Basking in the sun of the French Riviera, Cannes sparkles with glamour and exclusivity.
This legendary seaside resort has all the glitz and allure of the Côte d’Azur: private beaches, marinas filled with luxury yachts, stylish boulevards, elegant Belle Epoque hotels, and fashionable restaurants. In an enchanting setting on Golfe de la Napoule bay, Cannes is blessed with a balmy Mediterranean climate. The weather is mild year-round and perfect for sunbathing by the beach from May through October. Leafy palm trees grace the streets of Cannes, and subtropical flowers flourish throughout the city, giving visitors the impression of being in paradise. The prestigious Film Festival of Cannes has been an important event since it began in 1946. Drawing famous movie stars from around the world, this annual red-carpet gala has earned an international reputation for promoting the art of filmmaking.
1 Boulevard de la Croisette
One of the most fashionable streets on the French Riviera, this palm-lined boulevard is the center of tourist activity in Cannes. The Boulevard de la Croisette is lined by Belle Epoque hotels, such as the historic InterContinental Carlton Cannes, a marvelous example of grand French Art Nouveau architecture, designed by Charles Dalmas. Visitors can also admire the opulent villas and upscale boutiques. The boulevard extends from the new Palais des Festivals to the lovely “La Roseraie” park at the Square du 8 Mai 1945, with splendid private beaches on the sandy shoreline. Along this stretch, the beachfront promenade is a great place for strolling and people-watching. The promenade is appreciated for its magnificent views of the gulf and the Lérins Islands in the distance of the Mediterranean Sea.
Beyond La Roseraie park is the idyllic Port Pierre Canto, with its rows of luxury yachts docked at the harbor. Also within walking distance is another harbor, the Port de la Pointe Croisette, the departure point for regattas organized by the Yacht Club of Cannes. The yacht club also has a sailing school. Another spot for water sports enthusiasts and sunbathers is the nearby Port Palm Beach, a quiet public beach on the western side of Pointe Croisette with a snack bar and restroom facilities.
2 Le Suquet (Old Town)
Perched on the slopes of Mont Chevalier above the bay, the Le Suquet district represents the original fishing village. In a picturesque hillside setting, this area offers exceptional views as well as Old World charm. Le Suquet has retained some of the ambience of centuries ago. Tourists are delighted by the traffic-free quarter with its narrow old staircases, pleasant courtyards, and interesting historic remnants, such as the city’s ancient walls. At the heart of Le Suquet, the old church, Eglise du Suquet, and the 11th-century Tour du Mont Chevalier watchtower dominate the skyline. From the top of the watchtower, there is a wonderful panoramic outlook onto the beach and the bay all the way out to the Lérins Islands. Another joy of visiting Le Suquet is wandering the quaint old streets. One of the old town’s main shopping streets is the Rue Meynadier. This bustling pedestrian street is renowned for its specialty gourmet boutiques. Another important commercial street a few blocks away at the edge of Le Suquet is the Rue d’Antibes. A shopping destination for French Riviera fashions, the street is lined with designer prêt-à-porter clothing boutiques.
3 Festival de Cannes (Film Festival) in May
Of all the things to do on the French Riviera, the Festival de Cannes is the most exciting. With all the glitter of celebrity, this red-carpet event is a top tourist attraction and is definitely one of the biggest moments of the year in Cannes. The festival draws movie stars and filmmakers from all over the world, as well as crowds of fans and journalists. Originally this film festival was established to rival the Venice Film Festival. The Festival de Cannes has earned an international reputation for discovering, supporting, and promoting excellent films.
Address: Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, 1 boulevard La Croisette, Cannes
4 Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is the venue of the Riviera’s most glamorous red-carpet affair, the Cannes Film Festival. Designed by the architects Bennett and Druet, the building was completed in 1982 and is used for events, conferences and festivals year round. In addition to the film festival, the building also hosts the G20 Summit, the international music trade show MIDEM, and the MIPTV (International Television Programme Market) events. The Palais des Festivals has 25,000 square meters of space for exhibitions as well as numerous rooms and auditoriums equipped with sophisticated sound and lighting systems. The impressive complex of buildings features state-of-the-art technical apparatus, including sound studios, simultaneous translation arrangements, audio-visual equipment, and large projectors. There is also a restaurant on site. Since 2009, the building has been continually modernized.
Address: 1 boulevard La Croisette, Cannes
5 Notre-Dame de l’Espérance
Built on the summit of le Suquet, which dazzles with its dreamy views of the city, the Notre-Dame de l’Espérance is the most important church in Cannes. The late-Gothic edifice dates to the 16th century and has a notable 17th-century Madonna on the high altar. When entering the church, visitors are struck by the peaceful interior and the inspiring heights of its Gothic vaulting. The church also features a mix of architectural styles, including a Renaissance porch plus an organ that was installed in 1857 and has been recently renovated. There is also an old cemetery that dates back to the 16th century. During the Second World War, the church was temporarily used as a hospital. Today, the church is still a place of religious worship. In July, the square in front of the church is illuminated and becomes a magical outdoor venue for the Nuits Musicales du Suquet (Musical Nights of Le Suquet), a classical musical festival featuring one week of performances under the stars.
