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A chic seaside break

A sunny enclave on France’s Côte d’Azur, Cannes wasn’t always such a honeypot for the well-heeled and fabulous. Up until 1834, it was a humble fishing village, but then English statesman and philosopher Lord Henry Brougham built a grand house there. This inspired other well-to-do types to regard Cannes, with its clear waters and sublime climate, as a revitalising Victorian health destination. On Cannes city breaks nowadays, you’ll find it still draws a jet-set crowd, who visit upscale boutiques before returning to their super yachts and flashy sports cars. Moreover, since Brougham’s day, Cannes has become a magnet for Hollywood stars – the best and brightest of which arrive each May for the city’s now world-famous film festival.

City breaks to Cannes aren’t all about celebrity-spotting, though, as there are beautiful sandy public beaches and a cluster of bijou offshore islands to explore. There’s also the cutesy rustic architecture of the old quarter, Le Suquet, where you can shop for handmade crafts and jewellery, and watch street artists perform along its narrow, cobbled lanes. It has come a very long way from its origins as a sleepy fisherman’s village, and after your first city break to Cannes, you’re sure to be hooked.

Explore our map of Cannes

Your Cannes questions, answered

Stock up on supplies – plump olives, savoury meats and prime seafood – at a local market before heading to La Croix-des-Gardes, Lord Henry Brougham’s old home, which is now a 200-acre park.
Some of them, but by no means all. Check out Plage du Midi, Plage de la Bocca or Palm Beach – all of which are sandy suntraps and are easily reachable.
If you want to avoid the huge crowds and summer heat, plan your visit to Cannes in May, June or September. It'll be pleasantly warm, at about 24°C, whereas in July and August it can rise as high as 35°C. The sea will be warmer for swimming in September and you can gawk at all the luxury yachts on display in the Yachting Festival. Go in May to spot a film star, but you can expect high prices and full hotels. Cannes winters are generally mild and you can see a dance festival in November/December.
It depends what you’re after – Rue d’Antibes is a good all-rounder and Rue Meynadier has plenty of independent and artisan shops, while La Croisette is best for luxe, big-ticket purchases.
You'll find plenty of beaches in Cannes in addition to La Croisette, the Midi and the Gazagnaire. Quite a few of them belong to the big hotels on the main boulevard. You'll have to pay unless you're a guest there. However, you'll get showers, lockers, loungers and waiter service if you choose the Marriott or the Carlton. Further east, towards the Croisette headland, you’ll come across smaller, family beaches, such as Bijou and Palm Beach, with shallow water. Bijou Beach is quite sheltered, while Palm Beach has water sports like surfing and kite surfing.
Despite its reputation for glitz and glamour, Cannes is still a good place to go with a family. There are beaches galore with water sports and activities, and there's a little road train that goes on a tour around the town. You can hunt for famous names outside the Palais des Festivals, where all the film stars set their handprints, or take a 10-minute boat trip to the islands of St Marguerite and St Honorat. You'll find hiking trails down to beaches with rock pools, and St Honorat has an old fort that your kids will enjoy.
As you'd expect, Cannes is a pretty lively place at night. Apart from a wide range of restaurants and shows, many of the seafront hotels host beach events and parties in the summer. From world-famous DJs and dance evenings to the fireworks competition in July and August, there's always something to see or do. You'll discover a bevvy of bars and clubs in the Carre d'Or, or Gold Quarter. On Fridays, there's a special Cannes retro-chic event called a Guinguette. The Jardin du Martinez sets up as an old-fashioned French garden bar lit with lanterns.
Cannes is known for its film festival, which takes place every May. International film stars come to walk the red carpet. You can see many famous handprints on the beach boulevard at La Croisette. You'll also see the glitterati at the Yacht Festival in September and the International Pyrotechnic Festival in the summer. This competition usually runs for six weeks from Bastille Day on July 14th. You will see some spectacular firework displays. Cannes is also known for its food, especially seafood and Parisian patisserie.
Cannes is a bit of a foodie paradise, particularly when the big names are visiting for the film festival. You'll get everything from Michelin stars to sushi, but the French Riviera has long been known for its seafood. You can buy this from street outlets as well as cafes and restaurants, or perhaps at the Forville daily farmers' market. You'll also see stalls selling cooked meats and other homemade local treats like socca chickpea pancakes. Another Cannes speciality is the town's high-end Parisian patisserie, featured in bakeries that create unique desserts, macarons and state-of-the-art chocolate confections.