Best Things To Do in Cannes, French Riviera, France

On the Côte d’Azur in France, Cannes is definitely a place you have to visit. This city, famous for its film festival, will surprise you with its history and historic center on the side of a hill.

In addition, the port with luxury yachts, the promenade full of glamorous hotels, and haute couture boutiques will make your trip an unforgettable experience.

In this post, I’ll tell you all the places you must visit on your Cannes trip.

Le Suquet: Museum and Castle of the Castre

Le Suquet is the medieval district of Cannes. On the hillside, you can see the original settlement of the city. It is full of alleys created hundreds of years ago that wind through the hill.

When dining out in the evening, stroll down Rue Sainte-Antoine, which winds its way up the hill between old fishers’ houses.

Let your curiosity take over and climb the stairs slowly between ocher-painted walls and bougainvillea flowers until you reach the Place de la Castre.

You can rest in the garden next to Notre-Dame d’Espérance and see the port, the Palais des Festivals, and La Croisette’s arch below.

When you visit the Museum, you can take an ethnographic journey to the heart of ancient civilizations in Asia, Africa, the East, America, and Oceania.

Surprisingly, they have a room dedicated to the Inuit. And others to renowned painters of the 19th century. So without a doubt, it is worth paying a visit to this museum.

In addition, you will enjoy beautiful views of the port, the city, and the Mediterranean.

La Croisette

La Croisette is one of the most emblematic streets in France: without a doubt, it is an essential place in Cannes that you have to visit. Walk the seafront promenade for almost 3 kilometers.

This beautiful and elegant promenade is dotted with high-end designer boutiques, haute couture, palm trees, and casinos; it is here that you will find the most lavish hotels, many of which have their own private beaches.

You can pay for a sun lounger on one of the private beaches or sit on one of the public benches that you will find along La Croisette.

Palais des Festivals

The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is the main economic engine of the city.

And it is the home of the Cannes Film Festival, which has been photographed so many times that it has acquired a kind of universal recognition.

You can take a tour of the Great Auditorium, following in the footsteps of the most famous personalities in the world and where some milestones in the recent history of cinema have been produced.

Naturally, you’ll have the chance to walk the red carpet on the stairs leading to the Grand Auditorium along the Promenade de la Croisette.

If you don’t go during the days of the Cannes festival, you won’t find paparazzi around, but you can take a picture like a celebrity!

Vero Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

This year (2022), in mid-May, the 75th anniversary of the Cannes International Film Festival is celebrated. It is one of the most important media events in the world.

It attracts visitors and celebrities from all over the world who want to know who will be the winner of the famous Palme d’Or.

With this festival, moviegoers have the opportunity to discover cinema in another way. Since there are masterclasses, tributes, and exhibitions.

If you travel to Cannes on the festival’s dates, you will have the possibility to see celebrities. But, of course, make your reservations in advance, as it fills up quickly and prices go up.

Enjoy Cannes from the sky with this plane Ride

Marché Provencal Forville

The fully covered Forville Provençal market is open every morning in the summer (and from Tuesday to Sunday for the rest of the year).

This market is a place for encounters and discoveries; it is full of local products grown by horticulturists from the Cannes area. Not forgetting the fishers who stock the stalls with fresh produce caught in the Bay of Cannes.

It is an essential place to visit to taste the local delicacies and see how the locals live.

Address: Rue du marché Forville, Cannes.

READ: French Riviera in Winter, what to do?

Ile Sainte-Marguerite (Day Trip)

Opposite Cannes, away from the hustle and bustle of the Croisette, the Lérins Islands are a natural site of exceptional richness. To the south, the tiny island of Saint-Honorat is home to a community of monks and a sumptuous abbey lined with vineyards.

To the north, the imposing Île Sainte-Marguerite is famous for its fort, which is said to have housed the Man in the Iron Mask.

Both turn out to be essential destinations during your trip to the Côte d’Azur.

To get to these islands, you have to go by boat. The journey takes about 15 minutes, departing from Cannes. The ticket price per adult is around €15. There are special rates for children, large families, students, etc.

Another way to get to the island is by renting your own boat. Here prices vary depending on the ship you choose. But you can get one without a driver, for €200 for a full day.

One of my favorite activities is renting a kayak to go around the island. If not, you can walk it.

