What are the five best things to see and do in Cannes?

Hayley Bosch

While you may think that this resort town is all about basking in the sun, Cannes has much more to offer. Of course, the beach is a big part of life in this French Riviera destination; but you can also dive into history. To help you narrow down your options, here are some great things to see and do in Cannes:

1. Shop ‘til you drop. Cannes is one of the best shopping destinations in the world. Along the beachfront La Croisette, designer outposts (think Chanel, Céline, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and Louis Vuitton) line way for nearly two miles. Parallel to La Croisette is Rue d’Antibes, where you’ll find well-known brands like Sephora, Zara and Petit Bateau.

2. Soak up the sun. You’ll want to book a few lounge chairs in advance because there aren’t many public beaches in Cannes. But with the price of the plush chair comes delightful food and drinks. You can do everything from renting paddleboats to taking waterskiing lessons.

3. Attend the film festival. Each May, stars fill the streets of the resort town for the Cannes Film Festival. While you’ll have to get tickets far in advance for the actual screenings — and know someone in the business — you can catch free screenings of films that didn’t quite make the festival. Cannes fills with a glamorous aura (even more so than usual) and feels as if the whole city is famous.

4. Rent a boat. Though I don’t expect you to captain it — you can hire a crew for that — boating on the Mediterranean is a must. Whether you sail over to St. Tropez or thrill yourself with some watersports, you don’t want to miss playing in the crystal clear water.

5. Dive into history. Behind all the glam and fashion lies a strong history dating back to the second century BC. Make your way to the neighborhood of Le Suquet and up to the castle, where you’ll find the beautiful church of Notre-Dame d’Esperance and a museum. Don’t forget your camera — this is one of the best views you’ll get of the entire coastal town.

  • On March 8, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the five best things to see and do in Cannes?

    While you may think that this resort town is all about basking in the sun, Cannes has much more to offer. Of course, the beach is a big part of life in this French Riviera destination; but you can also dive into history. To help you narrow down your options, here are some great things to see and do in Cannes:

    1. Shop ‘til you drop. Cannes is one of the best shopping destinations in the world. Along the beachfront La Croisette, designer outposts (think Chanel, Céline, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and Louis Vuitton) line way for nearly two miles. Parallel to La Croisette is Rue d’Antibes, where you’ll find well-known brands like Sephora, Zara and Petit Bateau.

    2. Soak up the sun. You’ll want to book a few lounge chairs in advance because there aren’t many public beaches in Cannes. But with the price of the plush chair comes delightful food and drinks. You can do everything from renting paddleboats to taking waterskiing lessons.

    3. Attend the film festival. Each May, stars fill the streets of the resort town for the Cannes Film Festival. While you’ll have to get tickets far in advance for the actual screenings — and know someone in the business — you can catch free screenings of films that didn’t quite make the festival. Cannes fills with a glamorous aura (even more so than usual) and feels as if the whole city is famous.

    4. Rent a boat. Though I don’t expect you to captain it — you can hire a crew for that — boating on the Mediterranean is a must. Whether you sail over to St. Tropez or thrill yourself with some watersports, you don’t want to miss playing in the crystal clear water.

    5. Dive into history. Behind all the glam and fashion lies a strong history dating back to the second century BC. Make your way to the neighborhood of Le Suquet and up to the castle, where you’ll find the beautiful church of Notre-Dame d’Esperance and a museum. Don’t forget your camera — this is one of the best views you’ll get of the entire coastal town.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    Is it possible for anyone to attend the film festival in Cannes?

    Films in competition at the festival are reserved for those bearing the coveted Cannes badge. However, there’s still much cinema to be enjoyed. Cinéma de la Plage screens films that are outside the competition or Cannes Classics on the beach across from the Majestic, and even offers comfy beach chairs and blankets. No tickets are required; just wait in line and grab a chair if you’re lucky. A picnic and good Provençale wine will make you feel part of the fabulous festival.

    Locate the tent next to the Miramar Hotel to pick up a free ticket to the Critics’ Week Films. Quantities are limited and entry is not guaranteed but getting in line one hour in advance should secure you an entry.

    Tickets for the Director’s Fortnight screenings can be purchased at the ticket booth near the JW Marriott. The line forms on the side street to the right of the hotel. The first screening of each film (all including subtitles in English) features a Q&A with the director and cast. Even with a ticket, line up early to get a seat.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    What is the best thing to bring home from Cannes?

    The top thing our Forbes Travel Guide editors like to bring home from Cannes is a food staple such as a jar of Provençale olives or a bottle of olive oil. Try Cannolive, an old-fashioned shop on the rue Vénizelos founded by the Raynaud family in 1880. Their olive tapenades (or "Provençal caviar") are delightful. Their gift shop also sells fabrics, porcelain and Provençal souvenirs.

