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Things To Do In Cannes
Located in the Provence-Alpes-Maritimes department in the French Riviera, Cannes is a city blessed with elegant streets, charming cafes and luxury hotels. While Cannes is small enough to explore most of its attractions in just a single day, that doesn’t mean that the city lacks in any department.
Once just a small fishing village from the 2nd-century BC, Cannes is now one of the most sought after tourist destinations in France and enjoys a reputation of being a glitzy and glamorous city that is host to the annual Cannes Film Festival and is mostly known to be frequented by the rich and famous. The stylish boutiques and fancy restaurants may feature at the pricier end of the spectrum for the average traveller, but some of Cannes’ best features like the balmy Mediterranean climate, golden beaches and lavish architecture, are absolutely free. Detailed below is our list of some of the best things to do in Cannes.
Take a Walk on La Croisette
Much like the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, La Croisette is one of the most popular hang-out spots for the tourists and locals alike in Cannes. Whether it’s a meeting with friends for drinks and dinner, or just a lazy evening spent people-watching in one of the fancy cafes of the boulevard, a venue like La Croisette often appeals to people with all kinds of tastes. The mile-long promenade is lined with beaches on one side and impressive buildings and hotels on the other. Strolling along the promenade isn’t just a tourist’s favourite pastime; locals frequent the venue on a daily basis for daily chores like walking their pets, shopping or working out. The palm-lined La Croisette also has ice-cream stalls and food vendors for you to grab a snack on-the-go as you walk along admiring the fantastic Belle-Epoque architecture.
Shop at Marché Forville
Most cities of France are known for their street markets that are usually held either daily or weekly. Cannes’ covered market Marché Forville is one of the oldest ones in France dating back to 1934, and also the most important one in the city. A variety of seasonal produce that includes fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from the south of France can be purchased here, apart from meat and meat-related products, cheeses, exotic seafood, gourmet olives and much more. The market is held every day of the week except for Mondays, when it is replaced by the local flea market known an brocante. Marché Forville is frequented by locals as much as the tourists, which allows a glimpse into the daily life routine of Cannes; a rare sight in the glitzy Cannes scene. Restaurants in the city also use this market for their choicest supplies. Apart from the fresh produce, some local delicacies sold in the stalls here are the highlight of the market. Visitors can simply grab one of their favourite snacks from the stalls and pair it a glass of wine from the bars just outside the market.
Hiking at La Croix-des-Gardes
A national park spread over an area of more than 200 acres, La Croix-des-Gardes features several hiking trails and routes that eventually meet at the location of a giant cross situated at the highest point. The grounds of the park were laid out by an English couple sometime in the 19th-century when the city of Cannes was just a small village. The couple were on their way to Nice and had to make a temporary stop in Cannes; they fell in love with the region so much that they bought a small chateau here and laid out extensive gardens around it. Apart from trekking and hiking, the park is also popular among cyclists for its challenging trails.
Attend the Fireworks Festival
The Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique is an international event that takes place for several nights during the summer months of July and August in Cannes. For more than 20 years, the festival has been bringing together some of the best firework designers from around the world and gathering them in one spot for a colourful battle of the best pyrotechnic display that illuminates Cannes Bay on multiple warm summer nights. The winner receives the Silver Vestal and comes back to compete in the prestigious Gold Vestal that is held every four years. Almost 200,000 spectators gather on La Croisette to watch the spectacular show unfold each year.
Explore the Beaches
The beaches in Cannes are numerous and exciting, not to forget so lovely that they could give serious competition to any other Mediterranean destination you may have visited before. The gorgeous seaside views and the calm still waters offer the best opportunities for indulging in water sports and even bathing in the ocean. There are almost seven kilometres of beach property in Cannes, with many of them being private ones that are owned by hotels. However, some of the best public beaches are free for all visitors and only charge a small fee for use of their lounge chairs and parasols. Some of the best open beaches are Plages du Midi, the Macé Beach, the Mouré Rouge Beach near the fishing ports and Les Rochers beach that is great for snorkelling.
Being a seaside resort town, Cannes has numerous beaches that are privately held by hotels. These shores require entrance fees and are often accompanied by fancy restaurants within the property. Some of the most fashionable private beaches in town are the Plage Croisette situated along La Croisette, Baoli Beach, Bijou Plage and Maema Plage among others.
In a tourist destination as fancy as Cannes, shopping is bound to be one of the best pastimes to explore. It is worthy of note here though, that most stores and shopping streets in Cannes might prove a little pricey for your pocket. Nonetheless, even if the high-end brands of this luxuriant city is something you can’t afford, ‘window-shopping’ – or as the French call it, ‘lechér les vitrines’ – is just as popular an activity here as is the actual shopping itself.
Begin your excursion on La Croisette that is lined by lavish brands like Dior, Gucci etc. where you’ll find most of the rich crowds of the city gathered. Rue d’Antibes is located behind and parallel to La Croisette and is another popular spot among shopping enthusiasts. While some of the chicest boutiques line this street, you’ll also find chocolatiers and luxury bakers nestled between the numerous stores here. Between La Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, Carré d’Or is the go-to street for all the glitzy jewellery shopping that might interest you in Cannes.
Musical Nights at Le Suquet
Le Suquet is the oldest neighbourhood in Cannes and also the original site of the Roman settlement that founded the city of Cannes. Situated atop the hill Mont Chevalier, Le Suquet is one place in Cannes that will transport you back to the 18th and 19th-century version of the city with its ancient historic remnants, narrow staircases nestled between pastel-coloured buildings and old cobblestone streets. Walking around the neighbourhood, visitors can enjoy brilliant panoramic views of the old harbour, the Palais des Festivals and La Croisette. Two of the most prominent buildings in Le Suquet are the Church of Notré-Dame D’Esperance and the Castre Museum located right next to it.
Eglisé Notre-Dame D’Esperance is also the location of the Nuits Musicales du Suquet or the Musical Night of Le Suquet; an annual classical music festival organised in July each year. The courtyard of the church becomes the venue for the event that goes on for about a week and features performances by individual pianists, violinists and vocalists and also large symphonic concerts.
Experience Cannes Film Festival
If you’re in Cannes in May, it’s impossible to miss the Cannes Film Festival. The event involves screenings of films that are participating in the festival followed by the awarding ceremony of the prestigious Palme d’Or to the winning entries. This celebration of both independent and mainstream cinema brings in some of the biggest names in the film industry and transforms Cannes into one of the most popular tourist destinations during this month.
The festival features events that take place all over the city, but the La Croisette witnesses the main concentration of the celebration with Palais des Festivals being the venue of the award ceremony. While the main event isn’t open to the public, the two weeks of the festival witness movie screenings in multiple places and create a special buzz all over the city where one can spot celebrities casually strolling among the locals.