What to see in France

Cannes

Tourist attractions Cannes

Famed for its international film festival, Cannes is a resort town on the sunkissed French Riviera, situated just south of Antibes. This glamorous seaside town grew out of a once humble fishing village, and today is a favourite destination of the rich and famous. By the end of the 19th-century, the area began to gain a reputation as an exclusive getaway, attracting the English aristocracy who built palatial winter homes there. Many of these fabulous villas and mansions still exist today for visitors to admire if they travel to Cannes. 

At the heart of Cannes is La Croisette Promenade, bathed in Mediterranean sunshine and lined with palm trees. This street is home to luxury hotels and a long stretch of golden sand beach, which overflows with sunbathers, shaded by multi-coloured umbrellas, during the high-season. Strolling along the central promenade you’ll come across some of the city’s most notable sights such as the Cannes Walk of Fame, the City Hall and the Palais des Festivals, where the annual Cannes Film Festival takes place. 

You don’t need to be a member of the super-rich to visit Cannes and enjoy the wonderful sights and scenery. Although the city has a glamorous reputation, you can visit Cannes cheaply as the beaches and landmarks are free to enjoy and accommodation prices fluctuate throughout the year. The best time to travel to Cannes is at the end of summer, and the beginning of autumn, when the high-season is over. Of course, visiting during festival season is an exciting prospect, as the city fills with famous faces, but comes with a hefty price tag. 

With a port bursting with luxurious super-yachts and streets filled with Ferraris and Porsches, a holiday to Cannes is all about enjoying the finer things in life. The place to be for the super-rich, Cannes is still a fun place to explore even if you’re on a budget. On a sunny day, Cannes is a continental paradise, whether youre sipping a cocktail on the Plage du Midi, shopping in the countless designer boutiques or exploring the medieval streets of the Le Suquet Old Quarter. Cannes is small enough to discover on foot, and walking through the historic back streets is where you’ll encounter the most memorable quirky shops and local eateries in the city.

What to see in Cannes

Although Cannes is a great place to enjoy a beach break, there’s plenty to see to keep your sightseeing schedule busy. One of the best things to do in Cannes is to explore the neighbourhood of Le Suquet. This historic part of the city oozes authentic charm and is a window into the Cannes of old. The birthplace of the city, in Le Suquet you’ll find steep cobblestone streets, pastel-coloured houses and the hilltop Château de la Castre, home to a museum. With a heritage stretching back to Roman times, the photogenic lanes of Le Suquet are a must-see on a tour of Cannes.

Another important destination to explore the history of Cannes is the island of Saint Marguerite. Located just a 15-minute boat ride from the port and nestled in the Bay of Cannes, Saint Marguerite was the site of a fortress prison where the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask was held in the 17th-century. Inhabited since the Roman era, this little island escape is the perfect day trip destination if you are visiting Cannes. If you travel to Saint Marguerite you can explore the dingy cell where the famous prisoner was held before relaxing on the rugged coastline or strolling through the wooded interior, filled with sweet-smelling pine trees. 

Back on the mainland, a trip to Cannes should include at least a few museum visits and the Centre d’Art La Malmaison is one of the prestigious. Perched in an exclusive location on La Croisette Promenade, this former hotel turned art gallery showcases chic and impressive works from the 20th and 21st centuries. The minimal interior and faded elegance of the facade is very fitting of the trendy side of Cannes. Up in the heights of Le Suquet, you’ll find another cultural gem, the Castre Museum, housed within a medieval tower. Inside you’ll find art from around the Riviera as well as an ethnographic exhibition.

Of course, you cannot mention visiting Cannes without speaking of the world-famous Cannes Film Festival.  Held annually in May in the Palais des Festivals, if you are lucky enough to travel to Cannes during the festival season you’re in for an unforgettable experience. Dress to impress and you might just be able to bag a ‘golden’ ticket for a film screening or at least visit the exclusive Hotel Carlton for a fancy cocktail whilst looking out for famous faces.

Finally, if the hustle and bustle of Cannes has you craving a slice of nature, head to the La Croix des Gardes Nature Park, just a few minutes drive from the port, perched on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This natural haven is home to acres of grasslands with tree, wildflowers and footpaths for laid-back strolls. In the neighbourhood, you’ll also find some of the most opulent villas on the riviera, such as the famous Castle of la Croix des Gardes and Villa Rothschild.

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