Address: 1 Place de la Castre, Cannes
6 Musée de la Castre
On a hill overlooking the Bay of Cannes, the Musée de la Castre occupies a classified historic monument, a medieval castle that was formerly the monastery of Lérins monks. Surrounded by a Mediterranean garden, the site boasts exceptional views of the coastline and sea. The Castre Museum has a superb collection of Mediterranean antiquities, pre-Columbian primitive art, and 19th-century Provencal landscape paintings. Several small rooms feature exotic art objects from Oceania and the Himalayas. There is also an extensive collection of musical instruments from around the world. Visitors can climb to the top of the building’s 12th-century tower to take in the breathtaking 360-degree panorama of Cannes and its surroundings.
Address: Le Suquet, Cannes
7 Public Beaches
Cannes is famous for its fine sandy beaches, with gorgeous views and calm Mediterranean waters ideal for bathing. Including the nearby îles de Lérin and Estérel coastline, there are seven kilometers of beach property in Cannes. With so many options, there is something for every visitor. While many of the beaches in Cannes are private property owned by hotels, there are several beaches open to the public. These include the Macé Beach and the Zamenhof Beach, located off the Boulevard de la Croisette. These beaches charge a small fee for use of the lounge chairs and parasols. Also available for public use (and free of charge) are the Plage de la Casino along the Boulevard de la Croisette; La Bocca Beach, a quiet beach with gorgeous views and golden sand; the Plages du Midi, a long sandy beach near the center of Cannes; and Mouré Rouge Beach near the fishing ports. The lesser-known Les Rochers beach is the best choice for snorkeling.
8 Private Beaches
As an exclusive seaside resort town, Cannes also has upscale private beaches that require entrance fees. Fashionable private beaches along the Boulevard de la Croisette include the Plage Croisette, with a fancy restaurant that serves Provençal cuisine; the Royal Plage that has a casual restaurant with a pleasant patio area; CBeach, with a restaurant focused on seafood; and Bâoli Beach, which boasts an exceptional gastronomic restaurant. Tucked away in a quiet environment near the Port Canto, Bijou Plage has a stellar fine-dining restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea, the Lerins Islands, and the Esterel Mountains. Maema Plage, on the Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert, offers outdoor dining with musical entertainment in the evenings. All of the private beaches have excellent facilities as well as lounge chairs and parasols available for rent, allowing sunbathers to enjoy a pampering and relaxing experience.
9 Vieux Port
Emblematic of Cannes’ Mediterranean scenery, the Vieux Port (Old Port) lies below the historic Le Suquet quarter. The Vieux Port, also known as Port Cannes I, is located near the Gare Maritime (Marine Railway Station) that was built in 1957. Besides its use as a dock for yachts and other sailboats, the Vieux Port is the launching point for the Royal Regatta. North of the port are the picturesque Allées de la Liberté, narrow ancient alleys lined with shady plane trees. In the mornings the colorful Marché aux Fleurs (Flower Market) is held here.
10 La Californie
This lovely district of Cannes exemplifies glamorous French Riviera scenery. Gorgeous vacation villas are surrounded by lush gardens and palm trees. This charming area is a wonderful place for a relaxing afternoon stroll. Drawn by its beauty, Picasso lived in this neighborhood for a short while. It’s easy to understand how the exquisite buildings and vibrant landscape would inspire an artist. Also worth a visit in this neighborhood is the Eglise Russe (Russian Church) on the Boulevard Alexandre.
11 Chapelle Bellini
Built in 1894 by the Count Vitali, the Chapelle Bellini was once part of a Florentine-style villa and is set in a beautiful park. Identified by the arms of the Count, the chapel features an Italian Baroque design with an impressive clock tower and an interesting wooden staircase inside. The chapel was bought by the artist Emmanuel Bellini in 1953 and then used as his atelier. The Bellini Chapel is now a museum dedicated to the artist’s works shown in his own studio space.
Address: Parc Fiorentina – 67 bis, Avenue de Vallauris, Cannes
12 La Malmaison Museum
La Malmaison Museum occupies the game room and tea room of the Grand Hôtel, built in 1863. These rooms were used for art exhibitions organized by Aimé Maeght in 1945 and were converted by the city of Cannes to a museum in 1983. This small museum invites visitors on a delightful discovery of contemporary art. The museum hosts two major expositions annually dedicated to famous artists who found inspiration from the Cote d’Azur, including Picasso, Matisse, and Ozenfant. Other internationally renowned artists featured in the museum’s collections are César, Miró, and Masson.
Address: 47 La Croisette, Cannes