Cannes is more than a capital of cool. The little coastal city with a big reputation personifies liberal France. In a hotel lobby one can see gay couples cuddling as Gulf royals FaceTime on iPhones. Just outside on La Croisette—a hedonistic seaside promenade—billionaires frequent beach clubs while half-naked grannies zip by on rollerblades. As long as you’re having a good time, anything goes.
Cannes lacks one thing: culture. Yet who needs museums (although there are two cute ones) when the rue d’Antibes fashion street is like a living catwalk? The USPs here are sun, sea, sand, and seafood. Add Champagne if you’re feeling flush. While just offshore, the Iles de Lérins are bucolic islands that tempt celebrity escapees from the Cannes Film Festival. The public ferry there takes 20 minutes. With day trips to arty Vallauris and fragrant Grasse, Cannes makes a fun French Riviera base.
Things to Do
Strolling along glamorous seaside promenade La Croisette is a requisite activity. Follow the celebrity handprints of Allée des Etoiles on the palm-lined La Croisette, climb the medieval slopes of the old town of Le Suquet, or smell the salty breeze as you admire the yachts along the Vieux Port. Forville Market is the place to fill your picnic basket with freshly caught fish, pungent cheeses, and tapenade (olive paste).
Sun worshippers head to sandy private beaches along La Croisette. If you relax with retail therapy, you're in luck: There are designer labels along La Croisette, high-street fashion along the rue d'Antibes, and bargain finds on rue Meynadier. On summer evenings, watch fireworks light up the Bay of Cannes or listen to open-air classical concerts in La Castre museum's courtyard.
Restaurants & Dining
Cannes is the city for spring-to-autumn alfresco dining and coffee drinking in pavement cafes. Try bouillabaisse (fish stew) on Quai Saint Pierre and rue Félix Faure, or sample traditional French cuisine in place du Suquet. For dining on the hoof, grab a filled baguette from rue Meynadier.
Nightlife & Entertainment
From high rollers to celebrity chic, La Croisette's hotel bars and casinos have seen it all. On the streets around rue du Commandant André, you'll find kitten-heeled Cannoises sipping mojitos at cafe-bars. For summertime nightspots where you can ogle the Mediterranean as you boogie until dawn, head for the jutting peninsula of the Pointe Croisette.