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Cannes - where glamour meets art
Think of Cannes and you think of beautiful people, the fabulously wealthy and of course the world famous Film Festival. But even if you don’t get to mix it with the movie stars, the city doesn’t disappoint.
Cannes completely encapsulates the glamour of the Cote D’Azur, with its sweeping palm-fringed beaches backed by gleaming five and six star hotels, multi-million euro apartments, Michelin standard restaurants and couture boutiques.
Mogul class yachts are moored year round in its elegant marina and the rich and famous are always to be found along its most famous street, Le Croisette, shopping for designer clothes and jewellery, or sipping champagne in the elegant cafes.
Nestling at the foot of the Alpes Martimes, the French are rightly proud of this jewel of a city. Yet ironically it was a British MP, Lord Henry Brougham, who turned it from a sleepy fishing village into a destination for the international glitterati, when he built a holiday villa there in 1835. Soon after it became the fashionable haunt of the rich and famous of Europe.
It’s reputation was consolidated when the French established the now internationally famous Cannes Film Festival in the post War period.
Today Cannes is all about style - seeing and being seen in the best hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. So here’s my insider’s guide to the best of the city - whether your budget is grand ou petit.
Few places can compete with Cannes for both opulent and boutique hotels, from the historic Carlton to the uber trendy Hotel 3.14. The film festival and many other conventions staged in the seafront Palais des Festivals demand a high standard of accommodation, which is good for the visitor looking for a short break.
I was there for the Cannes Shopping Festival held each year on or near the Easter weekend. The event showcases up and coming French designers like local hero Christophe Guillarme, and Denis Durand who put on a spectacular movie-themed fashion show during my visit.
Virtually every designer worth knowing has a store in Cannes. The best shopping is in Rue d’Antibes but for something cheaper try Rue Meynadier. For restaurants, you need to head to Rue Saint Antoine which winds up hill near the old town. A good way to spend a morning in Cannes is browsing the famous market at La Porte Forville where you will find a selection of the freshest fish, fruit and vegetables, along with delicious cheeses. On Saturdays, there’s a great antiques market, Marché Brocante at Les Allées opposite the old port. And the city is teeming with wonderful patisseries and chocolatiers.
In the afternoon, a walk uphill towards the Place de la Castre in the old town will give you great views of the city. Even better if you climb the ancient tower in the grounds of Musée de la Castre (entrance 6 euros) which features paintings of the city in the 19th century. From the top of the tower, see if you can spot the mural of Marilyn Monroe - 10 years ago, the Mayor of Cannes commissioned various artists to paint movie-themed murals across several buildings and they are now part of the cityscape. For impromptu evening entertainment, try the Majestic Hotel for dinner and nightly jazz jamming by local musicians.
I stayed in five-star The Grand Hotel in a prestige room (from approx 270 euros per night) overlooking La Croisette and the blue Mediterranean. With its serene retro ambience, private gardens and