Festival, and which is also where Alfred Hitchcock filmed To Catch a Thief (1955). Then, walk the Rue d’Antibes to window shop all the designer boutiques and chocolateries, and marvel at the macarons, that quintessential French delicacy.

Be aware that a lot of shops and coffee places might close in France on Sundays (although this is increasingly changing), so if Sunday is your second day in Cannes, you might want to consider switching things around.

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