Welcome to the French Riviera. When we talk about Cannes, it is often to evoke its very famous film festival and the ascent of the steps to the social evenings which take place there at that time. But, besides the glitter and the flashes of the paparazzi, this South of France glamourous city has a lot more to offer travelers from around the world.
Cannes has retained an authentic feel and vibe, and we must say that it is a pleasant surprise to discover the peaceful atmosphere which reigns there all year long.
Here are some of the best things to see and do in Cannes.
It is the symbolic place of interest of Cannes: the Croisette. This long promenade by the sea is bordered by pines and palm trees, luxury boutiques, and legendary hotels. It is, with the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, one of the most famous boulevards of the French Riviera and the world.
The avenue, therefore, stretches on the seaside, on one side you have luxury shops and on the other side of the beaches which are largely private. It is one of the largest concentrations of luxury brands in France with almost 3 km of shops, casinos, and hotels.
Well-appointed and maintained, you will also find beautiful sandy beaches, ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and having a drink on the terrace of one of the trendy establishments located there.
Travel Tip: get there early in the morning and do it on foot then do it again in the afternoon to enjoy the atmosphere.
During your walk on the Croisette, do not miss to check the magnificent facades of the emblematic 5-star hotels of Cannes. Who knows, when you open your eyes, you may be able to spot one of your favorite actors or singers having breakfast on the balcony! Among the most famous palaces in Cannes, you can check:
When in Cannes, you should not miss visiting the Palais des Festivals. It is here that the Cannes Film Festival, the largest film festival in the world, takes place every year in May. It rewards the best films, with the prestigious Palme d’Or trophy.
The Cannes Film Festival event is a meeting place for the most prominent international stars and people, for whom the rise of the steps under the flashes of the photographers, are considered as a consecration. Designer dresses and jewelry from the greatest jewelers are obviously in order!
These steps have become a myth in Cannes, and you will not fail to feel like Angelina Jolie or Leonardo di Caprio by posing for a small souvenir photo at the top of the steps.
Just like Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Cannes has its own Chemin des Etoiles. The greatest directors, actors, and celebrities have left the imprint of their hands-on tiles placed on the ground. It is located at the forecourt of the Palais des Festivals and along the Georges Pompidou esplanade.
Travel Tip: The Cannes tourist office is also located in the Palais des Festivals, so take the opportunity to get the city map.
Le Suquet is the oldest district in Cannes. Erected on a hill, the old town of Cannes allows you to contemplate a beautiful view of the bay and the Croisette. As the historic district of the city of Cannes, it is perfect to take the time to discover the city and enjoy the freshness that its narrow and cobbled streets could bring you during hot summer days.
Suquet District offers you to contemplate a beautiful view of the bay and the Croisette. There, you can also stroll through the steep medieval alleys and enjoy the authentic atmosphere, shops, and restaurants.
There are many things to see at Le Suquet during your trip to Cannes such as The Castle Museum, which is located in the old castle built by the monks of the Saint-Honorat Abbey.
You can also discover the Square Tower, where it is possible to climb to the top to admire the 360 ° panorama, or head to the Church of Our Lady of Hope, located on the Place de la Castre, a 17th-century Gothic building
Travel Tip: You will find a lot of bars and local restaurants at Saint-Antoine.
It is an atypical space that will appeal to all contemporary art lovers. It is a building welcoming 4 artists who open the doors of their workshop so that you can visit them and ask your questions.
They are not all there at the same time, but you will always find 1 or 2 on-site with whom you can talk. Throughout the year, you can also visit the various exhibitions presented.
The season is launched in May with its film festival where celebrities from around the world invade the Croisette. Beautiful sandy beaches located mainly in three areas (after the old port in the direction of Mandelieu la Napoule, along the Croisette, and at Pointe Croisette), but you should know that there are very few public beaches on the French Riviera!
The Croisette is rather reserved for private beaches and its large hotels even if there are some free spaces where you can put your towel. The Cannes coastline runs for almost 8 kilometers of beaches, some of these beaches are private property.
Following are free beaches that are well maintained and pleasant:
La Croix des Gardes is the green lungs of Cannes; it is a very large park located on a hill overlooking the city behind the Suquet district. This 80-hectare natural park allows you to take a leisurely stroll along a path with belvederes offering beautiful views of Cannes, the Lérins Islands, and the Esterel massif.
To get there, you can to take a taxi (it goes up quite a bit) and once at the top, take a walk to the cross, then follow the marked paths to go back down to the city. The ride is pleasant and is done to the sound of cicadas.
The Forville market has now become a real tourist attraction in Cannes. Every morning, from Tuesday to Sunday, you can walk the aisles of this covered market and discover the stalls of market gardeners, cheesemakers, and fishmongers. It is located at the foot of the Suquet hill, behind the Cannes City Hall, not far from the Old Port.
