Best Things To Do in Cannes
Glamorous Cannes is more about resting than doing. Although you can visit a few museums and see some pretty architecture, the main tourist attraction is enjoying life at a leisurely pace. Do this on the beaches, nearby islands, the cafés, the boutiques along Rue Meynadier and Rue d'Antibes, and the casinos.
Updated March 18, 2016
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On La Croisette, a mile-long promenade that skirts the shore, you can lookout on the sparkling Mediterranean and the rolling Estérel hills. You can also take in all the glamorous pedestrians, dressed in everything from designer apparel to skimpy bikinis and high heels.
A TripAdvisor user has this to say: “This is an interesting street to stroll, my son had a great time counting all the Ferrari's we passed. ... Definitely the place to go if you like people watching.”
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Some travelers find these four islands, just a 15-minute ferry ride away, more interesting than Cannes itself. The two most popular are Île Ste-Marguerite and Île St-Honorat. You can visit Île Ste-Marguerite for the beach; you can also tour the Fort de l'Ile (where the real-life Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned) or the Musée de la Mer, which holds artifacts from the sea. Or you can head to the smaller Île St-Honorat and meditate at the working monastery, the Abbaye de St-Honorat. If you want some peace and quiet in the great outdoors, you’ll surely find it in this island's forest groves and sandy beaches.
One TripAdvisor traveler loved these islands, especially Île St-Honorat, saying: “The beaches and bays are beautiful. Although there are many people visiting this island, you still can find peaceful, quiet places on this island. We found that the lagune and Dragon's point are the most beautiful surroundings on the island.”
- #3View all PhotosfreeRue Meynadier#3 in CannesShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
This rue (or road) is lined with charming 18th-century houses, which have been repurposed as boutiques, selling everything from trendy and (relatively inexpensive) clothing to wine and cheese. Recent travelers say the macaroons at L'Atelier Jean-Luc Pelé (at No. 36) are absolutely not to be missed.
One Virtual Tourist user says this about Rue Meynadier and the streets adjacent: “The pulse of Cannes lives on the back streets filled with shops and more restaurants to satisfy your every need. The fun is finding that one special gift for someone or that unusual find that will fit in nicely on your mantel or shelf back home.”
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Marché Forville (or Covered Market), located to the west of Rue Meynadier, is the city's most popular market. Open every day, you can purchase everything from fresh vegetables to pasta noodles. On Monday, however, the gourmand market turns into a flea market.
- #5View all Photos#5 in CannesMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Fodor's calls the tiny Musée de la Castre is “Cannes's token cultural attraction.” Constructed by 11th-century monks in the Gothic style, the little château is a piece of art in its own right. Inside, you'll find everything from African drums to Provençal Impressionist paintings. According to one TripAdvisor user: “In a world where most museums are turning into big cultural Disneylands, this old museum in Cannes offers a rare reprieve in time and space.”
Closed on Mondays, this museum is open year-round for a small fee.
- #6View all Photos#6 in CannesCasinos, Entertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCasinos, Entertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Established back in 1907, the Casino Croisette is France's most highly frequented casino. And its location — inside the Palais des Festivals, where much of the International Film Festival takes place — is an attraction itself. Also, it's a one-stop shop with a restaurant and the popular nightclub, Le Jimmyz Club; but remember to dress the part — men are required to wear jackets. For more information, visit the casino's website.
- #7View all PhotosfreeRue d'Antibes#7 in CannesShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
For high-end shopping, you'll want to head to Rue d'Antibes, a road that runs parallel to La Croisette but lies a few blocks inland. You'll find designers like MaxMara, Agnes B and Missoni among other shops that sell perfume and jewelry and pastries. If you don't want to buy, you don't have to: Window-shopping and people-watching are nearly as enjoyable as credit card-swiping, but without all that buyer's remorse.
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Although you might not think “camp” when you think “Cannes,” you can take a hike just 20 minutes away in the Massif de l'Estérel, a range of mountains formed from red-rock volcanoes. To get there, travel west along the N98 highway. Serious hikers can ascend the heights (2,000 feet at its highest point), but Concierge.com suggests that casual hikers might be better off sticking to the paths that trace the coast.
If you want to reach the top, Frommer's says, “To get to the massif's summit, Mont Vinaigre (elevation 589m/1,962 ft.), turn right at the Testannier crossroads 11km (7 miles) northeast of Fréjus.” There's a parking lot, and hikers can climb the rest of the way (about 15 minutes) to the summit for an amazing view of the Alps.
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Of course, Cannes's claim-to-fame these days is the film festival that swarms the city every spring. One of the oldest (1946) and most esteemed festivals, 20 "official selection" films are picked and then deliberated on by a jury, who will award the Palme d'Or (the Golden Palm) award to the best one. But don't misunderstand: the International Film Festival is a private one, frequented by actors, directors and the like — not the casual tourist. Fodor's says: "Cannes becomes virtually insane with more than 30,000 actors, producers, directors, and other accredited professionals of the seventh art, 3,500 journalists, and 200,000 tourists." If you're traveling to the area in May, you can expect to see large crowds and tents propped up on the beaches.
Although you can't watch the festival's films, you can watch a cache of classics at the Cinéma de la Plage, in which a movie screen is set-up on Mace Beach. You can get tickets through Cannes' Tourism Office. You might also spot a celeb or two; you'll just need to find strategic place outside of the Palais des Festivals and the Carlton InterContinental hotel. Just be prepared for hordes of others doing the same thing.
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