© Ali Shayler
Whether you’re drawn to sapphire blue waters high in Alpine gorges, medieval perched villages with flowers climbing the stone walls, or tranquil Mediterranean islands of pine forests and sparkling coves, there are some superb day trips within easy reach of Cannes.
We’ve put together some of our favourite day trips. All are definitely within day-trip distance, but the ones further afield in Provence may be enjoyed more with an overnight stay so that you have plenty of time to relax and explore at your leisure.
The Cannes Islands
Just offshore of Cannes lie Les Isles des Lerins: a small archipelago of tranquil, forested islands which provide the perfect antidote to the crowds of the Riviera in the summertime.
Either visit Ile Sainte Marguerite with its crystal clear coves and crumbling fort, or visit the Cistercian monastery on Ile de Saint Honorat, and spend a happy day wandering through the vineyards and along the pretty coastline. Take a picnic along, pack a snorkel, breathe in the fragrant pine forest and relax into ‘the way the Mediterranean used to be’ on the enchanting Cannes Islands.
Everything's coming up roses in Grasse
Sting may have sung about the fields of gold, but in Grasse it's all about the fields of Chanel. Yes, the most famous French fashion and lifestyle brand sources its unmistakable scents from the rose fields and fragrance factories of Grasse.
Not only can you visit the 'perfumeries' but you can even create your very own scent for yourself, or perhaps a loved one back home.
The fastest and most efficient way to reach this hilltop town, which is situated to the north of Cannes, is by helicopter. But if you fancy making a real day trip out of it then why not hire a car (or a luxury chauffeur-driven car) and take to the open roads of the Riviera.
Fly high in Sainte Agnes
Sainte Agnes is the highest coastal village in all of Europe and is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in all of France.
Perched high in the steep hills behind Menton near the Italian border, Sainte Agnes is an utterly bewitching place of cool stone alcoves and high walls offering magnificent views across the Italian and French Rivieras. Spend a few happy hours exploring the narrow lanes and vaulted chambers, dipping in and out of French boutiques and glamorous art galleries.
There’s also a memorable hiking trail to the nearby village of Gorbio that’s well worth a look if you want to stretch your legs.
Gorge du Verdon
Endlessly photographed and considered one of the great sights of Europe, the Gorge du Verdon is utterly spectacular, and a day-trip never to be forgotten.
High up in the rugged mountains of Provence, a rush of shockingly aquamarine water flows through a 25 kilometre ‘Grand Canyon’ hewn through the limestone landscape. Above, medieval villages perched on rocky outcrops as if defying the laws of physics, and birds soar above sheer cliffs that rise 700m above the valley floor.
You can white water raft down the more rugged parts of the canyon, swim in the stunning blue waters of Sainte Croix Lake, or take an afternoon stroll through Castellane village.
Lavender Fields of Provence
During the Provençal summer, rolling fields of purple lavender carpet the landscape, surrounding ancient stone villages and green trees under a perfect blue sky.
One of the most delightful day trips on our list, you’ll be entranced by the vivid sight and sweet-smelling fragrance of the lavender fields of the Luberon region, whether you decide to visit the high plateaux around Sault, the base of Mont Ventoux, or the fields around Apt and Gordes.
One of the most picturesque sights to photograph is surely the lavender surrounding the Senanque Abbey near Gordes, where the purple provides a perfect contrast to the grey abbey stone or wandering the pretty village of Simiane la Rotonde. The lavender-viewing season runs from late June to early August with an expected peak in early July, while you can also see the sunflowers in bloom in July and August, making a stunning combination of bright yellow and purple.
NB. While there are organised tours occasionally from Cannes, more commonly you will find them leaving from Aix-en-Provence, which is easily reached by train.