Pictures of the floating world

10 sights to see in Cannes if you’re not a beach person

Explore the historical side of Cannes (yes, it’s only about beach and shopping)

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Cannes is a gem of Cote d’Azur everyone has heard about. Yes, it’s a seaside destination where you can spend summer days in leisure thanks to beautiful sand beaches (opposite Nice, where there are pebbles, and not everyone is fond of them, especially on a scolding day).

Yes, it’s a venue for the Cannes Film Festival, which has taken place here annually in May since 1946. And no one comes to Cannes for historical insights, right?

Well, I tried and gathered a list of landmarks you can spot on your next visit to Cannes, and I hope it’ll help you to enrich your experience! 

But first: Lord Brougham’s monument

 You might ask me why I include this monument on my list at the very beginning? If you love Cannes, please thank this British gentleman. 

We can’t skip the fact that the fame of Cannes at least partially started with Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham, and Vaux, a famous British politician and writer of the 19th century who promoted many progressive reforms, including the slavery abolition! He was the one who fell in love with this fishing village back in 1834 (the portrait below is the oil painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence; National Portrait Gallery, London via Britannica).

He meant to head to Italy; however, because of a cholera epidemic, he had to turn back until he found this blissful site. Lord Brougham fell in love with it, actively promoted Cannes’ urban development, and convinced his aristocratic rich friends to come for a visit too. As a result, the place became famous and posh! Thus, as far as the story goes, he is the one who’s responsible for the Cannes we know today.  

1. Vieux Port

Vieux Port, or the Old Port, is the seaside area right below the Old Town of Cannes, Le Suquet, located near the modern Marine Railway Station. The Royal Regatta starts here – and of course, you can enjoy a beautiful combination of turquoise waters with greedy fish and white yachts! The Lérins Islands are seen on the horizon as well.

2. Le Suquet

Cannes started as a settlement called Aegitna of the Ligurian tribe Oxibii around 2 century BC. For a very long time, Cannes was just a small fishing village, and Le Suquet has always been at the very center of it.

Le Suquet is the remains of the old city, with the Mont Chevalier going 60 meters high over the rest of the city. Climb rue Sainte-Antoine if you’d like some shopping or looking for a meal, but for the views over the Vieux Port, I’d suggest you go for Rue du Mont Chevalier!

3.Notre-Dame d’Espérance

Notre-Dame d’Espérance is one of the main attractions of Le Suquet. Located on the very top of the hill, this 16th-century church is the oldest and the most important religious landmark in Cannes.

It’s famous for its 17th-century high altar and the mix of architectural styles. The remnants of the walls are right in front of the church, so you might want to climb there for some views! 

4.Musée des Explorations du Monde

Musée des Explorations du Monde is a museum with a nice collection of artifacts representing different historical periods of humanity, including Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Rome, as well as some artifacts from Oceania and pre-Colimbian America.

During my visit there, the museum held an exhibition about shamans, their social roles, and different practices. The museum itself used to host the monastery of Lérins, named after the islands nearby, and the building still looks like a proper, mighty medieval castle.

If you’re not into cultural explorations, there’s another reason you might visit Musée des Explorations du Monde….

5.Tour du Mont Chevalier

 Famous Tour du Mont Chevalier, the 11th-century watchtower, is located within the grounds of Musée des Explorations du Monde, and a visit to it is included in your museum entrance ticket.

Once you climb to the top, you’ll see the most magnificent panorama of Côte d’Azur, and you also can explore the miniature of the ancient Suquet on the top of the tower. 

6. Marché Forville

 Marché Forville, located inside a beautiful fairytale-like building of the pinky shade, is the market where local farmers sell their produce.

I’m confident you won’t want to miss it during your trip to Cannes (unfortunately, I was around that area too late during the day when all the stalls had already gone): it’s open only in the mornings and is closed on Mondays.

7. La Mairie de Cannes and Kiosque de la musique

La Mairie de Cannes is a stunning building in front of the Old Port dating to 1877. The architect behind its construction is Louis Hourlier, completed in 1877.

The same person is also responsible for designing the famous Kiosque de la musique, the bandstand dating to 1880, a bit further away on Allées de la Liberté. Its innovative shape contributed to the improved acoustic properties of the bandstand. During my visit, there was a large flea market around this area.

8.Boulevard de la Croisette

Strolling the Boulevard de la Croisette is similar to walking along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice: it’s a must-do on your trip to Cannes!

It was built in 1857 and now provides the best scenic views over the seaside (the beaches come along La Croisette) and is also a High-end shopping destination. The luxury brands reside here, and if you’re looking for Dior, Chanel, Gucci, etc., head there without hesitation.

I’d also recommend Armani Cafe for their tiramisu – they serve drinks and desserts all day and food during the spicific time slots.

 On the other side of Old Port, there’s another promenade called Boulevard Du Midi Louise Moreau, and if you prefer quieter and more relaxed walks, try it instead. 

9.Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, located at 1 Boulevard de la Croisette, is responsible for hosting the Cannes Film Festival in May, so you probably have seen movie stars and directors posing for journalists in the background! It also houses lesser-known events and festivals mainly linked to art.

There’s a nice green area called Esplanade du President George Pompidou beside it.

10.Rue d’Antibes and Rue Meynadier

Shopping is one of the main activities you can do in Cannes. There is no doubt that you won’t want to miss the Rue d’Antibes and Rue Meynadier, but wander around as well to explore smaller shops, too! 

What else can you see?

 Pop into the Le Centre d’Art La Malmaison, now a museum, and look at the beautiful Le Palais Miramar at the Boulevard de la Croisette. If you have more time, you can visit the Chapelle Bellini museum and the islands nearby.

By the way, did you know that the famous Man in the Iron Mask (who was a real person, not just a character from Alexandre Dumas’s book) was held in prison in the Fort Royal for 11 years on Sainte Marguerite Island here in Cannes?  

You might also like my other blogs about France:

Hope you liked my blog,
Anna xxx

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