When people think of Cannes, they think of celebrities, their luxury lifestyles, film festivals, and yachts, but the real Cannes is undoubtedly more than that. Cannes' resorts and ports often get the most media coverage, but its real identity belongs to the old cobblestone alleyways, the sidewalk cafes that will surprise you in unexpected corners, and all the little details not shown by glamorous magazine photos of what an outsider thinks Cannes should look like.
Allow us the honor to show you Cannes beyond the rose-colored lenses and realize that the imagined is far less wondrous than the real charm of this authentic French town.
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Before Cannes was Cannes, home of the rich and famous, it was a sleepy fishing village, which was frequented by privateers, pirates, and basically anyone else who shared a mutual love for the sea. That all changed, however, when Cannes' sweeping coasts and stunning hillsides were noticed by an English baron, Henry Brougham, who consequently built a villa in Croix des Gardes. Talk of Cannes' beauty spread like wildfire, and other English nobility later followed suit, planting their opulent homes, mansions and estates all over Cannes.
Much of Cannes' affluent appeal are leftovers of this era, but if you are interested in getting to know how Cannes was like before it became synonymous with wealth and fame, Le Suquet's cobbled streets and old-century homes will tell you an intimate story.
Situated west of Cannes, Le Suquet is known as the 'Old Town' and it still houses much of Cannes' original settlements. With Rue Sainte-Antoine as your starting point, go uphill to see the modest, preserved homes of many of Cannes' pioneers, most of whom were fishermen.
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Much of Cannes' soul exists in Le Suquet, so it's not surprising to find yourself in the midst of a fete or a festival as you pass through the town; however, if you are coming during the summertime-- in July, to be exact, a popular musical takes the center stage in this side of the city. At 1 Place de la Castre, locals organize the Suquet Musical Nights, which is a night of live music, art, and fanfare. The musical is a main summertime event, which takes place on the grounds of Notre-Dame d’Espérance (and has for the past 40 years).
Many consider it a romantic evening, others would call it a great treat for families. Perhaps it's safe to say the the Suquet Musical Nights is simply be suitable for everyone.
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Cannes has been inhabited since the 2nd century BC, where it served as a fishing port owned by the ancient Liguria tribe, so it's not surprising to find remnants of a time forgotten in this region. One interesting destination which is still frequented by natives and tourists alike-- and therefore, which you shouldn't miss-- is the 12th century tower that crowns Musée de la Castre.
The museum itself is a sight to behold, and definitely a destination you shouldn't skip, but the tower is a unique asset that keeps on giving. For starters, this spot gives you a commanding view of the city, and is also perfect for taking your aerial photos from. Enjoy 360-degree views from this iconic location.
Take note that entry into the museum are paid, and the schedules may vary depending on the season, so it's best to check the Cannes' tourism website before going.
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Every year, Cannes hosts hundreds, if not thousands of artistic personalities (thespians, directors, producers, included) for the prominent Festival de Cannes, or the Cannes Film Festival. Since its inception, the festival has always taken place in one iconic landmark: Palais des Festivales.
Getting to the venue when the festival is in full swing is nearly impossible, unless if you were invited, so if you have always wanted to take your very own Hollywood-esque photo on the steps of the convention center, you may, anytime throughout the year. You may see the interior of the Grand Auditorium through a guided tour group, but you may also opt to simply linger at the carpeted staircase entrance of the building for a photoshoot.
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Although five-star restaurants abound all over Cannes, sometimes, the locals hit the local wet market for their daily necessities. Unlike other markets, however, Marché Forville not only covers basic necessities, it also welcomes merchants and growers from other regions of France, where they sell their regional and seasonal produce at reasonable rates. For the real French farm-to-table experience, the best place where you can find the freshest of herbs and greens is here, at Marché Forville.
Marché Forville looks just like the usual market, but when you come at the right months, you could bag fresh regional herbs from Provence other nearby regions.