Sainte Marguerite Island is a paradise for lovers of hiking. There are 21 kilometers of trails to explore the island at your own pace.

Some of the essentials are:

  • The town and its magnificent fishers’ houses;
  • The Batéguier pond and its numerous species of migratory birds;
  • The Pointe du Dragon and the Pointe de la Convention
  • The Fort Royal, which houses the Museum of the Sea;
  • The communal cemetery and the Muslim cemetery;
  • The different viewpoints to see the Île Saint-Honorat, the Bay of Cannes, and the Estérel.

Ile Saint-Honorat

In an area of 40 hectares, you can alternate the pleasures of the sea and historical visits.

A sunny paradise, a jewel of greenery, freshness, and an oasis of silence. The island of Saint-Honorat is a private island belonging to the monks of the Abbey of Lérins.

Visit the island of Saint-Honorat and have an unforgettable day. The island is full of activities to please all types of travelers.

You will be able to walk around this wooded island along paths bordered by turquoise waters.

You can visit many monuments for free. The island of Saint-Honorat has five historical monuments that you have to visit:

  • the tower-monastery (first listed in 1840 in the Maritime Alps);
  • the chapel of Saint-Sauveur (1886);
  • the Chapel of the Trinity (1886);
  • Two Napoleonic ball ovens (1908).

Discover the wines of the Abbey of Lérins. The 8 hectares of the Saint Honorat vineyard are cultivated by the monks of the Abbey of Lerins. They make this wine in an ancestral way.

Discover its white wine made from the Clairette (Saint Pierre), Chardonnay (Saint Césaire), and Viognier (Saint Cyprien) grape varieties, as well as red wines made from Syrah (Saint Honorat & Saint Sauveur), Mourvèdre (Saint-Lambert) and Pinot Noir (San Salonio).

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l’Esperance

The construction of the Notre-Dame d’Espérance church dates back to the beginning of the 16th century. It is a catholic church in Cannes.

The population of Cannes increased to such an extent that the church of Notre-Dame du Puy (Romanesque chapel, place de la Castre) could not accommodate all the faithful.

In addition, this church had significant drawbacks: it also served as the castle chapel, forcing the faithful to pray under the gaze of the Lord, who had a platform reserved for him.

The defensive function of this chapel was an obstacle to parish life.

The church is in the Gothic style, the porch is in the Renaissance style, and it has a Romanesque style bell tower. Without a doubt, an essential place to visit on your visit to Cannes.

Villa Domergue

Formerly villa Fiesole. Built in 1934 on land purchased by Jean-Gabriel Domergue, the architecture of the villa and gardens are heavily influenced by the Italian style.

Painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue designs the building and décor down to the finest detail, while his wife, a sculptor, creates the terraced gardens, complete with ponds and waterfalls.

Jean-Gabriel Domergue died in 1962, and Odette Maudrange-Domergue bequeathed the property to the city of Cannes in 1973.

This magical place is open to the public during temporary exhibitions or prestigious events that usually take place in the summer.

This house has been listed in the inventory of historical monuments since 1990.

Luxury shopping in Cannes

They take luxury in Cannes so seriously that they even have a festival called “Cannes Shopping Festival.”

This small town has the best and most prestigious haute couture boutiques. So if you feel like doing a bit of shopping, here are the best places in Cannes to do it.

  • La Croisette
  • Rue D’Antibes
  • Rue Hoche
  • Rue Meynadier
  • Forville Market
  • Gambetta Market
  • Galleries Lafayette


Outfit Planner

EXTRA TIP: plan what you will wear in advance so you take everything you need and do not have to make extra expenses at the destination. You can download the PDF here; the price is up to you!

Rue d’Antibes

The Rue d’Antibes runs parallel to the Croisette and is a mix of family-run designers, cafes, super chic decor shops, and haute couture. You can spend the whole day going from one boutique to another without getting bored.

Painted Walls

Discover an authentic open-air museum strolling down an avenue, a street, or a square. Inspired by the Seventh Art and the very essence of the Cannes Film Festival, these painted walls portray cinema’s main stars and scenes.

Revel in the surprise of coming face to face with Buster Keaton, Marilyn Monroe, or Alain Delon.

A different way to explore the architectural heritage of Cannes. Click on the link; you will find all the paintings in Cannes and a map to make the route on your own.

