Cannes moment to shine arrives in May as the venue for the Cannes Film Festival, entertaining the rich and famous. During the festival, fans can see actors, celebrities, and directors up close and in person on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. Although its nightlife, casinos and high end restaurants give Cannes a feel of exclusivity, Cannes does have alternatives to suit all types of budgets. Tourists can check out the beauty and architecture of Le Suquet, with its cobbled streets and breathtaking views, or sit at street side tables and enjoy the favoured hobby of people watching up and down the lovely marina.
Be aware that during peak season (August) transportation should be booked in advance, as it will sell out.
If travelling by public transit, two weeks before or after August, also be aware of the possibility of labor strikes. Strikes are common, anticipated, and highly publicized. Simply check (google) the French newspapers before purchasing your tickets.
Most people will recommend to you to use the train. But if you are at unease dropping money like a millionaire, you might as well just opt for one of the several buses.
- Nice – Buses leave from Nice Gare SNCF at 05:22, 06:23, 08:13, 11:23, 14:23, 15:12, 16:23, 17:40, 18:13, and 19:13, often daily. They take 30 min and continue to Marseille, €33 for the full distance, but Nice-Cannes should be less than €5. See http://zou.maregionsud.fr .
- Marseille – Buses leave from Marseille Saint-Charles at 05:58, 06:58, 07:58, 09:58, 11:58, 13:58, 16:56, and 18:58, often daily. They take about 2½ hr and continue to Nice, €33 for the full distance, but Marseille-Cannes should be around €25-30. See http://zou.maregionsud.fr .
- Aix-en-Provence – Does not seem to be served equally convenient.
- Coaches (Express) run from Nice to Cannes centre via the A8 motorway at a cost of around €17, every 30 min, 45 min trip duration, no view.
Trains between Nice and Cannes run every 30 min to 1 hr, with 30 min duration, and costs of €7.20. Not the mention the views are amazing, in comparison to the coaches, as the train runs adjacent the beach. You can buy your ticket at one of the many machines in the station. Sometimes on-board staff will take the time to help people with buying tickets while they are waiting for the next train. Although on-board ticketing staff are rare, the fine is stiff (minimum €100-300).
Marseille Provence Airport is also only 2 hr away by bus and train.
Taxi services from the airports are convenient, but at an astronomical price of €80 minimum; or more, if they take the scenic route.
As with Antibes, Monaco and other towns on the French Riviera, access by road at popular times can be slow and frustrating. The coast roads are generally packed, and there are few ways to descend from inland. Locals do have some tricks, like the one described below, but they are complex and do not always work. Using the train to get in is probably better. You can park in Mougins or Mouans Sartoux and take the train to Cannes.
The obvious way to Cannes from the A8 Cannes/Grasse exit is often extremely slow; you end up descending the Boulevard Carnot, which has an endless stream of traffic lights. The simplest way to avoid this congestion is to bear right immediately after you have left the A8 at the first traffic light. Then, once you are off the main road, get into the right hand lane and stay there as the road turns into a normal two-way road.
After a sharp bend there is a traffic light. Continue straight on at the light. At the next major intersection (about 1 km further), turn left following signs to Cannes.
You are now on the N85; you should stay on it, and not follow misleading signs to other bits of Cannes until you are at the bottom (a T junction with a French Telecom building on your left). Probably the easiest thing to do at this point is to turn left at this T junction and almost immediately left again. Then go into the first parking garage you can (Parking Fontville).
Another way down to the coast (this works for both Cannes and Juan les Pins/Antibes) is to go to Vallauris and descend to the coast on the D135 and then turn right (for Cannes) or left (for Antibes) when you get to the N7.
Walking can quite often be the fastest mode of transport in Cannes. It also gives you the chance to stumble upon hidden sights that you may miss otherwise.
Getting around Cannes is not a problem at all. The city is well equipped with an efficient bus system (the only public transportation available in town) that provides service not only in the city but also to neighboring La Bocca, Le Cannet and Mandelieu-La Napoule. The bus companies include STU de Cannes Bus Azur, Bus Azur, CTM Cannes La Bocca and Beltrame. They all have scheduled services with a frequency of a bus every 15 min. Tickets can be purchased on the bus or at the bus stations and cost €1.50 per ride or you can purchase a Carte 10 which gives you 10 reduced-rate tickets at the bus office. But be careful which fare you buy as buses in Cannes can be very expensive.
- Taxis de Cannes, ☏ . Taxis can be hailed on the street or you can order them by phone or internet. Fares are pre-established with an opening charge of €3.50 and subsequent charges of €1.06-2.90/km.
