Cannes is a quiet charming resort city
with hotels overlooking the sea.
Quiet until movie stars come for the Cannes Film Festival!
Cannes began as a fishing village probably in the second century BC, and in following years was mainly populated by monks who had monasteries on the islands off-shore and on the mainland. These were fortified for protection and the watch tower was built on the small hill beyond the present marina. The name 'Cannes' came from the word 'kan', meaning hilltop - and the area of Le Suquet on or near the hill became the first town.
Cannes was very insecure during the Middle Ages. The Saracens conquered the town, there were wars, and the great plague in the mid-1500's during which almost everyone died. Twice the Spaniards took over the town. By the 1700's peace had come to the area, and as in Nice, the British began to spend their winters here and by the next century the beautiful hotels were built. The Film Festival began in 1946, and the town became known for glamour, stunning hotels, the lovely promenade, movie stars and rich patrons.
The yellow line on the map above is a sightseeing walking tour, and you can add the green line to see the shopping streets.
Cannes is a tender port. The tenders come into the Vieux (Old) Port. From your dock, the old part of the city began on the small hill to your left now called Le Suquet, and you can see the fort tower and the clock tower of the old church (beside). As you were coming in, you would see the long stretch of beach by the street named Boulevard de la Croissette. Behind the beaches are the big hotels. The theater where the film festival is held is just at the far right corner of the port.
To begin your walk, go along the side of the harbour, and the end. The City Hall stands by itself across the open area, with the Winged Victory statue in front. There is a nice wide walkway by the harbour. At the northeast corner of the harbour, cross the street to the Palais de Festivals (below).
Here you will see the stairs the stars climb on the red carpet, and the flower pots and fence bits are removed to extend the carpet out across the street. As these streets are closed to the public during the film festival, this isn't a problem.
Beside the stairs to the left is the tourist office, and to the right is a casino. Past the Palais de Festivals there is a small park with a charming carousel, and now the walkway is beside the sea.
The big hotels on the other side of the street own the beaches. Most of these beach sections are restaurants, so you can eat and have a drink under the beach umbrellas. These beaches are private to customers only, so if you want to swim or lie on the sand, on the left side is a public beach.
My first visit to Cannes was on a bus tour of France. We had stayed in Nice, and were told to get up at 5:00 a.m. to catch the bus at 6:30 to drive to Cannes. The reason was that the Film Festival was on, and early in the morning all the streets in the downtown area would be closed! So we did a quick drive down the main streets, and what pictures I have from this visit are from the bus windows. This was 2010.... The photo below shows one of the large film advertising signs that were on the fronts of the major hotels - in this case, the Intercontinental Carlton.
Walk along the beach promenade until at least the second small wharf, which on nice days has tables and umbrellas where you can eat and drink (below). Cross the streets to the walkway in front of the hotels. You are now in front of the Cannes Intercontinental Carlton Hotel - perhaps the most famous of the Cannes hotels on the street called La Croisette. It is a favourite hotel for movie stars coming for the film festival, and was the main location for the Hitchcock movie "To Catch a Thief".
Walk back towards the port and admire the lovely hotels.
Optional Shopping....... the green line.......
Walk up the street on the left of my favourite hotel, Relais de la Reine (beside) with the glass fronted balconies, and turn right onto Rue du Commandant Andre. This is a shopping street with wide pedestrian sidewalks.
In 3 blocks the street appears to end and has a small notch. If you wish to see the clothing market, go around the notch and continue up the street (see the map at the top of the page). There are varying views on this small market. It does have fruit and veggies early in the morning, and clothing, shoes, purses, etc. in the afternoon.
If you go to the small market, walk back to the notch and turn right onto Rue d'Antibes. This is another shopping street.
Follow this street until you see the open space, with the City Hall ahead - and turn right for one block to get to the big market Marche Forville - with fruit and vegetables, meat and fish - and places to eat. This may not be open in the afternoon.
Le Suquet is the oldest part of Cannes. This is the name of the small hill and the slopes surrounding it. If you love to explore the old narrow medieval streets, this is the place for you. There are many ways to the top of the hill where the old church and the castle command lovely views of the city - and how you go can depend on your level of climbing hills.
First, find the City Hall that is a large ornate building facing the end of the port, picture on the right. Walk around the left end of the City Hall where there is a city bus depot. From here you can see the clock tower on the church at the top of the hill - and - if you turn around you can see one of the interesting things in Cannes - a wall painting of movie stars of the past.
There are lots of these scattered around the city. Marilyn Munro is on a building just behind the train station, movie cars on a parking lot wall north of that - and several more by the highway that runs behind Le Suquet. Keep your eye open for another smaller thing - often if a window on a larger building is missing to make the set of windows balanced - a window will be painted on to match the others - and you can't tell unless you look very carefully! Sometimes doors are painted on with imaginary balconies. Here is a link to see a list of movie paintings.
To walk to the top of Le Suquet without stairs, while facing the building with the the painting above look to the right and take the sloping road that goes up the side of the hill next to the brick wall. Follow this sloping road that zig-zags up the side of the hill (beside) until you reach the top. For shorter ways to the top, take any set of stairs that you see! As long as you are heading up, you will get there.
Or....... take one of the charming narrow streets that go north opposite the building painting, and follow your nose - either going up sloping streets or stairs where you find them!
On the top of Le Suquet are some great views over the city and the ocean. There is the castle, now a museum. It was built in the 1100's by monks, and the church Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance was built about 200 years later.
The church with the clock and bell tower looks plain from the outside, but has some treasures inside. The creche below is perhaps the most interesting of the treasures.
To return to the tender pier at the port, go down to the street below the castle on the side facing the sea. There is a flight of stairs to the street below that, turn left and go down stairs - or a street that goes down to the port level.
I hope you enjoy walking Cannes. There is not a lot to see, but the walk is very pleasant and there are lovely restaurants to stop and enjoy! The views over the Côte d'Azur are spectacular......