An Introduction & Guide to Cannes
The mild Mediterranean climate brings lush palm tree line boulevards and long balmy nights in the summer, along with perfect cycling, running and sailing conditions over the winter months.
Basking in the sun, Cannes is a city that the rich and famous have been coming to for over 150 years; it simply sparkles with glamour, whilst the grandeur of the coastal promenade (La Croisette) and the belle epoque buildings reflect it's aristocratic history. The prestigious Cannes Film Festival of Cannes takes place annually in May and has been an important event for Cannes since it began in 1946. Drawing famous movie stars from around the world to the glittering red-carpet gala, has earned the city an international reputation for promoting cinema and the art of filmmaking.
Today, Cannes is still home to the internationally wealthy who provide a ready & willing clientèle to the numerous designer boutiques, swanky bars and lavish hotels. Behind the glitz however, there is a softer side to Cannes - the district of Le Suquet is the heart of the old town and is filled with little lanes, ancient buildings and the old harbour (home to traditional fishing boats and luxury yachts).
The old town of Cannes, Le Suquet dates back to the 10th century when it was a little fishing village serving the castle of Cannes (home to the abbots of Lerins). Charming little streets lead on to picturesque squares and at the top of the hill lies the ruined 12th century castle (now host to the Museum of La Castre - containing ethnographic artefacts from Oceania & Asia). The view from the top affords La Criosette, the beach and the sparkling sea. Plenty of restaurants line the main streets of San Antoine & Rue du Suquet, a perfect place to escape the heat of the beach and enjoy a long leisurely lunch.
For foodies, Meynadier Street is an absolute must. This pedestrianized street will have your senses buzzing as you wander past enticing windows displaying the best of Provencal local produce. Wine, olive oil, honey, meats, cheeses, breads and exquisite macaroons are just a few of the delights you will see in some of the longest established delis of Cannes. There are also a few clothes boutiques and bookshops along this enchanting road on the way out of the Suquet area.
Beaches in Cannes
Cannes has several beaches to choose from, from non-smoking public beaches to glamorous private beach clubs with deckchairs, DJ's and flowing champagne. There are watersports galore, as well as beach volleyball courts that are busy long into the summer evenings.
The Ministry of Health in France provides up-to-date information regarding the cleanliness of beaches. The interactive map (which is available in English) allows you to zoom in on the beaches of interest and to review recent test results. The beaches and rivers are ranked from excellent (blue) to prohibited (pink), meaning that entering the water is strictly prohibited. The monthly testing and monitoring makes it possible to assess the effects of wastewater sanitation and dirty rainwater runoff into swimming sites.
Also see: Beaches in Cannes
Where is Cannes?
Situated on the coast in the very heart of the French Riviera, Cannes is only 24km from the International airport in Nice, making it an easy city break for most European cities. It's long seafront, or Promenade de la Croisette as it's known, curves along the length of the Golfe de la Napoule. Penned in by the Cap de la Croisette and the Lerins Islands to the east, and by Theoule sur Mer and the Pointe de la Galere to the west.
Also see: Towns & Villages in Cannes
Events in Cannes
There are two daily markets to explore and a flea market each Saturday (also Sundays on the first weekend of the month). But perhaps the best known of all events in Cannes is of course the world famous and highly glamorous annual Film Festival. You might not be able to find accommodation during this time but it is certainly worth a day trip to the town to see which celebrities you can spot!
Sights & Attractions in Cannes
When it comes to sights worth seeing, Cannes is probably better known for its belle epoque hotels and festival halls than its historical monuments. Yet if you head away from the red carpet and casinos to the old town of Le Suquet, you'll find a touch of its medieval history in its 12th century church, Notre-Dame-de-l'Espérence and Tour de Mt. Chevalier. There are some nice views to be had over the coast from the ramparts up here too.
Things to Do in Cannes
Cannes has it's share of markets featuring local produce and arts & crafts. Apart from the quintessential activity of people-watching, there are plenty of nautical adventures to be had, and there are 10 golf courses in the area. If all of that sounds too much like hard work, book yourself into one of the many spas for a day of luxury & pampering.
Of all the activities on offer in Cannes, one of the best (and definitely the cheapest) is to spend an hour or two strolling along the famed Croisette boulevard under the palms- past the grand white hotels and Palais de Festival building, past the beautiful sailing yachts clustered in the old port, and around the corner to the beach boardwalk.
For those craving nature and beauty, hop on one of the ferries over to the 'Cannes Islands'- Ille de Saint Honorat and Ille Saint Margherite. You can also catch a ferry to glamorous St Tropez from Cannes.
Restaurants in Cannes
Unsurprisingly given its glitzy reputation, Cannes has some seriously good dining on offer-for all budgets. We've got a detailed restaurant guide for you to check out here, but if you just want to wander until something strikes your fancy, Cannes is the town to do it - the narrow street running up the hill to the old town has some atmospheric restaurants, La Croisette boasts some brilliant terrace restaurants for people-watching, and Quai St. Pierre by the port is the place to head for a selection of seafood restaurants.
Nightlife in Cannes
As you’d expect, there’s no shortage of things to do at night in this town, whether you’re in the mood for a louche piano bar, exclusive nightclub or relaxed Irish pub. Dress up for the occasion at one of the three famous casinos, catch a concert or head to one of the superclubs to dance the night away under the palms. See our nightlife guide for the best of the vibrant Cannes nightlife.