My visit to Cannes was only for a day whilst holidaying in Nice. You can get to Cannes by car or by train. I took the train from Gare Nice Ville that meanders the 20 miles (33kms) along the Southern coast. The fare cost GB£7.50 (€8.30) and took around 25 minutes.
People watching is the activity that brings most visitors to Cannes (and was my primary reason to visit!), and hotel lined La Croisette provides a fine promenade. First popularised by Coco Chanel, Cannes beaches are a huge draw. Get expensive seaside food and drinks service on hotel sand or opt for the free public beaches, Plages du Midi and de la Boca.
As you walk among the couture shops and palaces of La Croisette, the wealth and glamour of it all cannot fail to impress: admiring Ferraris and Porsches cruising by and celebrity spotting on the glitzy sunlounger striped beaches and liner-sized yachts moored at the port are hot Cannes pastimes. Whether Cannes’ soul has managed to survive its celebrity-playground status is another question, but, there’s still enough natural beauty to make a trip worthwhile: the harbour, the bay, the clutch of islands off the coast and the old quarter, Le Suquet, all spring into life on a sunny day.
I spent most of my visit just wondering around the harbour front admiring the yachts, the wealth of red Ferrari’s speeding by and finding myself getting lost window shopping around the luxury boutique stores.
However, there is one place you must visit whilst in Cannes and that is the ‘La Croisette’. The multi-starred hotels and couture shops lining the iconic la Croisette may be the preserve of the rich and famous, but anyone can enjoy strolling the palm shaded promenade when it twinkles with bright lights.
Views of the Baie de Cannes and nearby Estérel mountains are beautiful, and seafront hotel palaces dazzle in all their stunning art-deco glory. Legendary addresses include the Martinez and the Carlton InterContinental, with twin cupolas modelled on the breasts of the courtesan La Belle Otéro.
West of the harbour is Cannes’ original hillside settlement, where the pattern of the scurrying little streets hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. If you’re out to dinner in the evening chances are you’ll spend at least some time on Rue Sainte-Antoine, which twists its way up the hill between old fisherman’s houses.
You can let your curiosity take over and climb the stairways, slowly making your way up past ochre-painted walls and bougainvillea blossoms, until you get to Place de la Castre.
The Film Festival
In mid-May the world’s most famous film festival transforms Cannes and brings the great and the good to the city, as upcoming releases are judged.
It runs at the same time as the Marché du Film, described as the world’s largest film market, where thousands of filmmakers, distributors and other industry professionals rub shoulders and make contacts. What does it mean for us mere mortals if we don’t have accreditation? Well, for two weeks there’s a special buzz around the place, and you’ve got a great chance of spotting celebrities.
Why not visit this covered market? Here there are all sorts of seasonal produce and regional flavours sourced from around the south of France. Here you will expect to find a healthy range from fruit, veg, flowers and fragrant herbs all on offer. And you can round it off with a glass of wine from one of the bars just outside, while there’s also live music on Saturdays and Sundays.
The food market sets up daily, except on Mondays when there’s a flea market instead.
A few streets back from the La Croisette is Rue d’Antibes. A lengthy shopping high street with international brands like Diesel, Lacoste, Mango, etc, alongside all the French favourites such as Fnac and Devernois.
So you can go on that Cannes shopping trip without breaking the bank or being turned away before you can even step inside the shop!