Destinations

10 glamorous things to do in the French Riviera city

There's so much more to Cannes, France, than the world-famous film festivalThere’s so much more to Cannes, France, than the world-famous film festival — Photo courtesy of bwzenith / iStock Via Getty Images

Beyond the glitz and glam of the famed international film festival, Cannes is filled with breathtaking beauty, charm, culture, stunning sites, and Provençal food.

Part of the French Riviera, the 120-mile stretch of coastline celebrated for its beauty, Cannes and nearby cities (like Nice) gained popularity in the 19th century when British aristocracy flocked for the weather and gorgeous waters, earning its Côte d’Azur moniker. Those same colors captivated artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Renoir.

Today, the coastal city is known for its role in world-famous cinema during the annual Cannes Film Festival, especially for the celebrities walking the red carpet. While still a magnet for the rich and famous, it’s a beautiful town to visit any time of year. Here are 10 things to do in Cannes, France, from strolling famous boulevards to hopping a boat to Riviera islands.

Stroll the famous Boulevard de la Croisette

La Croisette is the most glamorous promenade in Cannes, FranceLa Croisette is the most glamorous promenade in Cannes, France — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the famous 2-mile waterfront promenade, considered the beating heart of Cannes. Lined with palm trees, iconic hotels, luxury boutiques, and coastline, La Croisette is the gateway to famous beaches like Plage Mace, Plage du Casino, Croisette Beach, and the chic Baoli Beach. It’s also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Cannes Film Festival takes place.

Take a seat for people-watching or enjoy the parade of luxury sports cars that line the boulevard. Discover play areas for children, a small funfair, and a free summer music concert series. And don’t miss the exclusive Pierre Canto Marina, where A-list stars anchor during the film festival, and the smaller Port de la Pointe Croisette, a marina for sailing boats.

Take a tour of Cannes with a screenwriter

Film history can be seen and felt throughout all of CannesFilm history can be seen and felt throughout all of Cannes — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Embark on a captivating small-group tour of Cannes led by a screenwriter and historical researcher. Get fully immersed in the city’s rich film history, and see how it transforms annually into an international film hub.

Explore local markets, charming cobblestone streets, and iconic landmarks like the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, which is as dramatic as the films it celebrates. Discover hidden gems all the while listening to insightful commentary from an in-the-know film expert that brings the city to life. Book here through Access Travel.

Pose on the red carpet

One of the world's most famous red carpets in Cannes, FranceOne of the world’s most famous red carpets in Cannes, France — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Go on! Everyone does it. Having your moment on the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is probably one of the most Cannes things to do. Even when the film festival isn’t happening — this has been its home for more than four decades — the energy of it lives on all year long. The red carpet remains rolled out, which makes it fun for the rest of us.

Explore the historic Le Suquet

The quaint streets of the old town in Cannes is a great place to get lostThe quaint streets of the old town in Cannes is a great place to get lost — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Lose yourself in the charming cobblestone streets of Le Suquet, the historic old town of Cannes. Perched on a hill overlooking the majestic French Riviera, the impressive medieval architecture, and stunning city views will take your breath away.

Begin your journey with a visit to the Musée des Explorations du Monde, or Museum of World Explorations (formerly the Musée de la Castre), and enjoy panoramic views from the tower. Wander through narrow streets, discover hidden gems, sip at cafes and wine bars, and indulge in Provençal cuisine at charming restaurants, especially renowned for fresh seafood.

Take a boat to Île Sainte-Marguerite

The tranquil beauty of the Lérins Islands is hard to beatThe tranquil beauty of the Lérins Islands is hard to beat — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Take a boat to Île Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the Lérins Islands just off the coast of Cannes. Enjoy leisurely walks on coastal paths, surrounded by lush landscapes and panoramic views, or relax on pristine beaches like Plage de la Convention or Plage de la Batterie. Both are perfect for swimming and picnics.

Sit along the waterfront and enjoy a local seafood feast, or delve into the island’s past with a visit to the 17th century Fort Royal with its Maritime Museum and mysterious Man in the Iron Mask cell. Île Sainte-Marguerite offers a serene retreat, blending history and natural charm for a memorable island escape.

Eat and shop your way through Forville Market

The vibrant Forville Market is fun to exploreThe vibrant Forville Market is fun to explore — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of Forville Market, a vibrant spot for fresh produce, flowers, and regional specialties. Right in the heart of the city, the open-air public market celebrates the best of Provençal flavors and colors.

This treasure trove for food lovers showcases local gastronomy with fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, spices, olives, fruits, and freshly baked goods. Savor a warm crepe or a baguette sandwich as you explore the stalls.

In addition to culinary delights, the market showcases handmade crafts and unique souvenirs. Engage with friendly vendors, learn about regional products, and bring home a piece of Cannes’ authentic charm.

Shop along Rue d’Antibes

Fashionistas should head to Cannes' Rue d'AntibesFashionistas should head to Cannes’ Rue d’Antibes — Photo courtesy of AbElena / iStock Via Getty Images

Feel the glamour and charm of Cannes while shopping along Rue d’Antibes, a bustling street with chic fashion stores, souvenir shops, and cafes. The street forms a district that seamlessly blends luxury shopping and local flair. All the big-name fashion houses (think Chanel, Louis Vuitton) are here, plus department stores like the famed French Galleries Lafayette, and artisan and boutique treasures.

In addition to the latest haute-couture trends, find elegant antique furniture and eclectic jewelry and accessories. Unquestionably catering to the rich and famous, you may find yourself rubbing elbows with celebrities and even minor nobility.

Visit the historic Lérins Abbey

The streets are filled with the rich historical beauty of CannesThe streets are filled with the rich historical beauty of Cannes — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Take a boat to the Île Saint-Honorat to visit the historic Lérins Abbey, a peaceful monastery with vineyards and olive groves. The island is a haven of tranquillity, with lush greenery and gardens with centuries-old cypress trees. With a rich history dating back to the 5th century, the island and abbey seamlessly combine spirituality and scenic landscapes.

Explore its well-preserved medieval architecture, cloister, and chapels, providing a glimpse into centuries of religious heritage. Tour the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and sip the distinctive wines produced by the monks.

Enjoy waterfront dining in Cannes

Indulge in the very best French produce in CannesIndulge in the very best French produce in Cannes — Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

There’s nothing like a summer night spent on the glittering beach promenade in Cannes. Indulge in the local Mediterranean cuisine at one of the many waterfront restaurants, savoring delicious seafood while surrounded by picturesque views.

At the Cannes Carlton Hotel, Riviera showcases local ingredients with elevated dishes. Celebrity and Michelin-starred chef Jean Imbert serves casual French food with flair at the legendary Hôtel Martinez. Admire views of the Lérins Islands from Palais Stéphanie Beach while enjoying Mediterranean cuisine with Japanese influences.

Stay at luxe hotels in Cannes, France

The iconic waterfront JW Marriott Cannes was once home to the film festivalThe iconic waterfront JW Marriott Cannes was once home to the film festival — Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Cannes

Right on the Promenade de la Croisette, the building that houses the JW Marriott Cannes was the site of the first Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, built in 1949 to host the Cannes Film Festival. It even hosted a couple of Eurovision Song Contests. Now it’s filled with luxury rooms and suites in an enviable beachfront location.

In a beautiful nod to its cinematic history, rooms feature the artwork of iconic film stars and views galore of either the sea, the city, or the lush verdant gardens. Dining is a feast for all the senses with Italian, French, and Japanese on offer, and bars from seafront to rooftop are the place to be and be seen. With an on-site casino, swimming pool, and beach club, the scene for a perfect stay in Cannes is set.

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