City description

Having your picture taken on the steps of the Palais des Festivals, then walking along La Croisette and sitting on one of the famous blue chairs on the promenade, facing the Mediterranean. Clichéd? Never! It’s classic, like a beloved movie that we never tire of watching.

These and other timeless pleasures are what make Cannes a high-end destination for travellers. Days spent in gourmet restaurants, designer boutiques and beach clubs. Nights filled with cosmopolitan parties along the Côte d’Azur, the perfect occasions for showing off chic designer dresses and suits from the Carré d’Or. The Mediterranean coast’s leading city has symbolised all the glamour of the Riviera since the debut of the planet’s most famous film festival. The second half of May is when film buffs, celebrities and journalists from the world over come together against the backdrop of the city’s iconic palm trees, beaches, hotels and mansions.

But Cannes’ quintessential Provençal character is also what makes it so exceptional. The discovery begins with views of the sea and the Lérins Islands from the square tower that has reigned over the city since the 12th century. At its foot, the remains of the Lérins monks’ castle are home to the Castre Museum. Art from around the world mingles with Greco-Roman antiquities and the works of the lesser-known Cannes masters. In the 19th century, these local talents were already celebrating the beauty, light and colours of the shoreline. Further on, Notre-Dame d’Espérance Church is the epitome of authentic Provençal architecture. Continuing down Suquet hill, it’s a pleasure to get lost amongst the historic centre’s alleyways with colourful facades, and explore the market stalls of Forville – the beating heart of the old city – before continuing on to the Vieux-Port. As in a mythical poster, the contrast between opulent yachts, old sailing ships and colourful rowboats is known to all. The image of moored vessels and the tiled roofs that rise up behind them perfectly sums up this juxtaposition between the charms of an old fishing village and the Côte d’Azur luxury that feeds Cannes’ dream and fame. Not far from the harbour, petanque players cheerfully challenge one another under the flower market’s plane trees at Allées de la Liberté. Here – between the Vieux-Port, La Croisette and Le Suquet – is the privileged rendezvous point for Cannes residents and weekend visitors. Roses, lavender and mimosas give way to antique dealers, artists and artisans.

For more than 150 years, the aristocracy and wealthy British families, and then all of Europe, have left their mark on Cannes, one of the world’s most popular holiday resorts. The nearby areas are full of spectacular mansions, villas and castles inspired by trends from the 19th century to the present day – as well as the whims of their owners. The city and its surroundings possess an important Art Deco heritage with magnificent Belle Époque buildings, but also real architectural curiosities like Scott Castle, a Gothic palace straight from Scotland. Discover the history of these oceanfront homes with a boat cruise around the bay. Even today, luxury residences are multiplying on the heights, where the jet set enjoys a breathtaking panorama of this exceptional site. Another witness to this established cosmopolitanism is Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church, built in 1894 to accommodate the then booming Russian community. Its mosaic roofs and blue-bulb belltower rise up, most unexpectedly, above the Pointe Croisette neighbourhood, at the foot of La Californie hill.

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