Cannes. The word conjures up images of movie-screen glamour – Brigitte Bardot posing for the cameras along La Croisette, the latest starlet stepping off a speedboat to waiting crowds – but the charm of this seaside Mediterranean spot goes beyond its movie heritage. From charming cobblestone villages to hidden restaurants, read on for our secret Cannes insider’s take on the town.
Find your Sea Legs
Late spring is the best time of year on the Riviera. The weather is mild, and the golden sunlight on the water just takes your breath away. Cannes cannot be fully understood without taking to the water – by fishing boat, speedboat, or of course, million-dollar yacht. Plan to spend at least one day enjoying the pleasures of the ocean from on board ship. Pack a picnic of treats from the market, a cooler with champagne (this is the Riviera after all) and a few of your closest friends. Enjoy your lunch on deck overlooking the colorful buildings of the town then stop for a swim alongside the Lerins Islands before heading back along the coast as the sun begins to set – sheer bliss.
Enjoy a Seaside Stroll
For a tour through classic Cannes, take a stroll along La Croisette – the town’s iconic oceanfront promenade – and admire the manicured palm trees, stylish shops and beautiful people along the way – you can even stop for a selfie on the famous festival steps. Keep going all the way west past the vieux port and you’ll find yourself among the colorful cobbled narrow streets of Le Suquet – the quartier des artistes. Watch artists at work in their studios before walking up the hill to the the Castre museum housed in the atmospheric surroundings of ruined castle to explore its collection of impressionists works and local archeological finds. For a panoramic view of the town and the bay climb the 109 steps to the top of the tower. Stay in Le Suquet for a light tapas dinner at Le Jardin Secret on rue des Frères, a romantic restaurant hidden inside a walled garden.
Hunt for Perfect Patisseries
Coffee and a croissant on the Rivieria might sound like a cliché, but when something tastes this good, who are we to argue? Volupté on rue Hoche is a must-stop on your adventures – the combination of rich coffee and buttery, flaky pastry is impossible to resist, while the the cozy surroundings invite you to stay a while. For those that can’t visit France without a taste of the ever-chic macaron, Ladurée has an outpost here on rue Antibes. Whether you try classic pistachio, delicate orange blossom or the new marshmallow, the colorful treats are sure to delight, plus the store is just so pretty.
Recapture that Riviera Glamour
A short drive from Cannes are the towns of Juan les Pins and Antibes, famed haunts of glamorous ex-pat writers, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Graham Greene. In fact, those wealthy British and American residents help turn a sleepy corner of France into the world’s most stylish destination in the 1920s and 30s. The beauty Fitzgerald describes in Tender is the Night – “The diffused magic of the hot sweet South” – still surrounds you here. Feel the remnants of that mythical era as you wander the winding alleyways of Antibes, walk along the ramparts or peruse the bounty at the daily Marché Provençal. Save time for a quick stop in at the Picasso museum at the Chateau Grimaldi to see the well-known La Joie de Vivre, which he painted while living at the Chateau. Cap off your foray into the past with a cocktail at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, immortalized in Fitzgerald’s novel as Gausse’s Hotel, with one of the most spectacular Mediterranean views you’ll ever see.
Where to stay in Cannes
Photographs: Shutterstock.com; Victoria Lipov/Shutterstock.com