There’s always a lot going on in Cannes, so we’ve put together a list of the some of the best things to do this summer 2018.
While the town is justifiably famous for its dining, shopping, beaches and nightlife scene, we’ve also included some unexpected activities that will give you a sense of the natural beauty and local culture of this very special part of the French Riviera.
Crystal clear waters
A day at a beach club
As you lie on a striped cushioned deck chair and a handsome waiter pours you an icy-cold glass of rosé, you will wonder if life gets any better than this. With a perfect view of the sparkling Mediterranean, fine food, and some chilled out beats from the resident DJ, a day at a glamorous beach club in Cannes is truly one of life’s great pleasures.
Escape to the lake
If the beaches get too hot and crowded, escape into the nearby hills to plunge into a deep cool lake. Lac Saint Cassien is an easy 45-minute drive south-west of Cannes and is the perfect place for a relaxing picnic amongst fragrant pine forest, listening to the cicadas chirp in the sleepy midday heat. In summer there are pedalos for rent and an inflatable waterpark set up in the middle of the lake with waterslides. Why not visit one of the stunning perched villages in the hills while you’re at it?
A boat trip to the Cannes Islands
Just offshore from the golden beaches and boutiques of Cannes lie the Isles des Lerins. These tranquil islands are havens of peace and tranquillity, with crystal clear coves and pine forests easily reached from Cannes on a short and beautiful ferry ride. On Sainte Marguerite, you can visit the old fortifications where the true ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ was held, while on Île Saint-Honorat you can visit the working monastery and tour its vineyard.
Ballroom dance under the stars
The city of Cannes runs outdoor ballroom dancing, Les Squares dansants evenings in the square du Verdun on four dates in July and August. There’s a live orchestra and a bar, and ‘taxi-boys’ for those women who come along without a partner. Dress up!
Play a game of boules
Another quintessential French experience that many tourists miss out on. In Cannes there are two ‘terrains de petanque’- one near the old port and the other in Place de l’Etang at Palm Beach. You can hire equipment and get an introductory lesson for your group for of €5 at the Boules Club of Les Allees by the old port, or just turn up and find yourself a free ‘alley’ at Place de l’Etang.
Take a hike
There are some great walking trails in and around the Cannes region. Some paths follow the coastline, allowing you to enjoy the cool sea breeze and stunning views over to the Lerins Islands. Whilst others will take you inland and, normally, upwards into the hilltop villages of the Riviera. Remember to pack your sunscreen and plenty of water!
Look around you
Shop, shop, shop
You might gawk at the flagship shops along the Croissette, or wander through the upmarket high-street stores along the cobbled Rue d’Antibes. If you’re watching your holiday budget, then the good-value shops and wonderful market along Rue Meynadier might be more up your street.
Watch the sunset from the church grounds on the hill
Eglise Notre Dame Esperance is an almost 500-year-old church with a stunning view across the Bay of Cannes from its grounds. You can visit the museum in the daytime, or come up here for sunset and beyond - the church lights up beautifully at night, and there are often buskers playing music up here.
Watch the fireworks
The Cote d’Azur has the most extraordinary fireworks displays that light up the Riviera throughout the summer. Check the dates for Cannes and be sure to get a good spot to watch - for watching the fireworks explode above the fleet of superyachts and reflect across the dark Mediterranean Sea is a sight you will always remember.
Food and drink
Take a cooking class
Why not learn a local Provencal dish during an English-speaking cooking class? This quintessentially French experience is something you will be able to take home with you and is a little bit different from the normal Cannes experience of fun in the sun.
Have a cocktail in a hotel piano bar
The hotel bars of Cannes’ Belle Epoque hotels are very swish, so dress up to enjoy some music and canapés in the bars where Sinatra and Madonna once sang. Then head out to one of Cannes’ brilliant super-clubs. Read our nightlife guide for more top tips on where to go.
Eat and eat, and eat some more
There’s some truly spectacular food in this town, from fine dining gastronomy to tiny local favourites and wonderful pavement cafes. Check out some of our favourite restaurants and cafes and enjoy the taste of the Riviera.
Art and culture
Tour the murals
Cannes has a wonderful series of five colourful murals painted on buildings around Cannes, including a famous one of Marilyn Monroe. Some of them are quite out of the way, so it’s a nice introduction to parts of Cannes that you might not have otherwise seen. Last year murals of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Jane Campion's The Piano were added to celebrate 70 years of the Cannes Film Festival.
Visit Villa Domergue for a jazz concert or art exhibition
This stunning Italian villa just 10 minutes drive from Cannes hosts cultural events throughout the summer. There are stunning Mediterranean views from the ornate rooms, and the evening jazz concerts in the lush gardens are splendidly atmospheric in the long summer twilights.
Take a wander among the superyachts
A walk along the docks of Cannes’ two major ports is a must-whether it’s the huge superyachts docked by the Palais des Festival, or the stunningly beautiful classic yachts often berthed right along the cobbled street below the old town.
This is just scratching the surface of what’s on in Cannes over the summer. Check out our Cannes events for our comprehensive what’s on guide, as well as information on the best nightlife, restaurants, boat trips, accommodation, watersports and beaches to be found in Cannes.