For two weeks in May, life in Cannes is turned upside down by the presence of numerous paparazzi, big names in the film industry, and the world’s biggest stars for the famous International Film Festival. The rest of the year, the city is a real pleasure garden for the richest people in the world, but also a dream place for people seduced by the glamor of the city of Cannes.
Take a look at the prices of the palaces on the Croisette, walk the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals and Congresses, and discover the authentic side of Cannes by visiting the Marché Forville and the old quarter of Le Suquet.
Let’s discover without further delay the best places to visit in Cannes:
1. Le Suquet
To the west of the port is the first neighborhood of Cannes, built on a hillside, and whose structure of small streets has not changed for hundreds of years. If you go out to dinner in a restaurant in the evening, chances are you will spend some time in the rue Sainte-Antoine, a street located at the top of the hill and lined with old fishermen’s houses.
Let your curiosity guide you and climb the stairs that will gradually lead you past walls painted in ocher and dotted with bougainvillea flowers, to finally arrive at the Place de la Castre. On this square, you can enjoy the terraced gardens that border Notre-Dame d’Espérance and admire the port, the Palais des Festivals as well as the arch of the Croisette below.
2. La Croisette
Let’s say it’s a bit of a cliché, but this beach and this walk is the place to go when visiting Cannes. You won’t find a more posh place than this one; on the other side of the Boulevard de la Croisette, you’ll find high-end fashion boutiques lined up next to each other, while on the shore there are private beaches with fine golden sand.
Further west, near the Palais des Festivals, the public beach is the furthest away and, as with all the beaches on the coast, people flock there during the summer months. But it’s the price to pay (and even the high price if you go to a private beach) to taste the charm of the French Riviera.
3. Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes
The place where the Cannes Film Festival takes place has been photographed so many times that it has become a kind of universal reference. You can take a tour of the Grand Auditorium, in the footsteps of the world’s most famous personalities, where some of the most important events in the recent history of cinema have taken place.
Of course, you will have the opportunity to walk the red carpet on the stairs leading up to the Grand Auditorium via the Boulevard de la Croisette promenade. You won’t run into any paparazzi in the vicinity, but you may ask the person accompanying you, or even a passer-by, to take a picture of you on these famous steps.
4. Le Festival international du Film
In mid-May, the most famous film festival in the world transforms the city of Cannes with a selection of upcoming releases and the awarding of the famous Palme d’Or to the most successful films. It takes place at the same time as the Marché du Film, which is considered the largest film market in the world, where thousands of filmmakers, distributors, and other industry professionals meet and build relationships.
What does it mean to us mere mortals if we are not accredited? In fact, for two weeks, a special event is organized around the Film Market and you will have a great chance to meet celebrities. If you’re passionate about cinema, you can also attend paid screenings of former Palme d’Or winners on the Croisette at night.
5. Marché Forville
Every morning, you can take a trip through Provence without even leaving Cannes. Just visit this covered market, where seasonal products and regional flavors come from all over the south of France. It is also a favorite place for locals, which is great because glimpses of daily life are rare in this posh city.
There are fruits, vegetables, flowers, and aromatic herbs, but also home-made sweets, truffles, and refined olive oil. You can even enjoy a good glass of wine in one of the bars just outside while enjoying musical performances on Saturdays and Sundays. The food market is held daily, except on Mondays when a flea market is held on-site.
6. L’Île Sainte-Marguerite
Only 15 minutes by boat from the old port of Cannes, the island Sainte-Marguerite is the closest of the two Lérins islands. It is the perfect option if the beaches and streets of Cannes are a little too crowded: The island has a deep and aromatic forest with umbrella pines and eucalyptus trees, which allows you to isolate yourself even on busy days.
Here again, there is a historical interest: The 17th century star-shaped Royal Fort is located on the north coast, where prisoners like the mysterious man in the iron mask were kept. Today it is an entertaining maritime museum that exhibits objects recovered from local Roman and Moorish shipwrecks.
7. L’Île Saint-Honorat
The neighboring island of Sainte-Marguerite has a different flavor as it was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 1,600 years. A monastery was founded on this island in the year 410 by Saint-Honorat. Honoratus as well as a monastic community quickly formed around it. Since then, murderous raids and expulsions have taken place on the island, although there is still a large Cistercian community that survives today thanks to the sale of homemade honey and wine.
On a walking tour, you can see the picturesque ruins of various abandoned chapels, as well as the ruins of a ball over from the Napoleonic period.
If you have time, feel free to visit the interior of the Lérins Abbey and the spectacular 15th-century fortified monastery on the south coast.
