36 Hours in Cannes, France

An iconic name on the French Riviera, with a plethora of Palm Trees, Luxury Boutiques, polished Super Yachts, and some of the most lavish properties in Europe; Cannes is a little jewel in the crown of France.

Inspired by The New York Times “36 Hours” series, we know that time is precious, and if you’re flying in from London, Moscow, New York, Dubai, or Cape Town, we want you to have the best 36 hours possible in this vibrant Riviera hotspot that we call home.

FRIDAY

1.)  3 P.M.  BREATHE IT IN

After setting your bags down upon arrival in Cannes, you’ll want to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh sea air that attracted the Victorians all those years ago, and there’s only one place for it, the famous Boulevard de la Croisette.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

In order to take to the Croisette, you will have to leave your “get me there on time” legs behind, and settle into a delightfully relaxed “promenade”; partly shaded by palm trees and pines, time slows as the big city, or work life that you left behind you fades to a distant memory.

Dotted along the Croisette are “Cabane’s” selling seafront snacks, but also something new and quite unique to the French Riviera, “Los Pistoleros”. Some young entrepreneurs from Le Cannet (the hilltop village just above Cannes) were inspired by the famous Mexican fruit ice lollies, and are now offering them on the Cote d’Azur. Made with real fruit and fresh ingredients, a local ice lolly (Pistoleros à la Croisette) is the perfect afternoon treat to start your 36 hours in the sun.

2.)  7:00 P.M. ROOFTOP ROSÉ

Being in the region of Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, we’re taking special notice of the “Provence” part of this tongue twister of a region, which supplies the restaurants, bars and supermarkets with some of the best local wines, at affordable prices.

Your first evening in Cannes, wouldn’t be complete without a crisp glass of rosé, while watching the sun go down over the Esterel Moutains. The sunsets in Cannes are the best on the French Riviera, thanks to the colours that the red rocks, which make up the Esterel Mountains, taint the sky with their soft shapes silhouetted against the setting sun. Facing South/South West you can be guaranteed a cold glass of rosé and a spectacular sunset from anywhere along the beachfront in Cannes, however, there is one place that with only 36 hours, you cannot miss, and that is the rooftop bar of the Radisson Hotel. At the far edge of the port, the Radisson Hotel’s rooftop gives you a 360 degree view of the setting sun as well as the old town of Cannes behind you, the Port below, and the Croisette snaking off towards the Islands to the East.  With a glass of rosé in hand, you have yourself a heavenly combination.

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Sunset in late Autumn from the Croisette

3.)  09:00 P.M. EAT LOCAL

One of the greatest joys in life, is arriving at a restaurant where there is no menu. No menu means 3 things; firstly, that whatever you are eating is going to be seasonal and fresh, secondly, the chef is doing what he knows best, so its’ bound to be good, and thirdly, there can be no food envy at the table!

Tucked away in the Old Town of Le Suquet is “Le Salon des Independents”, offering no menu, and a taste of real France. Greeted with a glass of champagne, the owner will then bring out a series of typically French and very seasonal dishes. It’s not Michelin Star cuisine, but it’s wholesomely good every single time, served with genuine charm and it is good value. If you’re lucky enough, the owner may even bring out his guitar and surprise you with an impromptu live concert.

 

SATURDAY

4.)  9:00 A.M. BUTTERY PILLOWS OF GOODNESS

There are few things that spell “France” quite like a light and buttery Croissant accompanied by a Cappuccino to get your day started. The place to experience the best of this combination is at “Da Laura” on rue Hoche. It’s an Italian Restaurant run by the very lovely Laura; they make the perfect Cappuccino, and serve it with the lightest, butteryest (if that isn’t a word, it should be!) Croissants in town. Sit at one of their outdoor tables and enjoy the people watching, or take your breakfast inside and experience whatever indoor floral decorations Laura has for the season. They’re usually hanging from the roof, and they’re always something special.

