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Cannes is known to come alive at night, with its renowned annual film festival, glamorous parties and prestigious nightlife. However, among the hustle and bustle, it is possible to find peaceful relief in this seaside town. Here’s how to get a healthy dose of rest and relaxation on the French Riviera.
Whatever your ideal form of wellness is, Cannes is filled with plenty of options for health-conscious travellers. From decadent day spas outfitted with seawater swimming pools and seaweed body treatments to intrepid hikes over volcanic mountain ranges, it’s easy to recharge in this charming city.
Le Thermes Marins de Cannes at the Radisson Blu
Situated just a five-minute walk from La Croisette, Le Thermes Marins de Cannes spa at the Radisson Blu hotel has exceptional facilities. So much so, the spa won Best Luxury Thalasso Spa Resort in 2018 at the World Luxury Hotel Awards. Sit back and relax at the Roman baths that overlook the sea, or take a plunge into the outdoor seawater pool surrounded by reclining loungers. With 46 treatment rooms with a range of services, treat yourself to a seaweed and algae wrap or a sea-salt scrub. Within tens of metres of the Mediterranean Sea, the spa has a traditional Turkish hammam and a Japanese-style onsen on offer for guests. Despite its large size, the wellness centre doesn’t feel expansive; each corner of the spa feels relaxing and private. For guests who plan to stay a while, there is also a gym, hairdresser and restaurant on-site.
Thermes Marins Monte Carlo Wellness Centre
Located in nearby Monte Carlo, in the tiny principality of Monaco, the iconic four-star Hotel de Paris is home to an expansive four-storey, 7,000-square-metre (75,000-square-foot) spa complex that is worth the trip. Having recently undergone a luxurious renovation, the spa offers cutting-edge treatments in refined surroundings – complete with pink marble walls and panoramic sea views. Take a dip in the outdoor and indoor seawater swimming pools, which look particularly resplendent at sunrise and sunset. For sweeping views of the harbour, have a soak in the raised hot tub that overlooks this city state.
Just a short drive from the Cannes’ coastline is a rugged, remote landscape of natural pools, water chutes, bubbling cascades and natural Jacuzzis. This natural rock formation and expanse of bathing pools is an excellent spot for snorkelling and swimming. In the secluded basins, visitors can slide down rocks and swim up gentle streams that flow through the mountainous country terrain. Be sure to pack a picnic, and make a day out of it.
Mercantour National Park
Less than an hour’s drive from Cannes, Mercantour National Park is ideal for hikers and walkers looking to explore France’s natural landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to red-rock valleys. One of 10 national parks in the country, the site contains eight valleys over 685 square kilometres (268 square miles) of land, with hiking paths for walkers, runners and explorers of all levels. Surprisingly, Mercantour National Park is also a foodie paradise. Local shepherds tend to their sheep here, beekeepers watch over hives, and cheesemakers walk their cows up and down the rocky terrain. Come here to hike the pastures, but make sure to also visit the park’s perched villages. The national park is home to several tiny towns that sit high on clifftops.
Massif de l’Esterel
The Massif de l’Estérel is an expansive volcanic range, covering 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) of land. Much of it is protected by the French government, so expect well-maintained land with a diverse array of flora and fauna. The park offers guided or self-guided tours for all kinds of adventurers, including mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers. But not all hikers need experience: there are many easy trails perfect for a midday stroll, like the Pic de l’Ours and Pic du Cap Roux. If you’re looking for a slightly harder hike that requires a bit more commitment, sign up for a three-hour guided walk with a ranger at the Office National des Forets, or at the Saint-Raphaël Tourist Office. The park is also home to 30 different beaches, ranging from sandy to pebble-covered.
Vinyasa Yoga Studio
Though the heart of Cannes is anything but quiet, the Vinyasa Yoga Studio in the centre of the city acts as a tranquil paradise for weary travellers. With a focus on small class sizes, qualified teachers guide students through each practice. Expect a range of classes, from hatha and vinyasa to yoga flex, and even calming mental detox sessions. In between classes, recharge in the lounge with herbal tea and yoga books.
Alternatively, you can skip the studio and head to Cannes’ famed beaches for a morning flow with Beachside Yoga. Sessions begin with deep breathing, followed by instructors guiding you through a series of asanas. The class then concludes with meditative relaxation, all while the waves crash on the beach in the background. All you need is exercise clothes, as the instructor can provide a beach towel or yoga mat if you haven’t come prepared.
Cannes is world-renowned for its long strip of coastline, flanked on one side by the sea and on the other, chic hotels. The beach itself is divided into public and private. If your hotel doesn’t offer a private spot, head to the Plage Publique au Palais des Festivals. Located between La Croisette and the port, the gently sloping beach is ideal for seaside activities (though note, it’s closed during the major film and music festivals). If that is the case, Palm Beach on the tip of Cannes is the go-to spot for kite surfers, while the Plage du Midi on the western side of the city is ideal for nature lovers, as it is situated beside a park. Hike to the top of the villa, and then cool off afterwards by dipping into the water.
The beaches that line the shoreline are full of beach volleyball nets, both official and home-made by Cannes’ residents. Every year, the city sets up five beach volleyball courts across the coastline that are for public use between 15 April and 15 October. Head to Le Centre Aquatique Grand Bleu to have a game on its beach volleyball court, or alternatively, gather a few friends and pitch your own nets on a spare space of sand.
Cannes is home to two municipal tennis courts that are both within easy reach of the city centre. Cannes Garden Tennis Club boasts 16 lighted courts, including six clay and 10 synthetic resin, as well as a training wall, clubhouse and free parking. Keep an eye out for tournaments and lessons that take place frequently to practise your skills. Over at the Parc Montfleury, visitors can play on one of seven tennis courts: three clay and four synthetic resin. Suit up for friendly competitions here, as there is always someone willing to hit the ball around.