"Direction Cannes" Top 5 Page for this destination Cannes by NiceLife

Cannes Travel Guide: 469 reviews and 1,181 photos

Beach, hotels & restaurants - heading for the sun

The story of Cannes

Height of the season, the thermometer just crossed 30C, bodies are turning brown and the bar bill is climbing with alaming speed. No matter - you are here for the Riviera experience, and you are going to have to pay. Bienvenue a Cannes (leading credit cards accepted).

A hundred and fifty years ago Cannes was just a simple fishing village. The British Lord Chancellor Lord Brougham was on his way to Winter in Italy, as was the custom, when he found his progress blocked by a military cordon sanitaire established to prevent spread of an outbreak of Cholera. He was taken with his enforced stopover, warming to the charms of Cannes and decided to make it his future winter base. He returned each year, and in his footsteps came more British high society, soon making "Brighton-on-the-Med" Europe's most fashionable tourist destination.

In the harbour, royal playboys moored their "batchelor pad" yatchs. Ladies eager to find themselves in the company of royalty found the invitation card to "join the Prince of Wales on his yatch" impossible to resist. (I mean, ladies, could you, honestly?) It was said Queen Victoria despaired of her son's escapades, but at least, on the Riviera, such frivolous pleasures were out of sight. Victoria held court in Cimiez over five Winters while eldest son "Bertie" partied in Cannes. His final accession to the British throne alas meant farewell the Riviera. But Cannes was already on a roll...

Lacking any essential industry other than pleasure, the canny Cannes municipality saw potential in the Conference Industry, and in 1983 up went the Palais de Festivals. Now hardly a week goes by without the fifth world annual conference of something or other, attended by armies of earnest young men in suits carrying laptops, barking down mobile phones and poring over their Blackberrys to ensure they "stay in the loop" - ie. that their department is not downsized or outsourced whilst away on their Riviera freebie

Cannes scooped the pot when it established its annual Film Festival, held in May each year. Stars stars stars. Hollywood-sur-mer. It screams glamour. So much so the low-cost airlines briefly cease to be low-cost. The papparazzi book every available seat a year in advance.

The Croisette is the essential Cannes promenading and people-watching stretch along the beach-front. Outside the luxury grand hotels you can press your nose against the windscreen of Lamboughinis and Ferraris, and speculate on who's who.

So that is Cannes today: luxury hotels, private beaches, expensive restaurants, fashion shopping, glamorous and ritzy people. There is something deeply appealing about the shallowness of Cannes. Dip in, if you can afford it, dip in even if you can't. - there's still a little public beach left.

Cruise the Croisette, or explore the Old Town

There are two Cannes. The one of beaches and luxury hotels which line the front, where Lamborghinis jostle with the Ferraris for parking space at the height of the season. The other Cannes, of the old town area of Le Suquet, tucked behind the port, crammed full of narrow streets with tiny boutiques, restaurants, galleries and various shops.

Add a little colour to the scene. Sit out at a beachfront cafe and order the standard thirstquencher, l'eau gazeuse Perrier avec sirop de menthe, or ask for a biere pression "Monaco" - draft beer with grenadine, which turns it a rich red.

Shopping in the Rue d'Antibes

Every designer label is here in the elegant Rue d'Antibes. Saturday afternoon it really buzzes. The crowds throng, everybody has the right style - and is eagerly looking for more. Sale time is good - expect 70% off at least. Otherwise, why not play "Fantasy Credit Card" . With shoes to die for at only 500 euros a pop, you could soon make up an imaginary wardrobe that would put footballers wives to shame.

Fashion Note:
The large sun glasses must be worn, preferrably mouted on the forehead. The Style Police issue on-the-spot fines for tourists caught wearing socks with sandals. The style is "young fashion", however old you are.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The glamour of the Cote d'Azur - St Tropez's big sister
  • Cons:Steel yourself for outrageous prices
  • In a nutshell:A Riviera "must do"
  • Last visit to Cannes: Jan 2011
  • Intro Updated Feb 5, 2011
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Reviews (52)

Comments (20)

  • Sep 9, 2008 at 2:41 PM

    yeah, if picasso burnt his art work and covered it in copious amounts of cheese!!!!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2008 at 3:45 AM

    Hello, Andrew! Your pages are traveling encyclopaedias of that area! Thanks a lot!

  • AGGSBAGGS40's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2007 at 12:04 AM

    Hi Andrew Would an orange Ferrari beat this green monstrosity. Allison

  • Aug 13, 2007 at 2:11 PM

    Not too many people fancy chips when it's hot- thank god there aren't any kiosks selling them! Ther's always McDonalds if you're desperate. The snacks at the kiosks are much better value than in the UK. Buy drinks from supermarkets

  • chicabonita's Profile Photo
    Aug 13, 2007 at 1:03 PM

    I'm missing the Majestic Barriere in your list, or is it not posh and expensive enought? :-)

  • KayDenmark's Profile Photo
    Dec 30, 2006 at 11:24 AM

    I think the best option for eating in Cannes is to buy some great fresh fruit at one of the open markets, perhaps with some local sausage and local cheese, and make a picnic!

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Oct 18, 2006 at 11:36 PM

    Hi Andrew. I really enjoyed your tips & gorgeous photos! It's a well-known fact that also members from "our" Royal Family vacation in Cannes... thanks for the great page; and greetings from Dubai :-) Jess

  • Bilimari's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2006 at 3:26 PM

    I'm going to Cannes later this month. Great info. thank you!

  • vivimero's Profile Photo
    Aug 23, 2005 at 3:02 AM

    but..do you know if on the ship there is a full board like with costa cruises or not?? cannot read it on the website...

  • Luisanna's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2005 at 12:29 PM

    Great tips, it must be crazy during festivel times, would have lovev to be there., oh well there's always a next time :-))

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