The world-famous French Mediterranean port and resort of Cannes is a hub for the ultra-wealthy, especially every May when the Cannes Film Festival kicks off. International movie stars, the beautiful people, sports celebrities and high society from across the planet arrive for the event, pursued by even larger numbers of paparazzi and TV cameras. Million dollar yachts cram the marina and those who arrive by air are more likely to use a private jet than EasyJet. Cannes is a place where money is the most important attribute, backed up by entrepreneurs marketing the best of everything from fashion to food.
Serving the visitors are Cannes hotels, restaurants and retailers from the exclusive and expensive to the affordable and quirky. Cannes, unlike its popular image, isn’t just for the rich, and has plenty to offer the average holidaymaker with a love for all things French and a need for Mediterranean sea, sand and sun. France is rightly famed as the birthplace of fine cuisine, with a number of famous chefs working their magic in magnificent restaurants in either hotels in Cannes or plush independent premises. Yes, the cuisine offered is fiendishly expensive, but gives an unforgettable culinary experience on a special occasion.
The luxurious lifestyle offerings in the fields of cuisine, fashion, jewellery and accommodation in the town attract visitors year-round, with the film festival the cherry on the cake for businesses at all levels. Many tourists arrive in May for an annual celebrity-spotting holiday, with affordable pensions and auberges with their small eateries offering delicious fixed-price French meals doing great business. With UK tourists able to save money by driving through France via the ferries or the Channel tunnel, the less expensive dining and shopping venues frequented by Cannes’ large number of foreign residents are becoming better known each year.
Two of Cannes’ historic old quarters, Le Suquet and Vieux Le Cannet, are favourite spots for dining, as are the restaurants along the old port and the marina, slightly more expensive but great for people watching and sunset-viewing. Typical French, reasonably-priced menus are found in brasseries and eateries in the tiny streets backing Rue d’ Antibes, with the trick being, as in all foreign cities, watching for where the locals eat. Place Bellue, a pretty tree-lined square in Le Cannet, holds five good restaurants with tables set in the open air and can be reached by a local bus journey of about two kilometres from the town centre.
Cannes is a shopaholic’s dream, even if window-shopping in La Croisette, home to all the world’s major design names, is the only option. All is not lost, as the old quarters, the Rue Meynadier market area and the little back-street boutiques featuring local designers as well as the department stores with their French high street chains all display affordable fashion treats. Stylish shoes are the bargain buys here. There’s a great deal more here than just fashion – other temptations include hand-made chocolates, marrons glaces, antiques and bric-a-brac at the Saturday and Monday marches brocantes (flea markets), French cheese and wine and plenty of souvenirs in the old quarters.
A well-kept local secret set in the extraordinarily unpretty industrial area of the town is Les Tourrades, a hive of warehouses containing factory outlets and covered areas offering all kinds of goods from shoes, fashions, home décor French style, kitchen equipment, jewellery and much more. It’s set on the outskirts of town, but easily accessible by local bus, and closes with most of the rest of town for the afternoon lunch/siesta break. Committed bargain-hunters will love this place, as do the local people.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Cannes Hotels content.