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Da Laura’s famous Capuccino

5.)  11:00 A.M A SPOT OF SHOPPING ON THE WAY

Make your way to catch the Ferry across to the “Iles de Lerins” (the islands), but it just so happens that to get there, you will need to take one of two shopping streets, either the Rue d’Antibes, which has all the main clothing and lifestyle brands, such as Zara, Mango, Pull & Bear and L’Occitane, or the Croisette, for the luxury brands; Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Armani, to name just a few.

6.)  12:30 P.M. ISLAND HOPPING

There are 2 Islands in the Bay of Cannes, both of which have a wonderful history. The larger and closer of the Islands, “Ile Sainte Marguerite”, with a magnificent  fort on the Northern side of it, and which is lit up at night and visible from Cannes, is where (legend has it) the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned. The further, smaller island, “Ile Saint Honorat”, has been a working Monastery since the fifth century, and remains so to this day with a community of around 30 Monks – the oldest working Monastery in Europe.

A short 20 minute Ferry ride, takes you to Ile Saint Marguerite. Rustic, charming, idyllic. Quickly after leaving the ferry, your fellow passengers disperse, and you can take a walk around the island to the  Mediterranean hum of Cicadas, finding yourself one of the many private beach coves on the Southern side of the island, with crystal blue waters, overhanging pines, and a view across at Ile Saint Honorat.

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The Monastery on Île Saint Honorat

7.)  02:00 P.M.  WHO CAN SAY NO TO MOULES FRITES

After a dip in the sea to cool off, you can either cut directly across the island, back to the Fort, or take the long route around the island, making your way back to the Fort, and into the teeny tiny little town, where you will find “L’Escale”, perfect for a late lunch, with excellent “Moules Frites”.

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The view from L’Escale

8.)  06:00 P.M. IN THE STEPS OF THE STARS

On your way home from the Islands (everything is within walking distance in Cannes),  you cannot miss the Palais des Festivals. A magnificent seafront Congress hall with “the” red carpet running up the front stairs, this is where the Cannes Film Festival has taken place every year since 1946. As you walk around it, you can match your handprints with those of some of the greatest actors, directors and filmmakers of our time.

By this point, you will likely be in need of refreshment, and there are few better places to do this than on the terrace of the iconic Carlton Hotel.

9.)  09:00 P.M. DINNER ON THE PLACE

Loved by locals, Le Cannet is a 10 minute taxi ride from Cannes, perched on the little hill to the North of the City, and with charming cobbled streets, trendy art galleries and local friendly French restaurants and cafés. In the heart of it all is the main square, or “Place Bellevue”, a romantic, and utterly enchanting spot, overlooking the whole of Cannes below. “Café de le Place” is where you will enjoy excellent French food alongside the locals in the centre of the Square.

SUNDAY

10.) 09:00 FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS GROWN IN PROVENCE

Your 36 hours in Cannes would not be complete without Sunday morning at Forville Market, a fresh and local food market with small independent cafés, and wine bars lining it’s edge. The produce in this market is second to none, and the quality is worth every penny. It is a hive of activity on a Sunday morning, with locals and tourists both absorbing that feeling of pure delight that only a market with fresh, local and colourful food can create. Pick up a few jammy-centered fresh figs, a bunch of grapes or some peaches to snack on as you wander the aisles between vendors.

When a coffee is calling your name, the best coffee on the market edge is at “Saporedipane”, and if you’re after a savoury snack, they make a fantastic Foccaccia too. Having lived in Genoa, the home of Foccaccia, before moving to France, we can vouch for the fact that this is the good authentic stuff!

Happy hours can be spent whiling away your Sunday at Forville Market, and maybe a coffee leads to an “aperitif” to close off your 36 hours in Cannes, in which case there is only one place to go, “Ets Vallauris” , a tucked away little wine bar on the North side of the market, which not only serves the best local wines, but also makes a cheese and charcuterie platter that will make you wish you never had to catch your flight home.

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A Provencale feast with fresh market goods

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