Glittery and glamorous, Cannes attracts money just by being beautiful. The beaches are sandy, the boutiques smart , the restaurants elegant. Wealthy French people retire here, and anybody with a yacht simply must make a stop here, preferably during the famous Cannes Film Festival in May. Not that Cannes goes back to sleep the rest of the year! There's a year-round schedule of prestigious conferences, events, festivals and concerts. (see the Palais des Festivals site for a full calendar of Cannes events).
Cannes may not have the cultural scene of Nice but when you stroll down La Croisette, admiring the parade of women clad in the latest fashion and men clad in the latest cars you might not much care. (see a street map of Cannes)
Once upon a time, Cannes was bordered by reeds which provided the rationale for its original name, Canna. The modest sea settlement was backed by a high hill, Le Suquet, upon which early Romans built a fort that served as a defensive post for many centuries. What was it defending? Mostly the offshore Lerins islands which were the target of frequent raids by the Saracens, French and Spanish. Cannes nevertheless remained on the sidelines of history until 1834. That was the year that a certain Lord Brougham was prevented from reaching his hideway in Nice by a cholera epidemic. He was forced to stay in Cannes and, pleasantly surprised, decided to build a villa and return every year with his aristocratic British friends. Cannes became fashionable and stayed fashionable. Its new foreign friends built lavish villas that attracted everyone from Maupassant to the Rothschilds to the Russian aristocracy.
Things to See & Do in Cannes
Stay in Cannes
If you arrive by train, get away from that bleak neighbourhood as soon as possible. Ah, that's better. Now head to the seaside promenade La Croisette for a nice stroll, admiring the curve of the bay. La Croisette is an easy 10-minute walk downhill from the train station.
Perhaps stretch out on one of Cannes' beaches? Head west to the Old Port, noticing Les Allées de la Liberté, a park shaded with plane trees, between the Port and the town. Now, take the picturesque rue Saint-Antoine as it winds its way up the hill to the tiny Suquet neighbourhood, the last remnant of Vieux Cannes. If you have more time in Cannes, I highly recommend a boat trip to the Ile des Lérins. Frequent boats leave all summer to the verdant Ile Sainte-Marguerite (15 minutes) and Ile Saint Honorat (30 minutes) Both are car-free and lined with mostly rocky beaches. The Ile Sainte-Marguerite is where The Man in the Iron Mask was once imprisoned. You can also visit the Royal Fort, built by Richelieu and reinforced by Vauban in 1712. It's now the site of a Maritime Museum.
Getting to Cannes
Flights to Cannes usually land at the Nice International Airport although there is a small airport at Cannes for private planes.
Trains to Cannes all stop at the main train station, the Gare. Check schedules and buy tickets on thetrainline.
Buses to Cannes are handled by Flixbus and board at the Gare Routiere.
Getting Around Cannes
By bus. Cannes's bus network is run by Bus Azur. Tickets are €1.50 which you can buy from the driver.
Tourist Information in Cannes
The Cannes tourist office is located in the Festival Palace. The official Cannes municipal website, has tourist information in English.