8. Musée de la Castre
After climbing the Suquet hill, you can enter this museum, which is located in one of the few medieval buildings in Cannes, a fort built in the 11th century to defend the bay.
The city’s public collections are exhibited here and are very varied, including primitive art from pre-Columbian America, Oceania, the Himalayas, and the Arctic, ancient objects from the Mediterranean, musical instruments from all over the world, and three rooms devoted to 19th-century French landscape paintings around Cannes and on the French Riviera.
At the end of your visit, you can climb the 109 steps from the top of the square tower to admire the view of the bay from the terrace.
9. Église Notre-Dame-d’Éspérance
Next to the old fortress, you can brave the heat for a few minutes in this solemn Gothic-Renaissance style church, built in the 1500s. From the outside, it looks austere, but you will still find something to arouse your interest inside.
In the Baptismal Chapel, there is a 16th-century Burgundian sculpture of Saint Anne, the Virgin, and Child Jesus.
Just above the entrance, there is a beautiful Pavia organ added in the 19th century.
Plan your visit for Christmas and you will have the opportunity to take your kids to see the musical crib, which was made in the 1920s and has about 200 figures, some of which are mechanical.
10. Villa Domergue
In the calm of the hills behind Cannes is a manor house of style ” Art et Déco ” which combines both the modern and the old. Inspired by the Venetian palaces, it was built by the painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue in 1934. His wife, Odette Maugendre, who was a sculptor, designed the magnificent Mediterranean-style terraced gardens, while the entire property has been the site of legendary celebrations on the French Riviera.
Bequeathed to the city in the 1970s, it is now a sophisticated venue for musical events such as Jazz à Domergue, and where the jury of the Cannes Film Festival retire for their deliberations.
Take a tour of the villa and discover the Bay of Cannes from the exquisite balustrades of the terraces.
11. Luxury Shops
Starting from La Croisette, you will find a commercial space where all the top-of-the-range brands are present.
Impossible not to feel a little underdressed when you rub shoulders with the brands Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Miu Miu, Bulgari, or Prada. In fact, you could walk for almost an hour and pass nothing but luxury boutiques.
Most of the time you will be window-shopping in this part of Cannes, unless you have expensive consumption habits or are extremely wealthy, although seeing how the other half of the population lives can be educational. This is especially true for the Carré d’Or, located between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, where luxury jewelry stores rub shoulders with the city’s most select bars.
12. Rue d’Antibes
Located a few streets away from the Croisette and parallel to the bay, the rue d’Antibes is a long shopping street with major international brands such as Desigual, Lacoste, Mango, and Sephora, as well as French brands such as Fnac and Devernois. So you can go shopping in Cannes without going broke or being turned away before you even enter the store! The location being particularly chic, your outing will be all the more special.
And to vary the pleasures, you will also find bakers and luxury chocolate makers scattered among the stores.
13. Les Murs peints
Since 2002, the city has begun to take its place in the world cinema and to produce large murals depicting actors, characters, and scenes from popular films. For example, on Vallombrossa Boulevard you can see a painting by Charlie Chaplin and “The Kid” on a strip of celluloid. Several of these paintings have a trompe-l’oeil aspect, such as Harold Lloyd’s painting of Louis Braille, which illustrates the silent star hanging from the hands of the clock, as in the 1923 film Safety Last.
Finally, if you’re a movie car enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the fresco in the Berthelot-ex Diabolika parking lot where you’ll find the Batmobile, Travis Bickle’s Taxi, and Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino.
Things to do Around Cannes :
1. Sentier du Littoral au Cap d’Antibes
Here is another way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cannes to enjoy a natural and wonderful setting in complete tranquility. The coastal walk at the bottom of the Cap d’Antibes runs along the steep and rocky shoreline.
At times, the walk is so exposed to the weather that the path is sometimes closed when the winds blow strongly. However, if you go east of the cape, the weather conditions will be calmer and you will find places where you can sunbathe on the rocks and swim in sparkling waters.
During the summer period, there are two things you should plan for: Good walking shoes and bathing suits. Indeed, the sea will be very attractive on a very hot day.
2. Le Nomade et Port Vauban
The wealth that is exposed in the port of Antibes will take your breath away. It is one of the most expensive places in the world to moor your boat, with rates exceeding one million euros. And some of these boats will leave you speechless; they look more like ocean liners than private yachts and belong to the richest people in the world.
The Quai des Milliardaires, which is aptly named, offers the best exhibition, although there is also an exciting public work of art on display. The nomad is the giant figure of a person looking at the Mediterranean. And it is important to know that this figure is made up of hundreds of white letters.
Created by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, this work is simply magical in the evening when it is lit from the inside.