Written by Missy Johnston
Cannes, a lovely resort city on the French Riviera, and a port to visit on a yacht charter in France, is most well-known for its international film festival which resides in a building almost as famous, the Palais des Festivals et des Congres home to the red carpet, and outside, the Allee des Etoils, a footpath featuring 46 handprints of world celebrities pressed into the pavement. Close by is the Boulevard de la Croisette running along the coast, with sandy beaches on one side and upmarket boutiques, trendy restaurants, chic night clubs and luxury hotels on the other, all facing the sea. Often luxury yachts are chartered to be anchored off of the Palais des Festivals et des Congres for luxury entertaining during the International Film Festival. However, Cannes is also a terrific port of call for a crewed Mediterranean yacht charter on a private yacht cruising along the French Riviera.
Initially, it was the Lerins Islands, close by, that were the draw for various civilizations to call home, however as the Lerins islands were difficult to protect from raids by the Saracens and pirates, inhabitants of the islands moved to Cannes, where in 1035 a castle for its protection was constructed.
Before being named Cannes, the village was known as Le Suquet, and today the Old Town is called Le Suquet which is located at the western end of the Boulevard de la Croisette, right next to the Vieux Port. Wandering the cobble stone streets in Le Suquet, one can find a great choice of quaint local restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as a few of Cannes’ landmarks such as Forville Market, Musée de la Castre, and the Tour du Masque de Fer (The Man in the Iron Mask Tower).
The original inhabitants of Cannes sought the high ground, so Le Suquet is settled on a hill with stunning views of the port and the city, especially from the top of the tower. The Forville Market, or Marché Forville, a covered market encompassing 3000 square meters is next to Vieux Port, and right behind Cannes City Hall. This is the most famous market in Cannes, with stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meats and cheeses, and other local goods, especially those considered “of provence”. Established in 1934, on Mondays, the market stalls change hands with food purveyors changing to purveyors selling antiques and second hand items
Cannes is a vibrant city on the French Riviera, home to international business, and large luxurious hotels for those wanting to relax at the seaside; all clustered around Vieux Port, the main harbor now filled with luxury yachts with a few fishing boats sprinkled in. Upscale shops, restaurants, and nightclubs support the clientele that the hotels draw and besides the Film Festival, the Palais des Festivals hosts events and conventions throughout the year. Along the quay in the main port and along La Croisette, artists can be found painting al fresco, taking advantage of the fine natural lighting found along the Cote d’Azur.
What to See and Do in Cannes, France
The Promenade de la Croisette: Stretching for two kilometers, this waterfront boulevard is lined with palm trees. La Croisette fronts the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by a splendid beach on one side and by luxury hotels, boutiques and restaurants on the other side with benches placed at intervals for people to simply sit and relax. La Croisette is a great people-watching spot, especially during Cannes Film Festival, as action happens along the boulevard from morning until night.
The Castre Museum: Located on one of the highest points of land in Le Suquet, in the remains of a medieval castle built by the Lérins monks, the Castre museum overlooks the La Croisette, the Mediterranean Sea and the Lérins islands. Within is a prestigious if somewhat eclectic collection of primitive arts of the Himalayas including Tibet, pre-Columbian America and Mediterranean antiques, musical and paintings.
Le Suquet: Wander the little walking streets of Old Town for restaurants, bars, and great shopping. Also, in Old Town are Forville Market, Musee de la Castre and the Tour de Masque de Fer (Tower of the Man in the Iron Mask). On the highest point of land in le Suquet are located Cannes’ medieval castle, within which is the Castre Museum, and the 17th-century Église Notre-Dame de l’Esperance.
Rue d’Antibes: Running parallel to La Croisette, this street is also a famed shopping street in Cannes for same type of goods as are sold in shops located on La Croisette; however, shops are slightly less upscale than on La Croisette for goods that are in a better price range.
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès: The Palais is a convention and cultural center most well-known as the home of the International Film Festival that occurs each May. However other events also take place here, such as musicals, theatre and dance performances.
Vieux Port: The main harbor in Cannes, filled mostly with small leisure boats belonging to locals, luxury yachts, and a few fishing boats, the large quay has cafes, shops, restaurants and bars, and is a relaxing location to wander.
Le Croisette Casino Barrière: Besides Monte Carlo, Cannes also has a casino that has slot machines, English roulette, baccarat and poker. Located in a corner of the Palais des Festivals, the casino interior has an upscale feel. Besides gambling, one can dine, enjoy a drink, and on occasion enjoy a musical or cabaret show. A passport is required to be shown for entrance.
Musee Bonnard: Within are the works of the neo-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947) whose work is easily recognizable by the intense, vivacious colors used by the artist.
La Malmaison: An art museum housed in a restored Belle-Epoque Villa featuring changing exhibits of solo artists from private and public collections.
Musée International de la Parfumerie: Located nearby in the center of perfume making in Grasse, France, this fragrance museum includes exhibits highlighting the history and manufacturing of perfume through the ages. Established in 1989, the museum has information on perfume, soaps, makeup and other products from the last 4,000 years.
Stop in Cannes to see the highlights, shop, and for chic nightlife on a French Riviera yacht charter.