14 must-do things to do in Cannes

Visiter Cannes

Weekend or vacation on the Côte d’Azur? Stop off and visit Cannes! The Croisette is waiting for you!

Cannes has been synonymous with the world of cinema since 1946. In fact, it’s mainly thanks to its film festival that the town is now world-famous.

But there’s much more to Cannes than walking the legendary red carpet at a glamorous party. In the shadow of the glitterati and paparazzi, Cannes has retained its authentic Provencal charm. So let’s take a close-up look at the 14 must-sees when visiting Cannes!

1. Le Suquet

Visiter Cannes : vue du Suquet

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Kiev.Victor

« Suquet » means « summit » in Provençal, and the name is no coincidence! Indeed, the oldest district of Cannes is located on Mont-Chevalier. From here, the view over the bay and inland is breathtaking. The panorama begins at Quai Saint-Pierre and extends all the way to the Vieux Port.

This shady district provides much-needed coolness on hot summer days. Venture into the narrow, steep streets of the old town. Climb up to the Notre-Dame d’Espérance church and admire the city’s most cinematic panorama.

2. The Croisette promenade

Visiter Cannes et ses balader sur la Croisette

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Veniamin Kraskov

Indissociable from Cannes’ identity, the Boulevard de la Croisette forms a long promenade lined with palm and pine trees. Reminiscent of Nice‘s Promenade des Anglais. This sophisticated venue elegantly links the beach and the city. While on one side are the sandy beaches, on the other are numerous luxury brands, as well as grand hotels and palaces.

You can’t visit Cannes without strolling along the Croisette. This legendary promenade runs for three kilometers along the bay of Cannes. Under the warm sun of southern France, it forms a picture-postcard landscape.

3. The old port

Le vieux port de Cannes

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At the foot of Mont Chevalier lies the Vieux Port de Cannes and Quai Saint-Pierre. Now an emblematic site, they retrace the history of Cannes, once a fishing village.

Bordering an idyllic waterfront, the Vieux Port enjoys a privileged location. Originally, it was used exclusively for trade and passenger transport.

But as it has grown over the years, it has now become a marina for prestigious sailing ships. To get the most out of your visit to Cannes, take a detour to admire one of the oldest ports on the Côte d’Azur.

4. A boat trip

Louer un bateau à Cannes

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If you’re visiting the Mediterranean coast, there’s one thing you won’t want to miss: boat trips!

In fact, Cannes offers some very attractive boat trips, such as the one to the Corniche d’Or between Saint-Raphaël and Cannes, which takes in the calanques and guarantees a thrilling spectacle.

So it would be a shame not to rent a boat in Cannes, and miss out on this splendid setting.

5. Cannes’ beaches

Visiter Cannes et ses plages

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All in all, the Cannes coastline boasts almost 8km of beaches. That’s why you can’t visit Cannes without taking the time to swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

The best-known of Cannes’ fine sandy beaches are those along the Croisette. But if you’re looking for a quiet spot to swim, the beaches around the Pointe de la Croisette or those along the Boulevard du Midi, west of Le Suquet, are more to your liking.

6. The Lérins Islands

Les Iles de Lérin

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Opposite the Vieux Port are the Îles de Lérins, a must-see when visiting Cannes. Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat are two unique jewels of natural and cultural heritage.

Sainte-Marguerite Island

Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the Lérins Islands. It offers an idyllic setting, between coves and pine and eucalyptus forests. Welcome to a hiker’s paradise! The island boasts over 22 km of trails, all offering unique landscapes.

The island of Sainte-Marguerite also boasts a rich historical heritage, including archaeological remains and its Fort Royal. If you want to visit Cannes in depth, don’t forget to stop off at the Îles de Lérins!

Saint-Honorat Island

Separated from Île Sainte-Marguerite by just 600 meters of sea, Île Saint-Honorat also boasts a rich historical past. The Abbey of the Lérins monks, as well as the remains of a fortified monastery and numerous chapels, make the island an ideal destination for meditation.

Saint-Honorat is 1,500 meters long and ideal for exploring on foot. It’s wooded with umbrella and maritime pines, and offers lovely views. Whether you’re a visitor in search of spirituality or a lover of authentic sites, come and discover these treasures of the Côte d’Azur!

7. Cannes and cinema

Le Festival de Cannes

Photo credit: Shutterstock – JHVEPhoto

Since 1939, Cannes has been the city of cinema. Today, the Cannes Film Festival is a name with worldwide resonance. A visit to the Palais des Festivals, with its mythical steps and famous red carpet, is a must when visiting Cannes.

But it’s not only in May, during the Festival, that you can enjoy the cinema. All year round, Cannes pays homage to the cinema with gigantic frescoes depicting the biggest stars and the best memories of the silver screen. So take a stroll around town in search of Charlie Chaplin or Marilyn Monroe!

8. Le Chemin des étoiles

Visiter Cannes : le Chemin des étoiles

Photo credit: Facebook – Cannes is Yours

Make no mistake, you’re not in the USA on the famous Walk of Fame! No, you’re visiting Cannes. As in Los Angeles, the Cannes Walk of Stars pays tribute to the directors, actors and other celebrities of the 7th Art who have left their mark on history.

