World famous for the film festival that makes this small town turn into the world’s most glamorous location every year in May, Cannes is the go-to place of the rich and famous. The glamorous hotels and couture shops on La Croisette are bound to impress any visitor and celebrity. Cannes’ natural beauty, its bay and harbor, the old town and the 7.5 km of sandy white beaches make it a worthwhile destination for anyone hoping to have the perfect summer getaway.
Top reasons to visit Cannes
The film festival. This is not to say that you should visit Cannes during the film festival but that this annual event put the city on the world map and gave it a cosmopolitan atmosphere. While Cannes was already a favored vacation spot for France’s aristocracy, the film festival gave the city a new life. You’ll find many international influences in the local cuisine, a thriving nightlife and entertainment scene. Take a walk along La Croisette, lined with exclusive hotels and shops, heading to Palais des Festivals, where you’ll also find Cannes’ version of the Walk of Fame.
The gastronomy. French cuisine is elevated to art in the local restaurants of Cannes, the majority of whom have at least one Michelin star. With fresh quality ingredients and a touch of fusion, the restaurant scene is among the best in the world.
The beaches. While most of Cannes’ beaches are private, belonging to restaurants and bars, there are also a few public ones. Spending a day on one of the private beaches close to Palais des Festivals and enjoying the cool atmosphere, lounge music and good food is a quintessential Cannes experience.
1. Air travel. The closest airport is Nice Airport, the third busiest in France, with several daily flights to Paris and direct connections to most major cities in Europe. The easiest way to get from Nice Airport to Cannes city center is the Express Coach, which takes about 45 minutes.
2. Boat travel. There are several marinas in the Cannes area with plenty of berths but it’s advised to make a reservation, especially from July to September. Ferries connect Port de Cannes with Nice and Corsica. Cruising to nearby destinations like Corniche d’Or, St. Tropez, and Cap d’Antibes is a wonderful way to spend time while in Cannes.
3. Bus travel. The TAM 200 bus connects Terminals 1 and 2 from Nice Airport to Cannes city center. Taking the bus is not recommended if you have large luggage, because there isn’t any storage space and the journey takes about 80 minutes due to frequent bus stops.
4. Car travel. If arriving by car from A8 highway, take the Cannes/Grasse exit and be patient, because it’s often very busy. Another way to get to both Cannes and Juan les Pins/Antibes is through the local road D135. Head down the coast from Vallauris and when you get to the N7 turn right for Cannes or left for Antibes.
5. Train travel. Trains run every 30 minutes from Nice’s St. Augustine station to Cannes, with a half an hour trip. The railway follows the coastline, so the ride to Cannes offers some amazing views.
6. Planning your time. Cannes offers a huge variety of options for spending your time. There are many private beaches where you can spend a lazy day in the sun or do some watersports, designer shops (but also more affordable options) and a wide array of restaurants. Divide your time between sightseeing and relaxing to get the most out of your holiday.
7. When to go. Cannes has a mild Mediterranean weather, with 12 hours of sunshine during summer and pleasant temperature in winter, as the Esterel Massif protects the area from strong winds. Cannes is usually fully booked in May, for the duration of the film festival, so you might want to choose a less crowded month like April, June, September or even October, the weather is just as pleasant.
Things to do
- La Croisette – home of legendary hotels like Martinez and Carlton;
- Palais des Festivals – location of the Cannes Film Festival (1 bd de la Croisette);
- Lérins islands – a wonderful way to spend a day out is cruising to Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat, home to a monastery and a marine museum;
- La Malmaison – today an arts center, is the only surviving part of Cannes’ original Grand Hotel, that was built in 1863, demolished in the 50s and then rebuilt in 1963;
- Le Suquet – the oldest section of Cannes, with great views of the bay;
- the Painted Walls of Cannes – murals commissioned by the City Hall to honor the city’s film legacy;
- the city’s grand villas, built in the XIX century, some of which can be visited by appointment.
Shopping. Luxury boutiques and designer fashion are the norm in Cannes, most of them located between La Croisette and rue d’Antibes, where you’ll also find the best chocolatiers in town. More French delicacies are to be found on the vibrant Rue Meynadier. The open air Forville market sells everything from fresh vegetables, fruits and olive oil to meats and cheese, while at Marche Gambetta you’ll find fresh fish and seafood, herbs and spices. Café Riviera (7 Rue Teisseire) offers a nice selection of wines and if you’re looking for a nice gift for your loved ones stop by Les Caprices de Marilyn (6 Rue Rouguiere).
Nightlife. The nightlife is mostly focused around on rue Commandant André and adjacent streets, a district known as the Golden Square. Clubs in Cannes stay open until the early hours of the morning, bars until 5.30 am and until 7 am. Uniquely among French towns, Cannes has 3 casinos: Casino Palm Beach, Casino Barrière and Casino Barrière Les Princes. On Verdun Square, opposite Bijou beach, there is a live orchestra with dance floor every night from 8.30 pm to 12.30 am.
Performing arts. Palais de Festivals is a multifunctional conference and entertainment center, that houses the 1068-seater Claude Debussy theatre, regular exhibitions, concerts and dance shows. The schedule is full with diverse shows and performances from July to September. Villa Domergue, one of Cannes’ grand villas, hosts several classical music concerts during the summer.
Cannes has several museums, such as Provence Art and History museum, located in an 18th century mansion; Musée de la Castre, with Polynesian, Peruvian and Mayan artifacts; the Perfume Museum and the Marine Museum.
If you’re spending more time in Cannes, take a couple of day trips to either Monaco, St. Tropez, Nice or Antibes/Juan les Pins. It’s also worth visiting St. Raphael, located midway between Cannes and St. Tropez and the medieval village of Eze, with impressive views of the coastline.
Eating out in Cannes is mostly an expensive affair, but you can find affordable options in the old quarter Le Suquet and Rue Meynadier. One of the most romantic settings for dining is the northern suburb Le Cannet, some 2 km from the city center, where you can see all of Cannes and the bay from Place Bellevue.
Some of the most sought after restaurants in Cannes are Aux P’tits Anges (4 Rue Marceau), L’eponyme (4, Rue de Bone), Il Convivio (6 Boulevard Montfleury), La Mome (6 Rue Florian), La Brouette de Grand-Mere (9B Rue d’Oran), Grill & Wines (5 Rue Notre Dame), and La Table du Chef (5 Rue Jean Daumas). Maison Ladurée on 79 Rue d’Antibes serves the best cakes and macaroons.
Marinas you might like
While staying in Cannes we recommend mooring your boat at Port of Cannes, heart of major events for professional skippers and sailors. Other marinas you might enjoy in the area are Port de Nice (known as Port Lympia), Port de Golfe Juan, and Port de Villefranche-Darse.