•Alpes-Maritimes (06400) • Population: 68,676 • Altitude: 6 m
Cannes is the "star" of the French Riviera, famous for the International Film Festival and the glitzy hotels, cars, beaches and visitors attracted here. Although it's probably the opposite of the Beyond type villages of the "arriére pays", it would be a shame to visit the South of France without experiencing the city for yourself.
Film producers (yea, sure!) and starlets for the festival in May. Tourists year-round and crowds of tourists in the summer. Exotic people and real people, and plenty of poodles (it is France, after all). The yachts and cruise ships float in the blue water, and you can't always tell which is which by the size.
The city of Cannes is centered around the old port, with the central part quite compact. The famous "Croisette" is the boulevard and the beach that extends around the bay to the east of the port, in the protected "Rade de Cannes". Out around the point at the west side of the port, the Boulevard Jean Hibert runs along the coast to the west, with even more fine sandy beaches. The Rue d'Antibes is the main street running east-west through the center of the city, becoming the Rue Félix Faure at the bottom end, past the Allée de la Liberté and the port. The Boulevard Carnot runs north out of the city, through residential-shopping areas, to the A8 autoroute, and inland towards Grasse.
Exotic cars abound: white-haired ladies drive Maseratis for shopping trips, Porsches blow through the streets like pollen, and only the very latest models of Lamborghini and Ferrari attract serious attention. This American snake (photo) is the hit of the moment.
The closest thing to an "old town" is "Le Suquet" overlooking the west end of the port. The 12th-century Tour de Mt. Chevalier, ramparts and 12th-16th-century church Notre-Dame-de-l'Espérence give a touch of medieval flavor to the city. The Le Suquet area has narrow streets climbing up and around the hill, with a fine view from the top. Standing on the ancient rampart wall in front of the church, you can see east across the city, the port and the bay to the Cap de la Croisette, and to the west across the Gulf of La Napoule to the Massif de l'Esterel mountains.
Now and again we run across street names that invoke humor, curiosity or wonderment. Rue de la Misericorde (near the Forville market): doesn't really mean you live on "misery" street as it would seem to an Anglophone; "misericorde" is mercy, named after the Chapelle de la Misericorde on the same street. Rue des Etats-Unis should make visiting Americans feel welcome; parallel to this street there's also a Rue des Belges and a Rue des Serbes.
If you're not busy shopping, eating or ogling, there are miles of beaches along the Golfe de la Napoule or along "La Croisette" in the Rade de Cannes. The beaches are all sandy here, as in Antibes and Juan-les-Pins.
Cannes is great for "upper-crust" shopping. You should be in Nice for serious or business shopping, while Cannes is a shopper's paradise for chic and expensive items. Although you might want to buy your yacht in Antibes, the Rolls-Royce dealer is in Cannes, and there's an endless collection of top-of-the-line jewelry shops, haute-couture clothing shops and art galleries.
Rue d'Antibes. This long street runs the length of Cannes, from the eastern edge to Rue Félix Faure at the port. Shops of all types are along here, including clothing boutiques and many places with fine gift items. Cannes' movie theaters are along the Rue d'Antibes as well.
Bvd de la Croisette. Along this famous boulevard and its many side streets are the art galleries, jewelry stores and the most exclusive clothing shops. If you're not on a budget, your hotel will probably be here as well.
Zone Piétonne - Walking Street. The Rue Meynadier runs parallel to the port, one block in from Rue Félix Faure. Roughly six blocks long, this street has markets and shops with things like produce, meat, groceries, clothes and gifts. There's a Pier One Imports shop with household items.
Forville. The main daily market is at Forville, two blocks north (inland) from the Hotel de Ville on Rue Félix Faure. This is a big, active covered market, that takes up a full, long block (photo). A flower market is at the west end of the covered area. On Mondays, Forville becomes a Marché Brocante (flea market).
Flea Market. A Marché Brocante is held every Saturday, "Sur Les Allées", opposite the old port, beneath the trees. This becomes a two-day market with the first Sunday of the month.
Place Gambetta. This is a smaller, but still sizable, daily market in the covered area in the center of the square. Place Gambetta is a block north of the Rue d'Antibes and a couple of blocks east of the train station.
Parks and Playgrounds
A small "square" on the Le Suquet hill, just below the tower and ramparts, and places to sit amidst large oleander bushes and beneath lovely shade trees.