    You’ll also want to shop the selection of perfumes at the city’s famed Bouteille on rue d'Antibes. This is the place to pick up a new signature scent. Filled with a vast selection, from boutique perfumers to global brands, shop assistants are happy to provide guidance and douse customers in a shower of scents.
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  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    What are the five best Cannes food experiences?

    You can have a variety of food experiences in Cannes, everything from over-the-top haute cuisine to perfect little mushrooms from the market. Here’s what our Forbes Travel Guide editors say are the five best food experiences in Cannes:
     
    1. Fill your straw bag (and your stomach) with fresh delights from the Marché Forville, the city’s largest covered outdoor market. It specializes in quality produce harvested by local farmers and is always bustling, especially on Saturday mornings. Highlights include specialty gourmet salt, charcuterie and gorgeous rare mushrooms.

    2. The monastery on l’Ile Saint Honorat, L’Abbaye de Lerins, is home to a wonderful restaurant run by the resident monks. Catch the ferry from the harbor to enjoy the unique setting and excellent food.  

    3. The French are renowned for their passionate devotion to chocolate. To discover why, head to Chez Bruno on rue Hoche where the best chocolates in the city have been prepared since 1929. While there, be sure to also sample some marrons glacés (candied chestnuts).

    4. Refreshments or lunch at ZPlage at the Hotel Martinez provides an unforgettable food experience all its own. White umbrellas dot the terrace and invite guests to sit back and bask in the sunshine while dining on summery dishes. The fabulous view is eclipsed only by the fabulous people-watching.

    5. For fantastically fresh seafood, go to Coquillages Brun on the rue Louis Blanc. Tuck into a bowl of steaming moules à la crème topped off with homemade crème brûlée. The convivial scene and bustling waiters keep it lively.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    Where is the best nightlife in Cannes?

    A young and pretty crowd descends upon Cannes for its hopping nightlife. When the sun sets, join the pack in the Carre d’Or neighborhood just off La Croisette. Nightclubs gathered on the rue Commandant Andre are predictably popular. Two famous clubs include the Palais Club and Disco Le Sept.

    In the mood to roll some dice? Cannes is home to several casinos where scions of industry and Russian princes rub shoulders over games of Black Jack. The city’s oldest casino, La Croisette Casino Barrière located in the Palais des Festivals still sets the standard. Le Palm Beach is also a popular, swank choice. Go dressed for the occasion and get ready to hit the ATM.

    Find something for everyone after dark at Da Da Da club, offering a unique mix of cabaret, live music and art events in a funky, contemporary setting.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    What is the best way to see Cannes in one day?

    If there’s one place that epitomizes the glamor and beauty of Cannes, it’s the Promenade de la Croisette. Any visit to Cannes must begin or end with a stroll along the city’s main boulevard, where you’ll find cafes, restaurants, designer boutiques and some of the city’s grandest hotels. 

    After soaking up the glamour of La Croisette, head up the hill into the old neighborhood of Le Suquet. Although hardly undiscovered, it’s quite a different feeling in the alleyways up from La Croisette. Wander the narrow, cobbled streets and stop in the cafes and gourmet food shops for a taste of everyday life in Cannes.

    Ready for sunset? Hit one of the private beaches for a Kir Royale and some relaxation after a day of touring and exploring. There’s definitely something magical about the beach in the late afternoon. If you’re staying for dinner, be sure to book ahead to dine at one of the city’s top restaurants. End your day in Cannes with a trip to one of its casinos or a simple stroll, depending on your mood.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    Where is the best shopping in Cannes?

    As one of France’s most glamorous destinations, Cannes offers plenty of upscale shopping. The city is full of designer boutiques, including Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, as well as Parisian favorites Vanessa Bruno and Maje. The high-end boutiques are on rue d’Antibes and along La Croisette. For smaller shops, head to the western end and rue Meynadier, which is full of charming little boutiques, gorgeous fine food shops and sweet cafes tucked inside the 18th century buildings. Shops stay open late to allow evening browsing but don’t go on Sunday when retailers are closed for business. For a fabulous selection of designers all under one roof, stop by Galeries Lafayette. The French department store has an outpost on rue du Maréchal-Foch near the train station, and offers everything from fabulous shoes to pret-a-porter and home accessories.

    Cannes is also home to one of France’s most renowned antique shows, Salon des Antiquaires de Cannes, held twice a year in July and December. In the Palais de Festivals on La Croisette, the shows include 18th- and early-19th-century merchandise. Shipping services are available.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Cannes?

    Cannes may seem like an adult playground, but there are plenty of things to do with the kids, too. Here are the five things our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend doing with the kids in Cannes:
     
    1. Build some sandcastles. When traveling with our kids, a day at the beach is about as good as it gets. Many of the private beaches, especially at the bigger hotels, offer great water activities like snorkeling, waterskiing and windsurfing. Some also offer dedicated programs for kids.

