Cannes, an upscale resort town along the French Riviera, has some of the most luxurious villas in France for rent, the best sandy beaches and warm Mediterranean waters. Tourists often come to taste the high-quality food in a beautiful environment and enjoy the World famous Cannes Film Festival. Here’s a mini-guide on taking a holiday to one of France’s most laid-back towns.
When is the Best Time to Visit Cannes?
Summer often has temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s whereas winters rarely get particularly cold. The coastal town also gets many sunny days during the year. Visitors often come in the warmer months to enjoy the beach and swim in the Med or to attend the Film Festival in May. But, Cannes also transforms into a Christmas wonderland towards the end of December with several traditional markets sprouting up. In short, Cannes makes a great tourist destination in France at any time of the year.
What are the Best Things to Do in Cannes?
Most tourists begin their holiday by exploring Boulevard de la Croisette, a large avenue hugging the coastline. A large number of hotels and resorts as well as restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops line the street. You can find stores selling fashion in upmarket boutiques along here too. Strolling along the Boulevard is an excellent experience at all times of the day. But, the best way to experience Boulevard de la Croisette is after dark when the street and beach lights up.
The old town, or Le Suquet is another popular area for tourists. Cobblestone streets and elegant buildings fill the historical centre. And you can get some of the best photographs of La Croisette from Le Suquet. Other attractions include churches including a Russian Orthodox and the Chapel of St Anne, museums and art galleries.
St Honorat is one of two islands to the south of Cannes. Regular ferries connect the port to both islands within less than 30 minutes. You can see the ruins of a castle and a monastery where monks sell locally produced wine and a variety of other souvenirs and handicraft. St Marguerite is the larger island and has a better infrastructure for tourism with more cafes, bars and restaurants. Both islands are similar and you only really need to visit one or the other.
How to Get Around Cannes:
Cannes is relatively small, and most people prefer to get around on foot. Locals and tourists often enjoy strolling along Boulevard de la Croisette with the sea to one side and the town to the other. Exploring the old town is also much easier when you’re walking. Everything is close to each other and it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to get from one attraction to the next. Besides, when you’re on foot, you’ll discover serendipitous cafes or that perfect photo opportunity you would have otherwise missed.
But, there’s also another reason why exploring the city on foot is a good idea, especially for the first time visitor. Cannes operates on a one-way system and getting around the streets without the wrong turn is challenging, even for locals. For this reason, you should only rent a car and consider driving when you’re familiar with the streets.
The buses in Cannes are fast, reliable and efficient with routes extending to the outer suburbs including Mandelieu-La Napoule and La Bocca District. Tickets are inexpensive, and if you plan to use the bus quite a lot during your trip, a pack of 10 tickets gives the user a 10% discount. Taxis are always available, but they tend to be expensive for the relatively short distances covered.
Travel Tips: If you want to spend a few hours at the beach, you need to be very careful or be faced with a hefty bill. Many of the beaches tend to be privately owned, which means the owners can charge tourists whatever they like for the privilege. Expect to pay anywhere up to €30 for a spot that includes a sunbed and umbrella. And the public beaches are usually crowded at all times of the day. So, if you do want to visit the beach, either head to the more secluded ones such as those on St Honorat and St Marguerite or go a little further down the coast.
When you’re in Cannes, take advantage of day trips. Visiting Monaco, one of the smallest countries in the world, makes a perfect place to go for the day. There are several ways to get from Cannes to Monaco and Monte-Carlo. Either take the bus or train or drive yourself. The first two have regular departures whereas the driving gives you the chance to explore more of the surrounding area. It’s also possible to travel by boat with the journey taking just over an hour.
For those who want to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, check out the boutiques and designer shops along La Croisette and rue d’Antibes. Everything from expensive fashion fresh out of Milan and London to more affordable choices are available in these locations. The old town is a perfect place to buy souvenirs too.
Anyone who visits this small town on the French Riviera will find something that they love. With year-round pleasant weather, fantastic scenery and a pretty old town, tourists will find they always have something new to enjoy. Just remember, it’s best to explore Cannes on foot unless you know the streets and you should take the opportunity to visit one of the two islands and Monaco.
Photo via The Rooftop Guide.