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While Marché Forville showcases much of Cannes' traditional and modest beginnings, the glitzy paths of La Croisette shows the opposite. Today, Cannes has become the preferred getaway destination of celebrities, artists, politicians, entrepreneurs, and other influential people. Surprisingly, it's not hard to find them in this city when you visit at the right season. One popular promenade that attracts the rich and famous is La Croisette.
Apart from being a popular tourist spot, La Croisette is also home to many luxury brands' Cannes branches. Towards Rue d'Antibes and Boulevard La Croisette, you may find Chanel beside Chopard, which sits beside Rolex, and several other luxury fashion shops.
Overall, this is a quaint, luxurious place that has most European brand names you can think of. If you're ready to indulge yourself, head down to these two ritzy streets.
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There are two reasons why Chapelle Bellini should find its way into your to-do list. For starters, Chapelle Bellini is housed in a Florentine villa built in the 1890's by an Italian count. That alone suggests that this place is opulent, an absolute eye candy, and a beautiful space that stands out in Cannes. Another great reason is that every nook and cranny of this work- and showroom exudes with artistry.
In 1953, the Monegasque artist Emmanuel Bellini purchased this property and made it his atelier. Dubbed as the Bellini Chapel in English, the museum now showcases most of the artists' work. You can find the museum at Parc Fiorentina - 67 bis, Avenue de Vallauris, Cannes, but take note: it is only open 3 hours a day. Admission is free, but come early, because this museum attracts artistic souls from far and wide.
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The Old Port, or Vieux Port, is one of Cannes' most iconic landmarks. It is often plastered in Cannes postcards, but has also made its way into movies, shows, and paintings with this former fishing village as the subject.
If you want to understand what Cannes is all about, all it takes is one good look at the Old Port. Here, you can find yachts, boats, and other marine vehicle moored by the pier. This crowd of luxury yachts and decades-old vessels describes Cannes' perfectly: it is a place of opulence, art, beauty, and most importantly, adventure.
That being said, if you want to explore Cannes' azure seas, you can rent a yacht here.
Aside from being a landing dock for sailboats, Vieux Port is also the first stop of the Royal Regatta.
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With its temperate climate, Cannes' coasts are abundantly lined with beaches, both public and exclusive. Some of the most visited beaches are situated in Boulevard de la Croisette, such as the Macé Beach and Zamenhof. You can also find Plage de la Casino here, and La Bocca Beach, among others.
But of course, Cannes' will never lose its luxurious options. As a prominent resort destination, it is believed that Cannes has more private beaches than public ones, but don't let this disappoint you. Exclusive beaches in Cannes are often well-serviced and boast top-of-the-line amenities. One of Cannes' most popular private beaches is Midi Plage, which boasts a restaurant by the sea.
There are countless of reasons why Cannes has long been hailed as a jewel in the French Riviera. Like a genuine, priceless gem, there are new surprising sides to Cannes in every curb, around every bend. To see Cannes with new eyes, momentarily forget magazines say about it, and put on your best walking shoes, because there's absolutely so much to explore in this cozy, French city.
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With the infamous Cannes Film Festival being the most talked about celebration in town, many are drawn to think Cannes is only all about the abstract. As you have already seen, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially taking into consideration that Cannes is itself not the only globally-celebrated festival in Cannes.
The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, for example, is one of the largest media, communications, and advertising gatherings in the world, with numerous events happening at the span of seven days. The biggest names in the industry gather together to talk about the latest trends and issues of the media world - perhaps one of the most influential gathering of influencers to date.
Another well-known festival in Cannes is the yearly Yachting Festival reputed to be Europe’s leading in-water boat show. The celebration features a wide variety of watercrafts from sail boats to multihulls.
One day will not suffice to fully appreciate the breathtaking magnificence of this French town. If your goal is to have a good time, visit for a week - or more - and take time to savor the whole experience. Of course, your stay would be even better if you’re in a setting that is just as comfortable as home.
Stay in a serviced apartment or private villa where your need for comfort, privacy, and safety are secured, all with the luxury you deserve. Like this sunny 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom vacation rental in Oia with a perfect sea view.