Cannes has all the usual hire car rental establishments (Hertz, Avis, Budget) where you can rent a car if you wish. Parking is generally not an issue. Although you will have to pay, it is recommended that you use one of the off street parking garages as this is far better than searching fruitlessly for a parking lot on the street. Moreover Cannes has a truly horrible one-way system and it is much easier to walk. The Fontville parking gives good access to the port and old town.
If you are more interested in the Croisette and/or dislike walking, then there are other parking garages that are available, like the one by the station: one of the best is the one underneath the Palais des Festivales, and the one under the Grey d'Albion hotel in Rue des Serbes.
- Old town — The usual narrow winding streets filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. The view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent.
- Covered Market (Marché Forville) — For a spectacular eating and viewing food experience, no other market in Cannes beats this for scale and variety. The market itself is at the west end of rue Meynardiers, one of the Cote's best gourmand streets.
- Palais des Festivals — Down La Croisette is the famous Palais des Festivals, where stars of the screen gather and watch films screened during the festival. Irresistible not to pose for a photograph on the 22 steps leading up to the entrance.
- Hands of the stars — Just in front of the Palais you will find a line of dozens of hand prints of famous stars and actors. Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Murs Peints — Several houses in Cannes are painted with overly large portraits of stars and movies themes. Checkout OpenStreetMap to find them.
- Suquet — A quarter with a great view over the city.
- Port — Admire the yachts of the rich and possibly famous - though true mega-yachts will be found at the International Yacht Club down the coast in Antibes.
- La Croisette — Cannes catwalk beside the sea, it is the center of the city's tourist activity and known for its luxury hotels and boutique shops.
- Beaches — The beaches are mostly private and cost up to €30 for a day's use (including sunbed and shade). The public beaches are crowded, and are found at the far east and west of town. If you want a quieter beach, a better option is to go to the Îles de Lérins, see below. At night the beaches can be tranquil, but watch out for spectacular fireworks displays (see posters/ask at tourist info) in the bay, get to the beach early to get a good spot!
- Îles de Lérins — Two islands in the bay that are definitely worth visiting. The smaller is St Honorat, which has a monastery and ruined castle. The monks sell monastery-made food/drink products like wine which make unique souvenirs. The larger island is Ste Marguerite which also has a castle, shops, bars, and restaurants. Find a quiet cove, some shade from palm trees, and a cheap snorkel before you swim around the rocky coves. A return ticket to Ste Marguerite is €11 with ferries departing every hour roughly from 7 in the morning until about 05:30 at night - ask for a timetable. The ticket to St Honorat costs €13, and visiting the fortified monastery costs €3/pax. The timetable and information is also available in a brochure kept in most hotel lobbies.
- Festival de Cannes. The most famous film festival in the world takes place in mid-May every year. The world's biggest celebrities are on hand to walk the red carpet, and thousands of films are screened in the festival and the Marché du Film, the world's biggest film market.
- Notre-Dame d'Esperance, Place de la Castre. Provençal Gothic church with wood paneling dating back to the 14th and 15th century. Also worth a look is the collection of 19th century paintings, which includes a fresco by George Roux that portrays the baptism of Christ. The church is situated on top of Suquet hill in old Cannes, the church offers visitors a fabulous view of the town and its bay.
- Croix des gardes. Natural parc area, trails and vistas
- Tour du Masque, 9, rue du Mont Chevalier, Cannes 06401. A popular attraction for history and literary buffs, the Tour du Masque is said to be haunted by the ghost of the mythical,mysterious figure known as the "Man in the Iron Mask."
- Molinard, 60, boulevard Victor-Hugo, Grasse 06130, ☏ . Follow your nose down this flower-strewn villa to learn how perfume is made and manufactured. It's an olfactory and visual feast, as well as smelling some of the world's finest perfumes. Famous perfume bottles are also on display.
- Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence, 2 rue Mirabeau, ☏ . The museum retraces everyday life in Provence from prehistoric times to the present day. The Provençal way of life is illustrated through furniture, pottery, paintings, traditional costumes and santons (Christmas crib figures). There's also an authentic formal garden for you to enjoy.
- French Riviera, CMC Cannes Riviera Gastronomie Maritime, Gare Maritime, jet Albert-Edouard, Cannes 06400, ☏ . Enjoy the view of Cannes from this luxury ship. You can choose to do either a lunch tour or an evening dinner tour. For a one flat fee you receive lunch or dinner and a tour whilst enjoying live music. The tours run daily from 12:30PM-3PM, 8:30PM-11:30p.