Here you’ll find casts of the hands and signatures of over 300 personalities who have left their mark on the city’s history. Come and discover these fantastic slabs lining the forecourt of the Palais des Festivals, and stroll along the esplanade Georges Pompidou and its gardens. The Chemin des étoiles gives you the chance to touch the hand of your favorite actor!

9. Luxury hotels

hotels de luxe

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To visit Cannes is to combine culture, heritage and the French art of living. The city offers a wide range of hotels, with six five-star hotels and over 100 two- to four-star establishments. The majority are located along the famous Croisette with its private beaches. Even if you don’t want to stay here, it’s well worth a look!

10. Casinos

casino

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Since the early 20th century, Cannes has been Europe’s gaming capital. Between Black Jack, Poker and Roulette, Cannes is the only city in France to host three casinos. As prestigious as the city itself, each establishment cultivates refinement and elegance to welcome gamblers from all over the world.

11. Cannes museums

Visiter Cannes et ses musées

Photo credit: Shutterstock -Nadezda Murmakova

Cannes’ cultural heritage is rich and varied. Take the time to enjoy it to the full, by visiting the Musée de la mer or the Musée de la Castre, for example.

The sea museum

If you’re visiting the island of Sainte-Marguerite, don’t forget to visit the Musée de la Mer. It occupies the oldest part of Fort Royal, a listed historic monument. Here you’ll discover a wealth of underwater archaeological material from wrecks found around the Lérins Islands, as well as fragments of Roman frescoes and the cell of the former state prison!

The Castre museum and its square tower

The Musée de la Castre is located in the hills above Cannes, at the summit of Le Suquet. Housed in the medieval château, it comprises the Chapelle Sainte-Anne and the Tour de la Castre. Both are classified as historical monuments.

The museum boasts a rich collection of primitive art and Mediterranean antiques. It is also renowned for its musical instruments from all over the world.

La Malmaison

La Malmaison is a cultural space where major contemporary art exhibitions are held every year. It is the only remaining pavilion of the Grand Hôtel in Cannes, built in 1863 by architects Vianey and Blondel. This prestigious venue is located on the Croisette.

Also read on the Cannes guide :

12. Forville market

marché

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Michael Mulkens

The Forville market is a must when visiting Cannes! Seasonal produce, local fish and flowers are all on offer. This large indoor market is located in the heart of Cannes and is open every morning, except Mondays, when it’s a flea market.

The Forville market is a real invitation to a gourmet trip to Provence. You can also discover the many shops and terraces that surround it. Go there to enjoy the general atmosphere, but also to sample some of the local specialties. Socca and panisses are sure to please!

13. La Croix des Gardes

Croix des Gardes

Photo credit: Flickr – luerna

Visiting Cannes also means enjoying the greenery. Cannes’ natural heritage is as rich and enchanting as its history. So to appreciate all the beauty of the city’s landscape, head to the Croix des Gardes for a pleasant stroll to the sound of cicadas.

Less than a kilometer from the city center, the Croix des Gardes is located on a hill overlooking the city behind the Suquet district. This sensitive natural area has been dubbed the « green lung » of Cannes. Indeed, the large Croix des Gardes forest park is a unique reserve for Provençal flora and fauna.

14. Villa Rothschild

Villa Rothschild

Photo credit: Flickr – plb06

The Villa Rothschild is located in the Croix des Gardes district. It was built in 1881 for Baroness de Rothschild. This magnificent villa and its grounds are both listed as Monuments Historiques. So, if you’re visiting Cannes, this is a place not to be missed.

From its neo-classical style to its English-style gardens, this quintessentially romantic place is a remarkable example of resort architecture on the Côte d’Azur. In 1947, the villa was confiscated from its owners during the Occupation. It became the property of the town, which installed the Médiathèque municipale Noailles and hosted a number of cultural events.

How to get to Cannes

There are many ways to get to Cannes:

By plane

If you’reflying to Cannes, you have several options:

  • The first is Cannes-Mandelieu airport, just 15 minutes from the city center.
  • Alternatively, choose Nice-Côte d’Azur international airport. As France’s second-largest airport, you’ll easily find a flight to suit you.

To help you in your search, a flight comparator can prove useful.

By train

It’s perfectly possible to visit Cannes by train. Indeed, the city is well served by the TGV, which connects it to all French regions as well as to Europe’s major cities. This mode of transport allows you to discover spectacular landscapes from the seaside to the foot of the Estérel massif.

By car

Finally, to visit Cannes by car, take « La Provençale », theA8 freeway. Take exit 41 towards Cannes-La Bocca, or exit 42 towards Mougins/Cannes if you’re coming from Aix-en-Provence.

Where to stay in Cannes?

From grand hotels to Airbnb, the city offers many alternatives. A vast choice of hotels is available to you. A hotel comparator may be able to help you.

Alternatively, for prices that are generally more affordable, you can rent an Airbnb apartment in the center of town as well as in the surrounding area. Choose Antibes or Saint-Tropez for the closest accommodation. Or opt for Nice, the department’s capital. A little further along the Côte d’Azur, sleep in Menton or Monaco!

Wherever you live, now that you know all the secrets of visiting Cannes, you’re sure to have a wonderful time!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Cannes,fr