At the west end of "La Croisette", between the Palais des Festivals and the beach, is a shaded grassy park area with playground, including slides and things. You'll find a real carrousel there, or sometimes an even bigger one out on the esplanade in front of the "Palais".
At the east end of "La Croisette", just before the new Port Canto yacht harbor, is another park and playground. This one also has carnival-type rides for the bigger kids.
Beside the playground at the east end of "La Croisette" is the Jardin Alexandre III, a lovely big flower-garden park.
Many, many famous (and infamous) people have connections to Cannes, from movie characters to movie actors and others.
Dirk Bogarde was the first Briton to be named President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival (1984). He was a member of the jury the following year.
History of Cannes, France
First record, 10th century Canua The name might derive from "canna", a reed.
This was probably the site of a small Ligurian port, and later a Roman outpost on Le Suquet hill. Gallo-Roman and Roman tombs were discovered here. Le Suquet housed an 11th-century lookout tower, and overlooked swamps where the city now stands. Most of the ancient activity, especially for protection, was on the Lerin Islands just off the coast, and the history of Cannes is really the history of the islands.
Palais des Festivals, Bvd Croisette
Tel : 04 93 39 24 53; Fax: 0493 99 37 06
Place Gare (train station)
Tel: 493 99 19 77; Fax: 0493 39 40 19
Every Mon - Brocante, Carreau Forville
Every Thur - Brocante, La Bocca
Every Sat; 1st Sun - Brocante, Les Allées
Every May - International FILM FESTIVAL - Palais des Festivals
Every July - International Festival of Pyrotechnical Art - 22h, Bay of Cannes
Transportation Cannes, France
Cannes Transportation is listed on a separate page.
Tours Cannes, France
Trans Cote d'Azur
Boat cruises based mainly in Cannes and Nice, with trips to Monaco, St Tropez, La Corniche d'Or, the Iles-de-Lerins.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Cannes Bowling - Billiards
- Location: 189 av Françis Tonner (just past the Cannes-Mandelieu airport)
- Open: 7 days a week, 15h-02h30
• Latitude, Longitude: 43.550894, 7.010541
Cannes is better suited for strolling the Croisette along the beaches than real hiking, although there are some possibilities not too far away.
• The GR 51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) passes on the other side of Mandelieu La Napoule, 10 km west of center Cannes. The GR 51 goes north, through Auribeau-sur-Siagne (10 km from Cannes) and on to Grasse and points east. To the west, the GR 51 crosses Provence all the way to Marseille.
There are restaurants everywhere in Cannes, and of all kinds and prices, from Pizza or Tex-Mex to multiple Michelin 5-star.
Seafood. Many of the seafood restaurants are on the Quai St. Pierre (along the west side of the port) or on the Rue Félix Faure. In "Astoux & Brun" on the corner of Rue Félix Faure and Rue Louis Blanc, for example, you can enjoy oysters or large shrimp and a bottle of Cabris blanc-des-blancs any hour of the day, avoiding the normal mealtime crowds.
Terrace café-restaurants abound along the "la Croisette", with great star-and-car watching.
The narrow Rue Saint Antoine going up the "Le Suquet" hill has several nice, cozy restaurants.
There's only one restaurant with a good view of Cannes' old harbor and the sea out to the Lerin islands. The Méditerranée restaurant on the top (7th) floor of the Sofitel, out at the corner of the port, has a panoramic view of the port, the town, the sea and part of the Esterel.
All the tables have a good view, but the round room at the end has the best view of the sea, especially the three 2-person tables at the outer side. The tables at the opposite end of the main room overlook Le Suquet hill and the roofs of the old town. The restaurant offers fish courses of course, and also a vegetarian menu.
They're open mid-days and evenings. On Sundays they have a Grand Buffet (brunch) from 12h30-14h30. During the winter season (until April) they're closed on Sunday evenings and all day Monday.
Location: Bd Jean Hibert and Rue du Port
Plage de Midi
06400 Cannes Cedex
Tel: (33) 492 99 73 00; Fax: (33) 492 99 73 29
There are several restaurants on Rue du Port, facing the side of the port. Most of these are ground-floor only, without much of a view.
The Gaston Gastounette restaurant has a second floor (1ere étage), with four window tables that offer some view of the port and the sea.
Tel: (33) 493 39 47 92; (33) 493 39 49 44.