Cap d’Antibes Coastal Path

It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and popular trails on the Côte d’Azur. Located less than thirty minutes from Cannes.

Here, in Cap d’Antibes, the most sumptuous villas of the planet’s billionaires are concentrated. Hidden in lush vegetation and highly protected, you can only catch a glimpse of them when you see an open gate.

The walk is not challenging, and as I said, the path is very well laid out. Meandering between the white limestone rocks where the vegetation grows peacefully.

In some places, stairs have been set up to facilitate the passage from stream to stream.

In the limits of these enchanting places, the white limestone cliffs and the deep coves of the coastal strip draw a wild landscape whose wildness surprises the visitor.

The narrowness of the path, the unevenness of the surface, and, in mistral weather, the sudden and formidable waves characterize a route that, despite the heavy tourist traffic, has a reasonably sporty profile.

A visit to Villa Eilenroc and its idyllic gardens brings this long sea voyage to an end before the easy return to La Garoupe via the small inland roads of Cap d’Antibes.

Le Nomade and Port Vauban

With its 1,500 berths, modernized infrastructure, and capacity to accommodate boats up to 160 meters, Port Vauban is the mecca of yachting in the Mediterranean.

Vauban is a port of contrasts that cultivates multiple assets. Once authentic and utterly oriented towards the third millennium, it combines modernity and heritage.

It is attractive and human; it offers its clients and visitors a unique quality of stay in an exceptional setting.

The wealth on display in the port of Antibes will take your breath away.

This is one of the most expensive places in the world to moor your boat, with fees exceeding one million euros.

Le Nomade is the giant figure of a person looking at the Mediterranean consisting of hundreds of white letters.

Cannes Yachting Festival

Each year the Yachting Festival hosts an eclectic range of boats from 3 to 50 meters afloat and less than 10 meters on land. These boats are sailing or motor, monohull or multihull, hard or semi-rigid hull.

Get to know the biggest names in the nautical industry and their latest innovations in unparalleled visiting conditions!

Walk the Croix-des-Gardes and Enjoy the Views

A true green lung of Cannes, the Croix-des-Gardes Natural Forest Park is classified as a sensitive natural area.

Its 80 hectares of Mediterranean vegetation, mostly owned by the Conservatoire du littoral, are managed by an ecoguard of the city of Cannes, which has developed 20 km of trails, a fitness trail, and six viewpoints offering a 360-degree panorama.

Amid a thousand scents, numerous routes will allow you to reach the top of the hill, where a large cross now resides, made in 1990 by the artist Jean-Yves Lechevallier.

Cannes Town Hall

The Cannes Town Hall, located at 1 place Bernard-Cornut-Gentille in Cannes, was built in 1876 by the city architect Louis Hourlier and houses the mayor’s office and part of the municipal services.

The town hall is built in an eclectic style with a classicist tendency, in limestone and masonry, on a tripartite rectangular and homogeneous plan with a crossed axis of symmetry used as a vestibule.

An exciting place to visit in Cannes.

The Old Port

The Old Port of Cannes is one of the oldest ports on the Côte d’Azur.

Bordering an idyllic seaside promenade and at the foot of Le Suquet, it enjoys a privileged location in the heart of the city of Cannes. The picture would not be complete without the Lérins Islands in front of it.

The port is bordered to the west by the islands embarkation pier and to the east by the famous Albert-Edouard wharf, which borders the Palais des Festivals and offers more than half a kilometer of quayside in the harbor to accommodate major yachts.

In 2021, the Old Port welcomed 480 prestigious motor units, from 3 to 50 meters, brand new and presented by the largest shipyards in the world.

The Old Port is also the setting for the Luxury Gallery, a sector dedicated to luxury and the art of living.

Sailing the French Riviera

Discover the French Riviera on a boat tour of the Bay of Cannes. With this tour, you will see the Leris Islands up close and enjoy the flora and fauna of this beautiful natural environment.

Visit the Center d’Art La Malmaison

The beating heart of Contemporary Art in Cannes aims to present monographic exhibitions of artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.

This museum is located on La Croisette and has 3 major exhibitions a year.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday.

Palm Beach and other beaches

The beaches in Cannes can be divided into public and private, and both are charming in their own way.

