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Cannes

Cannes is pampered with the luxurious year-round climate that has made it one of the most popular resorts in Europe. Cannes was an important sentinel site for the monks who established themselves on Île St-Honorat in the Middle Ages. Its bay served as nothing more than a fishing port until in 1834 an English aristocrat, Lord Brougham, fell in love with the site during an emergency stopover with a sick daughter. He had a home built here and returned every winter for a sun cure—a ritual quickly picked up by his peers. Between the popularity of Le Train Blue transporting wealthy passengers from Calais, and the introduction in 1936 of France's first paid holidays, Cannes became the destination, a tasteful and expensive breeding ground for the upper-upscale.Cannes has been further glamorized by the ongoing success of its annual film festival, as famous as Hollywood's Academy Awards. About the closest many of us will get to feeling like a film star is a stroll here along La Croisette, the iconic promenade that gracefully curves the wave-washed sand coastline, peppered with chic restaurants and prestigious private beaches. This is precisely the sort of place for which the French invented the verb flâner (to dawdle, saunter): strewn with palm trees and poseurs, its fancy boutiques and status-symbol grand hotels—including the Carlton, the legendary backdrop to Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief —all vying for the custom of the Louis Vuitton set. This legend is, to many, the heart and soul of the Côte d'Azur.

Why cruise Cannes

Cannes is a popular stopover on a Mediterranean cruise and for good reason. Cruise passengers will see for themselves why the city has earned its glamorous and sophisticated reputation, as they’re confronted with a wealth of luxurious hotels, restaurants and exclusive beaches as soon as they disembark from their cruise ship. Most of the city’s attractions can be explored in day, or if you prefer, you can choose to venture further afield and enjoy a day trip to other popular French Riviera destinations such as Nice or Monaco.

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What to see and do in Cannes

Promenade de la Croisette

Stretching along the shore of the Mediterranean, this iconic beach-fringed promenade is the perfect place to enjoy a stroll and soak up the glamour of Cannes as soon as you disembark from your cruise ship. The promenade is dotted with some of the best luxury stores, from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, and hotels, including the iconic Carlton Hotel and Le Grand Hotel (the oldest in Cannes), as well as swanky restaurants and bars. Many of the beaches are private – such as the exclusive Port Pierre Canto where A-listers drop anchor during the film festival – but there are some public ones, including Plage Macé and Plage du Casino.

Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes France

Palais des Festivals

Movie buffs must pay a visit to the iconic venue of the Cannes Film Festival, located next to the main tourist office. A popular walking tour, ‘A step in the city of Cinema’, provides a fascinating insight into how the quaint fishing village of Cannes transformed into a glamorous, cosmopolitan city that’s today synonymous with cinema. Lasting two hours, you will visit some of Cannes’ most important spots, including the Palais des Festivals, the Notre-Dame d'Espérance, the March Forville market and Le Suquet.

Lérins Islands

One of the most popular excursions in Cannes is a trip to the Lérins Islands, which can be reached by boat from the port. The Island of Sainte-Honorat features an abbey where the Cistercian monks in residence – who once owned most of Cannes – continue to make the local wine under a vow of silence. Meanwhile, Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the islands off the coast of Cannes, is home to the Fort Royal, where the Man in the Iron Mask was famously imprisoned in the 17th century.

Lérins Islands Sainte Marguerite island French Riviera France

Le Suquet

Avoid the crowds of the promenade and head straight to Le Suquet. The Roman settlement above the city is the oldest area in Cannes and is a charming place to stroll around, all winding streets filled with 18th and 19th century buildings and family-run restaurants that offer a more authentic taste of the French Riviera.

Musée de la Castre

Those in the mood for some culture should head to Musée de la Castre. Situated in a medieval castle atop Le Suquet, the museum houses a vast and extensive collection of antiquities, particularly from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The castle’s position high above the city also provides spectacular views of Cannes and beyond.

Need to know when travelling to Cannes

Getting around in Cannes

A few smaller cruise ships can dock harbourside, but the majority of ships must anchor and tender. The tender bays are located very close to town next to a busy square filled with cafés and restaurants. From here it’s just a short stroll to the marina and the majority of Cannes’ attractions can be reached on foot. You will need to take a boat to get to the Lérins Islands, which depart from the harbour by the cruise terminal. You can also take the petit train around Cannes, which follows the footsteps of the biggest stars of world cinema, visiting the city’s most exclusive locations.

When to go to Cannes

Things really start to hot up in from May, with visitors descending upon the city for the film festival. The Cannes Yachting Festival is another popular event, which runs every September. To avoid the crowds and hottest temperatures, visit during the spring (with the exception of May when the festival’s on) and autumn months.

Currency

Cannes uses the euro. If you want a taste of the high life, then Cannes can become a very expensive place to visit, but the city also caters to the more budget-conscious with plenty of reasonably priced establishments on offer.

Visas

British citizens will not need a visa to enter France.