Renowned for its iconic film festival each May, it’s no surprise that Cannes has a glamorous bar scene to match. Think classy cocktail lounges with expert mixologists, chic hotel lounges and rooftop terraces with panoramic views – though occasionally also eye-watering price lists. If you’d rather duck the dress code, head to one of the city’s lively Irish pubs, knowledgeable wine shops or small cafe-bars stocked with local wines. This is a town that has a vibrant nightlife scene, though, so expect live music, sophisticated dining and late licenses even at the quietest spots.
Dress up and bring deep pockets for an evening at the bar of Cannes’ legendary five-star Hotel Martinez, perhaps the city’s most iconic bar. A firm favourite with film stars during the festival, it’s the ideal place to get a taste of the high life year-round. The decor is elegant with gold-embossed Art Deco styling, a live jazz pianist, outstanding tapas and a terrace often frequented by visiting glitterati. The bow-tied barmen have won every award possible for their innovative cocktails, so ask them to pick a favourite or try La Coquette, with gin, Benedictine, apple juice, lemon juice and honey and spices.
An unpretentious, bustling spot near the train station, Bar Le Vin 20 is a popular after-work spot thanks to an extensive wine selection, straightforward service and busy on-street terrace. Bottles of wine line the walls, but expert sommelier Léandre Piquet is always happy to recommend a glass, favouring Burgundies and Languedocs. The bar also offers an extensive choice of Provençal wines. Rarely visited by tourists, it’s a favourite of local bar owner Gary Gregg. “This is a great little wine bar with fantastic wines by the glass,” he says.
Though it might seem odd to head to an Irish pub on the French Riviera, Morrisons is a much-loved Cannes institution for anyone who wants a reasonably priced pint in a traditional pub. Right in the heart of the city off the main shopping street of Rue d’Antibes, it attracts a large Irish crowd drawn to the cheap Guinness, live music, televised sports and ever-cheery staff. For a quieter evening, head upstairs to the second floor and discover the bookcase of Irish novels over a drink.
Part wine-shop, part bar, Eta Vallauri is an intimate neighbourhood bar tucked away behind the bustling Forville Market. With a vast selection of wine including local Provençal rosé and well-priced Champagne, it’s a great place to try before you buy, then take away a whole bottle if you find one you like. Grab a seat on the outdoor covered terrace and people-watch over a glass of Syrah and a plate of cured meat and cheese. If you visit on a Friday, there is often live music in the bar. “Most of the wine the owner Didier has chosen is from small wine producers and boutique vineyards,” local sommelier Michelle Oberg says. “Sundays between 11am and 2pm are the most animated days to go, with residents enjoying the terrace and the gorgeous wines after doing their weekly shopping at the market.”
As the name suggests, this rooftop bar in the Radisson Blu 1835 hotel has a sweeping view over Cannes. Right on the edge of the port, the hotel overlooks both the pretty Old Town and the gleaming boats in the harbour, all the way to the Lerins Islands and the stately Esterel mountains beyond. Visit the nearby medieval Musée de la Castre first then arrive in good time to grab a seat and watch the spectacular sunset with a Provençal rosé served over ice.