Residential camps for teens in Cannes (vacation courses) are proposed by ESL-Ecole Suisse de Langues during the Summer. International students from 14 to 17 years follow sessions of 1 to 5 weeks.
Cannes is renowned for its luxury boutiques and designer fashion.
The shops in Cannes are concentrated between La Croisette and rue d'Antibes - a distance easily covered on foot. Here you'll find all the luxury boutiques you could possibly desire as well as other shops selling products at a more affordable price range. The old town has any number of shops selling souvenirs as well.
Stroll, or stop by, the wide array of international designer shops that line La Croisette, which include Chanel, Dior, and Gucci. Check out the l`enfant terrible of French fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier in the Gray d'Albion arcade at number 17.
- For those with a sweet tooth, get your fix on Rue d'Antibes, which has the best chocolatiers and delicatessens
- Chez Bruno, 51 rue d'Antibes. crystallised fruit and marrons glacés
- Maiffret, 31 rue d'Antibes. Chocolates made on the premises
- Cannes English Bookshop, 11 rue Bivouac Napoléon (just by the Palais des Festivals), ☏ . If you are getting desperate to read something in English
A great street to grab yourself a bargain is on the Rue Meynadier, with a vibrant market atmosphere. Taste some sharp cheese at Ceneri, on 22 rue Meynadier, while quality wines are found at La Cave Forville, at 3 Forville Market.
A souvenir from the monastery on Ste Honorat is a good way to distinguish yourself from the other tourists toting bags of the same souvenirs.
Standard shopping hours are Monday to Saturday 10AM-12PM and 2:30PM–7:30PM. In high season, many shops do not close for lunch. Sales tax varies between 5.5% (food) to 19.6% (luxury goods).
Although it tends to get pretty pricey to eat out in Cannes, it is possible to get a delicious meal incorporating the mouth-watering, fresh regional produce sourced from the markets.
The most popular restaurants to eat at are all along the riverfront, although they are they are not particularly value for money. While the food is ok, it's overpriced, however the people watching and posing-potential is an important compensation.
The best areas for dining are the rue Meynadier, in the beautiful old district of Le Suquet, where you can dine outdoors with a stunning view of the town below, and in the back streets of the Rue de Antibes, you can find some reasonable dining options.
Vegetarians have a bit of a rough time in France generally, in that most menus classify things as fish, meat and nothing else, and the French pride themselves in eating some fairly esoteric parts of animals not found in supermarkets back home - "testicules de mouton" for example. Traditional French cuisine is expensive at best, you could consider eating in some of the more Italian places.
The most romantic setting for dining in Cannes is away from the conference/ expense account circuit of central Cannes, in the historic quarter of Le Cannet, a northern suburb of Cannes some two kilometers away. Accessible by taxi or local buses, Vieux Le Cannet looks down over Cannes, and at its best vantage point is the large tree lined open square of Place Bellvue, tables alfresco, bounded by four or five quality restaurants patronized mainly by French "in the know". The Place Bellvue is on the main street rue St Sauver, home to artists ateliers and picture-postcard old French scenes. Well worth the extra effort.
- 1 Philcat. Sells Pan Bagnat, but quite expensive for €6.
- 24 Suquet Restaurant, 24 rue du Suquet, ☏ . Located in the old town of Cannes, this chic and cosy restaurant serves fine Provincial cuisine in an atmosphere that is as welcoming as it is becoming.
- Le Caveau 30, 45 rue Félix Faure, ☏ . Fresh seafood and produce worth coming back for, at this upscale restaurant that tends to get quite crowded in the summer months. Impressive wine list to go with the varied menu options and the staff are always attentive and professional.
- Palm Square, 1 allées de la Liberté, ☏ . Chic and ultra trendy, the Palm Square is the place to eat tasty food surrounded by a group of friends, in a gorgeous setting. Cuisine is mostly modern French, although the chef does mix it up with splashes of Indian or Thai flavorings.
- La Palme d'Or, Hôtel Martinez, 73 boulevard de la Croisette. Great location overlooking the bay of Cannes. Food is of an extremely high standard, the stylish and contemporary decor impresses, and the service is impeccable. Two Michelin stars have been awarded to this restaurant.
- Le Restaurant Arménien, 82 boulevard de la Croisette, ☏ . For genuine Armenian food served in a charming and atmospheric setting. Popular restaurant that also offers Mediterranean inspired alternatives.