    2. See the dolphins. Located in Antibes, east of Cannes, is Marineland, the most popular destination for families on the Riviera. The SeaWorld of France is just a short 15-minute drive from Cannes. With live shows by dolphins, whales and seals and lots of marine life exhibitions, this is an all-day outing that the kids won’t soon forget.

    3. Visit the animals. Get up close and personal with some of the animal kingdom's strangest and most wonderful creatures at the Parc Zoologique de Frejus. Located just outside Cannes, the beloved park was designed for its animals to live in habitats that are as natural as possible.

    4. Take them to see a castle. At the top of the hill in Le Suquet is the historic Château de la Castre. The Musée de la Castre combines ethnic and primitive arts with fine art worthy of a world-class museum. Highlights include works by 19th and 20th century painters from Cannes and Provence. Kids will enjoy climbing the tower, where you'll find an amazing view of Cannes.

    5. Have some playtime. On the rare day in Cannes when the sun doesn’t shine and the kids need a place to burn off energy, head to Fun City Cannes, a vast indoor play space on the avenue Maurice Chevalier. It has climbers, ball pits, video games and much more. Parents should bring along a good book to keep busy while the little ones run wild.
  • On August 22, 2012
    Paige Bradley Frost answered the question: Paige Bradley Frost

    What are the five best things to see and do in Cannes?

    Take in the city’s attractions at a leisurely pace to make the most of your Cannes experience. Whether watching the beautiful people from a sunny café or strolling the famous Promenade de la Croisette, Cannes offers that rare combination of beach and glamour that makes it one of France’s most visited cities. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to see and do in Cannes:
     
    1. Stroll along the Promenade de la Croisette. On the city’s most famous street, you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the palm trees and beaches on one side and the world-class boutiques, hotels and restaurants on the other. It’s the place to get a true feel for this glitzy city by the bay. If you do only one thing in Cannes, hit La Croisette.
     
    2. Head to the beach. While much of the world lathers on the SPF, the French remain unabashed sun worshippers. Any summer visit to Cannes (the most popular time to go) would be incomplete without a visit to la plage. The shore is lined with private beaches that provide loungers, umbrellas and top-notch service. A public beach is also located near the pier.
     
    3. Catch the ferryboat out to the Îles de Lérins, two small islands located in the Bay of Cannes. Largely unspoiled, the islands offer quiet respite from the crowds of Cannes, a couple of nice restaurants and even a working monastery to tour on l’Ile Saint-Honorat.
     
    4. Take in a film. Come May, Cannes is taken over by the annual International Film Festival. The city may fill up with celebrities, but screenings of films can be seen by anyone. Movies in contention for the Palme d’Or are largely reserved for those with film and press credentials but plenty of other screenings make up the festival. Classic films are often shown outdoors on the beach at Plage Mace and tickets can be purchased through the tourism office.
     
    5. Discover the hidden parts of the city. Wind your way up the rue Suquet and find yourself in the city’s old town, the neighborhood known as Le Suquet. The laid-back, unassuming feel is worlds away from the yachts and buzz of Cannes proper and is the perfect way to get a flavor of the old city. Grab a seat at a café and explore the quaint shops before heading back down the hill toward the swaying palms and glittering Mediterranean.
  • On July 9, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in Cannes?

    Some of best places to eat in Cannes are at the restaurants located in the city’s grand hotels. Like everything in Cannes, quality comes with a high price tag, but in the case of its best restaurants, discerning clients will get what they pay for. Here’s where our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend dining while in Cannes:
     
    1. Located at the classic Hotel Martinez and named after the film festival’s top prize, La Palme d’Or is one of the most famous restaurants in Cannes. Chef Christian Sinicropi’s “Plaisirs” menu is a total delight.

    2. Le Park 45. Le Park 45 at Le Grand Hotel offers a dramatic, creative menu befitting the starry town. Young chef Sébastien Broda is earning raves for his creative cuisine and Park 45’s superb outdoor setting ensures his tables will always be booked. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance.

    3. Le Bistrot des Anges. Take the glitz (but not the quality) down a notch at Le Bistrot des Anges where chef Bruno Oger serves up nouveau cuisine with a distinctly Provençale feel. The chic, modern space features panoramic windows and both indoor and outdoor seating.

    4. Le Mantel. One of the great pleasures of life in France is the leisurely dejeuner (lunch). Le Mantel in the old town of Le Suquet offers the perfect spot for such indulgence in a setting that is both discreet and romantic. Go for top-notch service, a superior wine list and expert sommelier.

    5. Le Manoir. Although located on rue Saint-Antoine with many other restaurants, Le Manoir’s quality cuisine, impeccable service and warm ambiance sets it apart. French specialties like foie gras and magret de canard are sure to leave a lasting impression.
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