Life in Cannes is turned on its head during those two weeks in May, when scores of paparazzi, industry bigwigs and the world’s biggest stars are in town for the famous film festival. The remainder of the year it’s a sleek pleasure garden for the world’s wealthiest people, and a honeypot for people seduced by the glamour.
Here’s our hand picked list of the top things to do when you visit.
The French are renowned for their daily markets, which are replete with local, seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. Head to Cannes’ Marché Forville any morning (except Mondays) to try the local produce (olives, meats, seafood and more) and have a bite to eat.
What’s on offer can range from fruit, veg, flowers and fragrant herbs right up to exquisite hand-crafted confectionery, truffles and gourmet olive oils.
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 Cannes Yachting Festival runs every September and is a chance to admire the latest boats and luxury yachts on sale. If you can’t afford the down payment on a vessel, don’t worry – simply play out your tycoon fantasies by visiting all the sleekest sailing machines. The festival attracts an international crowd, with about 50% of the attendees coming from overseas. It takes place in two locations: the Vieux Port (the Old Port) and the Port Pierre Canto.
- The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most famous international festivals in the world, celebrating both art-house and mainstream cinema. Cannes comes alive every May when the most celebrated names in the film world descend on the city. Although the festival takes place all over town in every theatre, cinema and hotel, the main concentration is on its most famous street, La Croisette.
Musée de la Castre
After struggling up the hill in Le Suquet you can step inside this museum, which is in one of Cannes’ few medieval buildings, a fort built in the 11th century to defend the bay.
The Musée de la Castre is located within a medieval castle that was once home to the monks of Lérins. Positioned high above the city, it provides amazing views of Cannes and beyond. In the 19th century, the museum was bequeathed an eclectic art collection by a local resident, which includes medieval artefacts, Asian instruments and unusual paintings.
At the end of the tour you can climb 109 steps the to the top of the square tower to improve on that view of the bay from the terrace.
Centre d’art La Malmaison
The Centre d’Art La Malmaison is housed in what used to be the Grand Hotel on La Croisette. The hotel was demolished and all that remains is the Games Room, where you can now find lots of artwork from the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s a brilliant modern-art museum with fantastic temporary exhibitions. La Malmaison is a must-see.
Beginning at La Croisette is a shopping area that has pretty much every high-end brand you can name.
It’s impossible not to feel a little underdressed as you shuffle by branches of Dior, Chanel, Gucci , Miu Miu, Bulgari and Prada.
In fact you could walk for an hour or so and pass nothing but luxury boutiques.
Unless you have expensive habits or happen to be extremely wealthy you’ll mostly be doing window shopping in this part of Cannes, but it’s an education to see how the other half lives.
This is especially true of the Carré d’Or, between La Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, where glitzy jewellery shops rub shoulders with the most select bars in the city.