- Authentic, 92, Ave Francis Tonner, Cannes La Bocca (traveling west from Cannes, pass the market in La Bocca & it's on your right, one block further.), ☏ . No view (location isn't great), but this resto itself is simple but lovely. Even better, the food. For a really wonderful meal at 30% or less of prices in Cannes itself, check out this great little secret. The meal always begins with a little complimentary tasting. Very popular at noon, so make a reservation during August for lunch or dinner. The chef is from Alsace, but uses local fare superbly, too. menus start under €20 for dinner.
- sombraro x-press, 25 rue suquet, ☏ . open all day+ night. wholesome Mexican food at a great price. menu includes light choices for watchful eaters cheap.
- Villa La Contemporaine de Cannes. Modern Cannes luxury villa rental located in the exclusive area of La Californie above Cannes.
- Citadines Croisette Cannes, 1, rue le Poussin, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. This 3-star establishment with an indoor garden and a solarium offers 58 flats in 2 wings of 3 and 5 floors, ranging from studios to one-bedroom apartments. From April to September, residents can have access to a private beach. All studios and apartments are fully air-conditioned and have a bathroom with separate toilet and a fully-equipped separate kitchen area. Some studios are equipped for people with reduced mobility.
- Hôtel Alnea, 20 rue Jean de Riouffe, ☏ . Comfortable hotel that has basic features, with satellite TV, telephone with internet connection and WiFi. Near the Palais des Festivals.
- Hôtel America Cannes, 13 rue Saint Honoré, ☏ . 28 rooms, including 4 junior suites, just behind the Majestic Hotel, at 200 ft from the Congress Centre. Very clean and comfortable. All rooms have flat-screen TV, high speed wireless internet connection. Laundry, wake-up call services, concierge services. No restaurant, only buffet breakfast or in-room breakfast.
- Palais Stephanie. Unique business & leisure property with 234 rooms including 47 suites, 16 meeting rooms and a 820-seat auditorium (formerly Noga Hilton).
- Claremont Hotel, 13 Rue Du Août. This quaint and charming hotel offers comfortable rooms for single or sharing occupancy. It provides breakfast, laundry and wakeup-call services, and transfers to and from the airport, and other towns along the Riviera.
- 3.14 hotel, 5 rue François Einessy, ☏ . Unique hotel with rooms designed from five continents, with each floor representing a continent, such as vibrant Asia or cultural Europe. All rooms have flat-screen TV, DVD player, broadband internet connection and WiFi access and the hotel even has its own private beach on La Croisette.
- Le Mistral, 13 rue des Belges. Modern boutique hotel with art works on display in each of the rooms. The rooms are soundproofed and air conditioned and feature free Wi-Fi access, cable TV and direct phones.
- Suitehotel Cannes Centre, 46 bis boulevard. Carnot. 10 minutes from the railway station, all rooms have separate bathrooms and toilets, a small kitchenette, large working spaces and flat screen TVs.</sleep>
- The InterContinental Carlton, 58 boulevard de la Croisette, ☏ . With its own private beach, the InterContinental offers guests comfort and convenience with two restaurants, two bars and a health club on site.
- Hotel Martinez, 73 boulevard de la Croisette, ☏ . The place where A-list celebrities like visiting presidents or royalty stay, the Hotel Martinez is one of the Riviera's grand dames, with its own private beach and pool, a spa and fitness center, grand apartments, suites and pretty rooms. It also plays host to the Michelin awarded restaurant, La Palme d'Or (see "Eat").
- Résidence Pierre & Vacances Cannes Beach (Cannes-La-Bocca shopping quarter). In the spirit of Cannes, the 7- to 8-floor residence is shaped like a “P” and spread out around a large patio with exotic vegetation. The apartments are equipped with terraces or balconies. It has a fitness room and a restaurant. If you get tired of your private beach (unlikely) then the public sand beach is a 50-m walk away.
- Croisette Beach Hotel, 13 rue du Canada, ☏ . Located in the Golden Square of Cannes, on a quiet street between the bustle of the Croisette and the luxury stores on the Rue d'Antibes. €110-210.
Check out Carrefour, most of them have free Wi-Fi.
If you fancy a change of scenery from Cannes or just want to make the most of its location then you can make a day trip to other beautiful and famous cities. A few to note are:
- Aix-en-Provence is 1½ hr west by car.
- Monaco is 45 min northeast by car.
- Nice is 30 min northeast by car.
- Saint-Tropez is 1¼ hr southwest by car.