With its rich culture and fabled nightlife, Cannes is one of the cities that best defines the French bon vivant. Annually, movie and fashion stars come for the renowned International Film Festival, making it one of the French Cote d’Azur’s most visited tourist destinations. Located in the French Riviera, southeast of the country, its proximity to Menton, Nice, Grasses, Antibes and Saint-Tropez, makes it one of the best options when visiting the Mediterranean especially for those who love art, nautical activities and beaches.
Throughout the year, the Palm Beach and other casinos, along with races and social events take center stage in this luxurious city. Curiously, what we today call Cannes was a spiritual retreat for the monks at the Abbey of Lérins, located on the island of Saint-Honorat. There, the Cistercian monks still produce fine wines and spirits, highly sought after by filmmakers, celebrities and tourists.
One of the jewels of Cannes is the boardwalk of La Croisette, three miles of mansions, palaces, boutiques and hotels that separate the Mediterranean from the innermost areas of the city. The most privileged can stay at hotels like the Majestic, the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel or the legendary Martinez, whose Art Deco building is characteristic of the boulevard’s architecture and is the favorite of stars like Catherine Deneuve, Monica Bellucci and Penelope Cruz.
Not far is the Vieux Port and Marché de Forville (the Old Port and Forville Market) with its seafood restaurants, fishing stops with the fresh catch-of-the-day. From there you can continue your tour with a stroll through the historic rue Meynadier, Cannes main street, or stop at a small restaurant on rue Saint Antoine, one of the most popular areas of the city. At the end of this road, you reach Le Suquet district, the old town on the Chevalier hill, with its picturesque cobblestone streets, where you can enjoy the best views of the city. A little further down the way you come upon the churches of Notre Dame de Bon Voyage and Notre Dame de l’Espérance, as well as the Castre medieval castle, a fortress built in the twelfth century by the monks of Lérins to defend the town. Since 1952, the Castre has become an art museum representing all five continents.
Museums, private beaches, yacht and nautical clubs, fishermen houses and references to the more aristocratic side of cinema, coexist in Cannes, which still lives in the belle époque, the red carpet and the immortal images of Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly strolling through the streets or enjoying the Mediterranean climate on its beaches. That is part of its history, but Cannes is also a vibrant seaside resort with a particularly elegant and youthful vibe.
Indeed, Cannes exudes glamour and nostalgia. It is a place where the French joie de vivre takes over, and chic sophistication takes center stage. Celebrities and dignitaries have succumbed to the city’s charm and allure, but what keeps people coming back is the feeling of acceptance and overall beauty of the city’s surroundings. ■