Private beaches have plenty of amenities (lockers, sun loungers, waiter service) and are closer to La Croisette, the city’s main boulevard. However, you have to pay to access them.

The public beaches are natural and minimalist, but some also have showers and restaurants nearby.

Here is our selection of the best beaches in Cannes:

  • Carlton Beach (Private)
  • Long Beach (Private)
  • La Bocca Beach (Public)
  • Midi Beach (Public)
  • Palm Beach (Public)
  • Gazagnaire Beach (Public)
  • The Beaches of Marguerite Island

Visit the Villa Rothschild

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is located between the Bay of Villefranche and Beaulieu. About 10 kilometers from Nice and Monaco.

The villa now houses the Noailles Mediatheque. The building and its garden, both classified as historical monuments, have a rich history and bear witness to the splendor of the holiday Cannes at the dawn of the last century.

The municipality has designed the Cannes Jardin mobile application to better discover this Eden of Cannes and its exceptional plant heritage.

Without a doubt, it deserves a good visit on your trip to the Côte d’Azur in France.

Boat trip through the Estérel Massif

On this tour, you will cross the Mediterranean, searching for the most outstanding volcanic landscapes of the Côte d’Azur. Do you sign up?

Where to Stay in Cannes

Lion’s Room Apartment

Two minutes from the Palais des Festivals and the beaches, you have this very well-located accommodation and reasonably well priced for Cannes.

The 30-square-meter apartment has a kitchen with a coffee machine, a bathroom with a washing machine, a terrace, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, a sofa bed, and a double room.

It is very comfortable for a few days’ getaways as a couple or with friends.

Hotel Barrière Le Majestic (5 stars)

This magnificent 5-star hotel in Cannes is a wonder where you can enjoy a private beach, an intimate atmosphere, and fantastic rooms with sea views.

Let yourself be surprised and enjoy some fabulous days on the Croisette, Cannes.

Intercontinental Hotel-Carlton, Cannes

The Carlton Hotel in Cannes is probably the best in Cannes. But, unfortunately, it will be closed for the next few months for renovations.

How to Get to Cannes

Arriving by Plane in Cannes

To get to Cannes by air, one has two options, get to Nice International Airport or the smaller but excellent Cannes-Mandelieu Airport (located 6 kilometers from the center of Cannes).

In fact, the latter has a rather exclusive character, being frequented mainly by private and small planes.

While Nice International Airport, although located 24 kilometers from Cannes, has the reputation of serving the entire tourist platform of the French Côte d’Azur, Monaco included.

Book your plane ticket here.

Getting to Cannes by train

The second most popular and efficient way to get to Cannes is by train. The city has three types of international trains:

  • Trains Blues,
  • TEE (Trans-Europe Express)
  • TGV (high-speed trains), it is easily accessible from Paris (about 7 hours to Cannes by train), for example from Marseille, from Basel (about 10 hours), Milan (5 hours), Venice and Rome (about 10 hours each), Brussels (about 7 hours).

Another essential aspect for those who choose the train to arrive or depart from Cannes is the fact that the Cannes main train station offers quick access to the main routes of Cannes, which is why many locals and visitors choose to travel by train.

Book your train ticket here

Getting to Cannes by car or bus

Cannes and the entire Côte d’Azur are connected to the European motorway network. Thus, Cannes is linked to Paris by the A8 Estérel motorway, a distance that can be covered in an 8-hour trip.

The same road provides access to Nice and Monaco, but the N98 represents an alternative, as far as Nice and Monaco are concerned, linking Cannes directly with Nice and Monaco.

Book your bus ticket here

Book your rental car here

Arriving by boat/ferry in Cannes

In Corsica, ferries from Bastia and Calvi arrive in Nice and pick up passengers to offer them a pleasant journey along the Mediterranean coast.

Travelers can turn to this mode of transport if they are looking for a more atypical experience. Even though ferry trips take longer, the scenery is ultimately awe-inspiring and rewarding.

Example of the duration of the ferries from Bastia: between 3 hours and 40 minutes and 4 hours and 45 minutes to cover the distance, and from 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours and 45 minutes for Calvi.

Leaving aside the ferries, you can choose speedboats to cover the distance between Nice and Cannes or, for that matter, to get from one point to another on the French Riviera.

Book ferry here

Plan Your Trip to the South of France

Best things to do in Cannes, France

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