Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Cannes (France), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Le Suquet is the oldest quarter of Cannes and is today considered the best area for visitors in search of authenticity and a charming, historic atmosphere.
The cobblestoned streets running through Le Suquet are lined with residential buildings that used to be the home of the local fisherman. This neighborhood is located just five minutes away from the beach and should not be missed when coming to Cannes.
Another major draw of this area is that it has largely been closed to traffic and mostly serves as a pedestrian zone, making exploring it on foot a very relaxed way to spend the day.
Eglise Notre-Dame D’Espérance
The scenic Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance is one of the most popular churches in the region as it is located on a scenic hilltop overlooking not just the nearby sea but also the city of Cannes.
This 16th-century church can be reached from Le Suquet. Keep in mind that the steep stairs that lead towards the church can be exhausting and you should take it slow during hot weather.
The views from the hill are not the only reason this site attracts so many visitors. The Eglise Notre-Dame D’Espérance is also impressive due to a distinct gothic-style, marvelous garden, and a Renaissance porch.
La Croisette is one of Europe’s most attractive promenades and leads along the beaches in Cannes on one side and the splendid buildings housing the annual film festival and luxurious hotels on the other side.
It is often called the jewel of the city and acts as one of the must-visits when coming to this region of France. Similar to other promenades it was built to please the rich visitors that came here to enjoy the mild winters of Southern France in the 18th century.
Iles de Lerins
The Iles de Lerins is a group of small islands located just opposite the Bay of Cannes. They are only a short boat ride away and offer beautiful beaches as well as unspoiled greenery.
These islands have an interesting history and are subject to many mysteries such as the “Man in the Iron Mask”. Many travel agencies and ticket vendors on Nice’s La Croisette offer ferry rides to the islands and getting here costs around 15€.
Fort Royal is located on the biggest of the Lerin islands, Ile Sainte Marguerite, and is considered one of the most significant cultural and historic highlights of the island group.
The Marche Forville is the city’s historic heart and offers seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as fish from local fishermen and a wide array of flowers. The market also hosts a flea market taking place on Mondays.
It is one of the best places for bargain hunters in Cannes. As with most markets in France, Marche Forville is very lively and great for people watching as well as getting a taste for the everyday life of the locals.
The Rue d’Antibes is Cannes’ premier shopping street and has been a commercial center of the city ever since it got turned into a pedestrian zone.
This popular street offers stores of all the big fashion brands as well as luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and many more. The Rue d’Antibes also has a fantastic location nearby La Croisette, the port as well as the Palais des Festivals.
Le Monastere Fortifie
Le Monastere Fortifie is a fortified monastery located on Île Saint-Honorat. It is one of the historical landmarks of Cannes and dates to the 11th century.
The site consists of numerous structures that offer an interesting combination of military fortifications as well as religious sites. The fortified tower situated right on the beach is the most impressive building of the monastery and offers great views over the sea as well as the religious side of the monastery.
Musee de la Castre
Musée de la Castre is located just adjacent to the harbor and is dedicated to exhibiting landscape art, musical instruments, and ethnographical items from the 19th century.
The museum is located in a very scenic medieval tower. Most of the exhibits come from Cannes and its surrounding French Riviera. The museum and its surroundings are located on a hill that offers some of the best views in all of Cannes.
Getting up the hill from the port is hard work during the hot summer months but your efforts will prove to be worth it once the breathtaking panorama becomes visible.
Cannes Yachting Festival
Cannes not only holds a world-famous annual film festival but is also home to the popular Cannes Yachting Festival taking place in September.
During this time of the year the harbor of the city is brimming with beautiful yachts and many of Europe’s ”rich and famous” come together to celebrate in Cannes.
The festival was established in 1977 and has since then developed into a major cultural highlight. Being in the city during the yachting festival is great even if you aren’t directly participating in it.
Eglise Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage
The 18th century Eglise Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage is less visited than the better known Eglise Notre-Dame D’Espérance but is equally worth a visit.
Despite its fantastic location right opposite the Palais des Festivals and the harbor it offers a more intimate atmosphere and feels a lot more authentic than the Notre-Dame D’Espérance.
The church is particularly known for being a popular live-music venue. Throughout the year many concerts take place here and the Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage is known for its excellent organ.
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most famous in the world and is what the city is known for the most. Every year many of the world’s best actors, film producers, and directors come together to celebrate the art of movie-making.
Numerous world-premiers are held during this time in the cinemas of the city. The Cannes film festival is also known for its sought-after awards that reward the best movies of the year.
The Island of Saint-Honorat
Île Saint-Honorat is the second biggest island of the Iles de Lerins and is home to the famous Le Monastere Fortifie. But there is much more to the island than a famous fortified monastery.
This island also offers nature-lovers beautiful nature that is largely untouched in many areas. Hiking around the island is a great idea for a day trip from Cannes.
The island offers a lot that can be explored including secluded churches, a fantastic shoreline, and a small restaurant nearby the boat dock on the northern shores.
Ile Sainte Marguerite is the largest of the Iles de Lerins and is also the most visited as it offers a great combination of beaches, cultural sights, nature, and some basic infrastructure including restaurants and small shops.
There are several secluded beaches and bays that are very inviting for explorers that want to get away from the well-beaten paths. But there are also various foot- and cycling paths available. Don’t miss to visit Fort Royal, which is the main historic highlight of Sainte-Marguerite Island.
Centre d’Art La Malmaison
The Art Center La Malmaison is dedicated to artworks of the 19th and 20th centuries and offers around 200 exhibits to its visitors. The art center is small in size and its gallery only has a size of around 200 m².
This makes the site very intimidate and perfectly suited for art lovers who just want to experience the fantastic works on display.
Plage du Midi
The Plague du Midi is Nice’s city beach and offers a great combination of city amenities and beach leisure in one place. The beach is popular amongst residents and locals alike and offers you the chance to cool down in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean while sightseeing around Cannes.
Despite its location right in the city, the beach is very clean and even offers views on some of the surrounding mountains and hills. There are sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent and right next to the beach is La Croisette and all of its restaurants, cafes, and bars.
The beach does get busy during the summer months especially when there is a festival so the best time to visit is during the mornings. The beach is also great for kids playing in the soft, clear sand.
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