Cannes is one of the cities where one can spend an unforgettable time and most likely will come across a celebrity especially if visiting this resort town on the south of France during May when the famous Cannes Film Festival is held on, an event for which Cannes is most famous for.
The celebrities pick for reveling in the beauty of the Mediterranean in this particular town is enough, I suppose, for us the mortals to accept the fact that Cannes is truly special and even more tempting for a visit. What is known to be a fishing village once, today Cannes is recognized as one luxury and trendy Mediterranean jewel.
With only 19.62 km², and a population of nearly 75,000 with all those rich and famous footsteps, that passed through the well-known streets such as La Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, at first glance it may seem like Cannes is moreover of a private property that anyone could only dream of visiting. But, luckily Cannes has it all and you don’t have to be rich or celebrity to pay a visit to this glamorous town resort and enjoy the beauty of it all.
WHAT’S THERE ON LA CROISETTE BOULEVARD?
The good thing is that in Cannes there are just a few alleys I’d say and it would be really hard for anyone not to find an easy way around Cannes. Heart and soul of Cannes is the well-known La Croisette boulevard that stretches along the 2 kilometers long coast where most of the beaches are located.
Here, or very close to this boulevard, one can find everything worth seeing or spending money on, a lot of money. At La Croisette, the best brands in the world such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Cartier have their luxury boutiques offering the most rare pieces of clothes and products that probably you won’t have the opportunity to get across in other shopping malls.
Shopping under the open sky is much more convenient and trilling than in closed shopping malls. Strolling the Cannes famous streets such as La Croisette, Rue d’Antibes or the historic pedestrian street Rue Meynadier with the 18th century buildings that are home to the chic and modern boutiques, in one leisurely afternoon, soaking up the Mediterranean sun on the skin along the way and admiring to the imposing designers extravagant and unique apparel is truly one rare and uncommon experience.
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Home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
The Cannes Film Festival has an enormous contribution of bringing the glamour to this town, rising it to such immense and prestigious level. This street is home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, opened in 1982, where every year the Cannes Film Festival is held on, an industry-only festival, with very strict access policies.
This year, the 71st edition of th festival will start on 8th of May and last until the 19th of May. The most desired place to be in May, since Cannes can offer a much greater pleasure and relaxation on the way. So, we’re all there, mortals and celebs, sharing the Mediterranean Sea and sun in one laid-back ambient waiting for the show to begin.
It’s pretty notable though how the movie stars are more open and spontaneous when giving all those interviews and how different their attitude is from the Oscars, for example. In fact, the idea of the festival was to bring the world a festival that was free of pressure and constraints.
Moreover, the great Mediterranean Sea, astonishing sandy beaches, luxurious and leisurely hotels situated on the beachfront, providing the best service for their guest experience to be more than satisfactory one, has a significant part to it as well.
Favorite luxury hotels of the movie stars
The good thing is that the most of the stars enjoy conveniently accommodating near the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and luckily for the rest of us, this is a great opportunity for celebrity sighting as chances to come across on some of them between the interviews, photo shootings and elegant dinners are very huge.
In Cannes, there are a few luxury hotels that are celebs favorites, located on La Croisette boulevard just a few steps away from Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. The iconic Intercontinental Carlton Hotel, where Grace Kelly met her future husband Prince Rainier III is located on the beautiful seashore and the Croisette Promenade. The building itself is an extraordinary example of the French Art Nouveau architecture, featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, To Catch A Thief starring Grace Kelly. Opened in 1911, this gorgeous hotel can offer executive rooms designed in Hollywood style from the 1950s as well as rooms named after some famous actors. With stunning and engaging views these luxury rooms were privileged to many famous celebrities especially during the Cannes Film Festival, the busiest period of the year for Carlton establishment in Cannes.
There are few more luxurious hotels located at the La Croisette such as Hotel Martinez, a beautiful Art Deco style building, where Julianne Moore and Bruce Willis were guests and Hotel Le Majestic that sits just above some of the town’s most exclusive designer shops was the first choice of the outstanding names of the film industry such as Matthew McConaughey and Robert De Niro.
Speaking of celebrities, the frontmen of the famous pop group U2, Bono Vox owns a villa in Cannes, worth 3 million euros. Being one of the most frequent visitors of Cannes, one can easily see him somewhere along the coast, at some point or another.
White sandy beaches under the Mediterranean sun
La Croisette is one long promenade along which the beautiful Cannes beaches are located. The Mediterranean Sea, sun and the white sandy beaches here are just the same at every part of the coast, except for the fact that some of them belong to the Cannes luxury hotels which means that you have to be a guest of the hotel or pay for the use of their amenities and services.
For the rest of the public beaches, the enjoyment of it all is for free. From luxury hotels with private beaches and celebs as guests to public ones and locals favorites. Besides the private ones, that belong to the extravagant hotels located at the beachfront where most of the wealthy tourists are welcomed, at the public beaches, such as Plage de la Boca, Palm Beach, and Plage du Midi, you can bring your own amenities, a parasol, and even food if you’d prefer not spending a dime at one of the restaurants and kiosks, rather enjoy shopping in the markets and groceries instead. It’s always a good idea to spend some time in the cafes at the beach though, have a little chat with the people there since they always give a good suggestion on how to get the best of your stay. At Plage Mace, during the Cannes Film Festival, one can watch the projections of the premiers on the widescreen placed at the beach.
