Cannes was once a fishing village. During the 19th century, the humble fishing village became a veritable gem on the Côte d'Azur: the curative Mediterranean climate, exquisite sandy beaches, and spectacular views of the bay from the Suquet Hill made Cannes a favourite holiday destination for aristocrats, particularly from England and America.
Now the city has become a glamorous and expensive seaside resort, and one of the main social centres in Europe. Cannes, in fact, became world-famous when it hosted the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Although the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals, the opulence of the pompous hotels and the glitz of the Croisette are all firmly rooted in Cannes these days.
Catamaran vacation to see the famous Cannes Film Festival
The city is particularly buzzing during May, when the famous Cannes Film Festival attracts the rich and famous. The streets of Cannes and especially the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette provide a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of the actors and directors involved.
The city has kept its face and remained true to its democratic past; it has not become a "haven of the rich" and all tourists can find a hotel and a place to enjoy themselves. This is what makes Cannes truly appealing.
Cannes sights: what to see on a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean
Despite the relatively small size of the city, Cannes combines tourist attractions for almost every taste, from stellar villas and luxury hotels to medieval monuments and unspoilt natural reserves.
- Old Town Cannes
- The famous Croisette
- Festival Palace
- Port de Cannes
- Covered market
- The Lérins Islands
- Île Saint-Marguerite
- Île Saint-Honora
- Croix de Garde Urban Forest
- Luxury Shopping in Cannes: from famous brands to unique souvenirs
#1. Old Town of Cannes
The old town of Cannes is a network of narrow, picturesque streets framed by numerous restaurants and souvenir shops. Of particular note is the view from the ruins of the castle at the top of the hill.
#2. The famous Croisette
The most famous place in Cannes, which is almost impossible to pass, is the Croisette. It stretches almost 3 kilometers from the Palais des Festivals to Cape Palm Beach and separates the city itself from the coastline.
The Croisette connects the centre of Cannes with the old port and the Palais des Festivals. During big events (the Cannes Film Festival is just one of them) it draws large crowds of visitors. But on ordinary days it is a favourite stroll destination for locals and tourists alike.
#3. Festival Palace
Down the street from La Croisette is the famous Festival Palace (Palais des Festivals), where the stars of the film world come together to see the films presented at the world's most famous film festival, held in Cannes every year on a Wednesday in May.
#4. Port of Cannes
In the port you can admire the rows of yachts of possibly famous owners. Although the most luxurious yachts are more likely to be found at the Yacht Club on the beach in Antibes.
#5. Covered market
Covered market (Marché Forville). This is the ideal place for exploring local culinary traditions with a huge variety of food. The market is located on the west end of rue Meynardiers, one of the main gourmet streets on the coast.
#6. Lérins Islands
From the promenade you have a great view of the Lérins Islands. This is another major attraction in Cannes. Îles de Lérins-these two islands in the bay of Cannes are a must-see
#7. Île Saint-Marguerite
Saint-Marguerite is famous for its royal fort, the Prison of Louis XIV and the Napoleonic fortifications. The prison of Saint Margeryt once held the famous Iron Mask prisoner and now houses the Maritime Museum.
#8. St. Honor Island
It is a small island called St Honorat. There are castle ruins and a monastery that claims to be the oldest in Europe. St Patrick was a monk here. Today the monastery belongs to the Cistercian order and is partially open to the public. The monks sell the products made in the monastery, including wine, which has become a unique souvenir.
#9. Urban Forest Park
Lovers of peace and quiet don't need to go to the Lérins Islands: the Croix de Garde Urban Forest, just 1.5 km from Croisette, is at their disposal. It is renowned for its clean air, tranquil atmosphere and mesmerising views over the bay.
In addition to the Lérins Islands, the Suquet district, the geographical and cultural centre of old Cannes, is well worth a visit for lovers of historic monuments. In addition to the famous 22-meter high tower, the Suquet is famous for its religious buildings: the Chapel of St Anne, built in the 12th century, and the Church of Our Lady of Hope, erected four centuries later.
Cannes has not only Catholic churches: Russian aristocrats needed spiritual guidance even during their holidays, and the Russian diaspora funded the construction of the Church of St Michael the Archangel in 1894.
The church is richly decorated and definitely worth a visit: try to be on Alexander III Boulevard by noon on a Sunday, when it will be open for sure.
#10. Luxury Shopping in Cannes: from famous brands to unique souvenirs
Shopping in Cannes is not for the frugal. The prices in the boutiques on La Croisette and Rue d'Antibes can come as a shock to many a Parisian and Milanese shopper and clothes should be sought elsewhere.
However, if time is short and money is tight, there are Chanel and Dior, Louis Vuitton and Dolce&Gabbana, Lacroix and Gucci shops to choose from. They are as good as those in Paris.
The mall at the Gray d'Albion on Antibes street (rue d'Antibes) is a great place to save time, if not money: most of the top brands are housed under one roof.
If it is not jeans you are after, but souvenirs of the city, visit the Forville flea market. The market is open Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (the rest of the week it's a food market). You never know what you'll take away, but the purchase is guaranteed to be unique.
Once you're in the film industry capital, it's hard to resist buying souvenirs, especially as they are inventive and diverse at a reasonable price.
At dozens of outlets, in addition to the obligatory keyrings and pens with the Cannes festival logo, you will be offered to buy a "film clapper", antique posters and announcements of films from a century ago and portraits of pre-war stars.
Where to stay in Cannes?
If not for the quantity, then for the quality of hotels and the variety of choices, Cannes is quite capable of competing with Paris. Prices for luxury accommodation are often higher than in the capital, especially on the days of the famous film festival. There are also local specifics to consider when planning your holiday.
The most expensive hotels are on the Croisette. That said, the price of a room in the same class at the same hotel can vary significantly: in Cannes you pay not only for the room but also for the view from the windows.
If you can't see the sea from a room, the cost is by definition low. One of the main trump cards of elite hotels in Cannes is a private beach. And such attributes as a beach chair and a beach umbrella sometimes have to be booked in advance for extra money.
Room rates in such hotels usually range between 500 € and 600 €. However, with the help of reservation systems, it is possible to find substantial discounts.
Catamaran vacation: seasonality and climate in Cannes
There is a distinct seasonality in Cannes: at the end of August, French holidaymakers return home, the beaches become empty and prices in restaurants and hotels go down. This is the perfect time to travel.
In early to mid-autumn, when the sea is still warm and there are far fewer holidaymakers, room rates, even in luxury hotels, can fall by half or three times.
Because of the influence of the Mediterranean Sea in the autumn, the temperature in Cannes in September is the same as in June, and the sea is much warmer.
Cannes is fortunate with its climate, from humid Mediterranean winters to sunny summers with temperatures that are moderate for the south of France. Summer can be hot, but rarely do they reach the upper echelons. But the heat on the coast rarely reaches +30 °C.
The small Esterel mountain range partially shelters Cannes from the cold Provençal weather.
Want to visit Cannes in 1 day?
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We will do everything we can to make your Mediterranean sailing vacations as comfortable as possible. Discover what sights you can see in 1 day on a Mediterranean cruise in Cannes.