Image by Lille-based illustrator Leonard Dupond

The Insider Guide to Cannes

Cannes, synonymous with the namesake film festival, doesn’t just roll the red carpet for celebrity arrivals: it radiates glam all year round. But the appeal isn’t just in opulent hotels and fancy cars (or yachts), the old red-roofed buildings, idyllic beaches and museums are worth the visit alone.

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The Main Attractions

Sitting pretty on the French Riviera, Cannes conjures up images of ultimate luxury, with mega yachts in the bay, supercars lining the streets, and exclusive hotels and nightclubs where famous folks party. Yet, while you can find the A-list charm centred around the harbour and the designer boutiques of La Croisette, there’s so much more to this city than the glitzy rep. Once a sleepy fishing village, Cannes became a tourist destination in the19th century, when the picturesque beaches, beautiful buildings, laid-back life and warm winters attracted the British elite. The arrival of the railways put Cannes on the map, as did writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who described this pocket of paradise as “a playground for the world”. Take a wander in the footsteps of visitors of old with a trip to l’Église Notre-Dame de l’Espérance, a gothic 17th-century stone church offering impressive vistas over the Vieux Port (harbour) and the Old Quarter, Le Suquet. Get lost among the enchanting 19th-century pastel-coloured shuttered houses, friendly bistros spilling onto the streets and wrought-iron balconies dripping in flowers. Not sure where to start? The neoclassical Hôtel de Ville is a prime example of the architectural heritage of the city. For more of a cultural dive, visit the semi-ruined medieval castle, the monastery of Lérins, home to the Musée de la Castre, or Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet. Alternatively, jump on the 15-minute ferry to the Îles de Lérins and visit the impressive Fort Royal on Ile Ste Marguerite, with Roman bathrooms and prison cells. The islands also offer some amazing photo ops, with crumbling cliffs, azure shores and old architecture, such as the 15th-century fortified monastery on Ile St Honorat. Back on the mainland, head to the Plage du Midi or Palm Beach to soak up some sun, pick up some fresh food at Marché Forville, take a stroll down Rue d’Antibes, visit the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès (site of the iconic film festival) or head back to La Croisette for some celebrity spotting, after all, you never know who will be in town. Ready to book your ticket and live your best jet-set life? Keep reading for more insider tips.

Neighborhoods in Cannes