When you think about it, the best thing about Cannes is that you really don’t have to leave the beach at all. Enjoying the weather, the sun and the sea it’s a recommended activity all day long. Even better, everything is close by, walking and talking, cooling off with an ice cream on La Croisette or just taking a coffee break at the Vieux Port and people watching for a while would be simply great. In Cannes and La Croisette, there are few nice and yet very affordable restaurants as well, offering specialties from 10 to 25 euros. Moreover in just a few steps away is where the Cannes glamour is uncovered at the luxurious designers’ shops and at the imposing hotels, the celebs favorites.
One of the oldest ports in Europe, The Vieux Port is a host of the most spectacular annual happening, the Cannes Yachting Festival held every year with exhibits of world-class yacht models. This year the 41st edition of the festival will take place on the 11th of September. From the port, there are available ferryboats excursions that will take you to nearby Lerins Islands, a 15 minutes boat trip from the Cannes coast.
You can do two things in Cannes, spend a lot of money or watch for free.
Meaning you can own a big yacht and sail along the Mediterranean or relax and watch the boats at the Old Harbor. You can spend thousands of euros on shopping or just experience one window shopping. Accommodate in one of the hotels or just spend your time on the public beaches, the local’s spot for socializing.
The only thing that’s missing in the picture it’s the boulevard itself.
If only could this boulevard be pedestrianized where people can freely walk, go to the beach, ride a bike or Segways. It really doesn’t look very inviting with so many traffic and cars between the shops, hotels, restaurants and the beach. If the rich don’t prefer walking they can always use one of those nice electric cars that they drive at the golf courses (or something similar). Only then, La Croisette and Cannes can be welcomed in the club of ”the heavenly places on Earth”.
CANNES OTHER SIDE
Although the French culture and the rich history of France are pretty remarkable and recognized all over the world including the high fashion, still for Cannes and its international recognition, the French may give their gratitude and say merci to the British.
Once upon a time, there was this guy, a British Lord Brougham that was traveling to Italy. On the way, he made a stop in this fishing village of Cannes, like it so much that he decided to build the villa (in 1835) Eleonore – Louise, named after his daughter. Later on, in the following decades, many of the British nobility built their properties in Cannes, an area known as the English quarter. In fact, Cannes has a long history of lords and princes. In the 19th century, Russian aristocrats enjoyed very much spending their money here as well taking a part in sports such as regattas and golf.
Finally, with the Cannes Film Festival and the presence of the most famous movie stars, such as Kirk Douglas, Alen Delon, Sophia Loren to name a few from the 1950s Cannes gain a reputation of a glamorous city and appealing destination of the wealthy people.
Cannes appeared as a fishing village on the Mediterranean coast and at the time being it was used to protect the four Lerins Islands, from which, the two bigger ones, Saint Marguerite and Saint Honorat are inhabited. The Christian monks settled on the mainland defending the islands from a Muslims attack.
Today the Saint Honorat island is inhabited by monks where they produce wine. This beautiful island is one of the must-do activities while in Cannes. A guided tour by the monks will lead you through the history of Cannes and the islands. In the 17th century on the Island of Saint Marguerite in the prison of Fort Royal, the most dangerous criminals were exiled. Among which the Man in an Iron Mask was the most dangerous one. For those that have seen the movie, named after this criminal, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as a leading role are already familiar with the story.
The Sea Museum (Musee de la Mer) is hosted by the Fort Royal where one, among the archeological collections, can find important underwater materials found near the Lerins Islands. Today this fort is open to the public, you can visit the museum and find out more of the secrets related to the prison as well.
Cannes old quarter – Le Suquet
Le Suquet is what is known as the old part of the town overlooking the Bay of Cannes, La Croisette street, and the Lerins Islands. Above the old quarter of Cannes stands the Museum de la Castre with its prestigious art collections, Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance church, and the Clock Tower, built in the 11th century by the monks. It’s the area of the fishermen in Cannes with 400 years old buildings and narrow pedestrianized streets.
At Rue Saint Antoine one can find many restaurants offering the best specialties of the area with authentic interiors. You can find the Marche Forville Market here, in the old quarter, try and buy the freshest vegetables and fruits, a lot of seafood such as fresh fish and catch of the day as well as oysters, cheese, meat, pasta, and flowers. A wide range of local high-quality products and specialties are offered in Marche Forville.
Few free spots worth visiting
Believe it or not, Cannes offers even more spots that can be enjoyed for free.
The Croix-des-Gardes is a natural forest park where you can spend one nice afternoon, admire the view and greenery. Most of the villas built in the 19th century, in this district with the same name, are surrounded by botanical gardens. One of the most imposing and attractive is the Château de la Croix des Gardes, built in Medici style. Appears as the Sandford Villa in the Alfred Hitchcock’s film To Catch a Thief, from 1955 with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in main roles.
Even though The Bubble House (Le Palais Bulles) is a private property located in Théoule-sur-Mer, near Cannes, I’d like to mention it since it is truly one extraordinary example of the modern architecture. Designed by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag in the form of bubbles, with spherical modules, this sculpture house was later on bought by the designer Pierre Cardin as his holiday home.
Explore more of the museums and architectural style of the buildings in Cannes. Most of the museums in Cannes have a free entry every first Sunday of the month. Worth visiting is the Musee de Grasse (or The Perfume Museum) and Picasso Museum as well, which are located not so far from Cannes.