Guide to cannes France

Complete Guide to Cannes

Visiting the beautiful town of Cannes? Our guide will tell you all you need to know about Cannes including what to do and where to eat. Famous for its annual film festival and its jet-set population in the summer, the town is a key destination for those exploring the Riviera. We love it and we think that it’s very much worth a visit to relax on the beach, eat and explore the beauty island of Sainte Marguerite. Read on to learn more and read our top recommendations on what to do in Cannes!

One of the Riviera’s Most Glamorous Towns

It’s perhaps one of the most glamorous towns on the French Riviera and probably the place to be during the summer for many. The marina is full of super yachts and the beautiful promenade is host to many designer boutiques and 5* hotels.

During the summer it’s a popular destination with Parisians who come to relax on the beach, rent a boat and enjoy the fantastic food and nightlife that the town offers.

What To See & Do in Cannes

Walk Down The Promenade & Explore the Port

At the main heart of the town is the marinas and the promenade (La Croisette). This is where you’ll find all the yachts, beach clubs on the beach and the hotels on the front. Other than the old town, it’s probably one of the prettier areas to explore!

The promenade takes about 15 minutes to walk and extends from the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès to the west to the new port (Port Pierre Canto) to the east. It’s a pretty walk with great ways across the bay and you can see some of the stunning Belle Epoque era hotels.

The old port is worth walking around and taking in some of the stunning motor yachts. I find it a lovely walk after dinner with an ice cream on a summer evening!

Explore the Old Town (Le Suquet)

The old town (called Le Suquet) is probably the prettiest part of Cannes. Just next to the old port, the area has plenty of ancient, charming winding streets lined with pastel coloured buildings. Le Suquet is on a small hill that is the highest point of the town giving fantastic views across the port and the surrounding countryside. At the very top, you’ll find the remains of the historic castle with plenty of view points.

Walking back down you may well stumble upon the marché de Forville which is an historical covered market. It runs every morning from Tuesdays-Sundays and is a great place to pick up some local produce.

Take a Trip Over to Île Sainte Marguerite

The incredibly beautiful Île Sainte Marguerite is the largest of 3 islands that make up the Lérins Islands. It’s a beautiful natural reserve and is definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting Cannes for more than a day.

There are ferries that cross over to the island from Cannes numerous times per day. You can buy advanced tickets here.

If you’re in the party mood then I’d definitely recommend booking a table for lunch at La Guérite on the island. It’s a very festive and famous lunch spot where you’ll no doubt see celebrities in the summer. It’s the kind of place where most people there will have come from one of the yachts in the bay! The food’s great and music starts mid-afternoon and that’s when it gets really lively.

Check out the Red Carpet

If you’re wanting to see where the famous Cannes film festival takes place then you’re in luck. The main area where you’ll see in photos is the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and the red carpet stays there all year round!

The annual film festival takes place around mid to late May. Although incredible to visit and soak up the atmosphere, prices do sky rocket for a few weeks so it’s best not to look for hotels around that time.

Spend a Day on the La Croisette Beach

If you’re looking for a beach day in Cannes then the main beach (La Croisette) has a great public section as well as many private beach clubs.

The public section is on the smaller side and can get extremely busy during the summer months. If you’re like me and like the comfort on a beach then there are a lot of great private beach clubs.

Mademoiselle Gray Plage is a fantastic beach club with some great food and superb service. It’s on the smaller side and the sun loungers are well spaced apart which is nice. I’ve also tried Barrière Beach but I’d avoid the sun loungers on the pontoon as it can get very windy!

Note: Unfortunately in my experience the beach clubs on La Croisette can be very picky when trying to get a sun lounger for the day. There are a lot of stories of racism and discrimination and the only times we’ve been ‘let in’ without a reservation is when we were dressed up with branded clothes and bags.

Where to Eat in Cannes

Cannes has some fantastic restaurants in the town. My favourite has to be Table 22 in the old town. They serve incredible, refined yet unpretentious French and Provençal food and have some incredible wine to boot.

I’d also recommend Le Maschou for their incredible charcoal cooked sharing steaks, chicken and fish. Open until late it’s a perfect spot to go with a big group!

Check out these restaurants in more detail and more in our guide to the best restaurants in Cannes:

FAQ: Cannes

What’s Cannes Famous For?

Cannes is famous for being one of the glamorous towns on the French Riviera and for its annual Cannes Film Festival. It’s home to many 5* hotels and plenty of designer boutiques and attracts a lot of wealthy tourists and French holiday makers.

It also hosts the annual Cannes Yachting Festival where all the world’s yacht & super yacht builders descend on the town to show off their newest models.

How Long Do You Need To Visit Cannes & Is it Worth Visiting?

Cannes isn’t a big town and it objectively hasn’t an awful lot to see if you’re want to sight-see. You can count on half a day to see most of the town, take in the promenade and the marinas. If you’re planning on going over to Mougins or Île Sainte Marguerite then you can count on 1.5 – 2 days to see everything. There is public transport in the town but I’d advise to walk in the centre of Cannes and Mougins so make sure to wear comfortable shoes!

If you’re visiting as part of a tour of the Riviera then expect to chill out. It’s a great beach destination with lots of beach clubs, bars and restaurants. In my opinion it is worth a staying a night or two, especially if you want to chill out. But be warned, there isn’t an awful lot to see and beyond the old town and the beach area, it’s not the prettiest town. It is after all a town where people life and work all year round!

How to Get There

You can get to Cannes from Nice by taking a direct TER regional train. This takes around 40 minutes and is quick and very comfy. Alternatively if you’re coming from the French capital you can take a direct TGV high speed train from the Gare de Lyon.

Where to Park

If you’re driving in to Cannes I’d recommend parking in the Pantiero private parking lot or the Suquet Forville parking. During the summer the main road along the promenade can get very congested therefore I’d recommend staying out of the centre and going for the Suquet Forville parking.

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