The Forville (covered) market in Cannes takes place regularly in the morning from Tuesday to Sunday. It is located rue du Marché Forville , it is this hall is a few streets behind the west side of the basin of the old port ( map ).
Excellent local and quality products are waiting for you! There are roughly 80 exhibitors in this market selling fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, butcher and deli products, organic and natural products, local and local produce, and flowers and plants.
Travel Tip: Once at the Forville market you should definitely taste socca sold on many of the stands.
As you can imagine, the history of Cannes is still very linked to that of cinema, so much so that you can see frescoes to the glory of the 7th art everywhere in the city.
The Cannes painted walls circuit refers to the cinematographic history of the city. Several facades and walls present magnificent frescoes dedicated to the seventh art. A Charlie Chaplin on film, a pensive Marilyn Monroe, or a Buster Keaton hanging from his clock, you can come across superb murals at the corner of a street.
Travel Tip: There are sixteen painted walls in total and they are distributed in all the districts of Cannes.
Accessible in just 15 to 20 minutes by boat from Cannes, the Lérins Islands are the ideal destination for enjoying nature and swimming near the city.
They are also very popular with families, as they are well-equipped for picnics and cars are prohibited. You can walk there quietly and safely.
Île Sainte-Marguerite is the larger of the two islands and is also the one that receives the most tourists, but it remains very calm all year round. It keeps a wild side and has many small beaches as well as a space to observe birds in their natural habitat. You can easily spend the day there by taking a boat in the morning and return in the evening.
The Lérins Islands are made up of two islands: Saint-Honorat Island and Sainte-Marguerite Island. They each have their own atmosphere, and you will have to take different boats to get to the two islands.
The island of Saint-Honorat is a little different for the simple reason that it belongs to a community of monks. You must take the boat from Cannes to get there, and you can choose from different companies that are providing the trips.
Before going there, it is essential to understand that most of the monks are here for a retreat, and you have to respect their living environment.
Travel Tip: To go to the Lérins Islands from Cannes, the boat is taken at the end of the Quai Saint-Pierre. There is a shuttle to Île Sainte-Marguerite and a shuttle to Île Saint-Honorat, but you cannot transfer between the 2 islands.
The Ile Saint-Honorat offers a serene getaway just a few minutes from Cannes. Located in the bay of Cannes, the island of Saint-Honorat is the smallest of the Lérins islands. It is occupied by about twenty monks who live in the monastery of Lérins.
This modern building succeeds the old fortified monastery, built-in 1073 in the southern part of the island. A real jewel of greenery and serenity, it is only 15 minutes away by boat and people come here mainly to visit the abbey, but also to taste the wine that the Cistercian monks have been producing for many centuries.
Discover the ogival arches of the fortified monastery, then follow the parapet walk to contemplate fantastic views of the sea, punctuated here and there by ancient chapels and ball ovens that date back to the Napoleonic era.
Travel Tip: For lunch, you can book a table at the only restaurant on the island or enjoy your picnic in a small cove.
You should only visit the La Californie district on one condition: go there with a guide. It is the only way to understand the city of Cannes better. The district is filled with villas, castles, manors, owned by celebrities.
You will be able to learn more about Princess Anastasia Mikhaïlovna of Russia and her palace-villa in Cannes, as well as on the development of the Russian diaspora, which is still very present in the city.
Travel Tip: As most of the villas are private, it’s impossible to visit them, and without explanations, you may be disappointed. That’s why we recommend you to go with a guide or with passionate locals who make you discover their city.
Bordering an idyllic waterfront, the old port enjoys a privileged location and marks the link between the Cannes des Paillettes and the historic district of Le Suquet. A meeting place for yachtsmen and walkers, the old port of Cannes is considered to be the oldest in the Mediterranean. Inaugurated in 1838, the Quai Saint-Pierre is home to many old riggings and splendid yachts.
Every year in September, the Régates Royales is launched, while June is the occasion to celebrate the district during a popular event, offering various shows and concerts.
Travel Tip: There are many establishments on the edge of the old port to satisfy your appetite, but for a successful experience. The perfect place to go out in Cannes!
The French Riviera is famous for its beaches and azure waters, which unfortunately are often crowded, especially if you visit during the summer season.
Escape for a while from the local frenzy by heading to Théoule-sur-Mer, where you’ll find the Pointe de l’Aiguille, a small, secluded cove with heavenly scenery. To reach it, park along the Boulevard de la Corniche d’Or after passing through the town of Théoule-sur-Mer, then take the path down to the beach. It’s not one of the sandy beaches so our advice is to keep your footwear on to avoid getting hurt.
Travel Tip: Bring a mask and snorkel to explore the seabed, rich in dorados and other rock fish. An underwater discovery trail is accessible from mid-June to mid-September, ask at the town’s tourist office for more information.
It’s a little less known side of Cannes, but all summer long, the city hosts a fairly impressive fireworks festival. Starting from July 14th and then throughout the summer, you can enjoy the fireworks shows staged by fireworks companies from around the world.