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Far and away, Cannes’ most famous street is the promenade de la Croisette—or simply La Croisette—which curves along the coast. It’s lined by grand hotels (some dating from the 19th c.), boutiques, and exclusive beach clubs. It’s also home to temporary exhibition space La Malmaison, 47 La Croisette (tel. 04-97-06-44-90), which holds three major modern art shows each year. It’s open daily July to August 11am to 8pm (Friday until 9pm), September 10am to 7pm, and October to April Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 1pm and 2 to 6pm. Admission is 3.50€, 2.50€ for ages 18–25, and free for children under 17. Above the harbor, the Old Town of Cannes sits on Suquet Hill, where visitors can climb the 14th-century Tour de Suquet.

Organized Tours

One of the best ways to get your bearings in Cannes is to climb aboard the Petit Train touristique de Cannes (www.cannes-petit-train.com; tel. 06-22-61-25-76). The vehicles operate every day from 9 or 10am to between 7 and 11pm, depending on the season. Three itineraries are offered: Modern Cannes, with a ride along La Croisette and its side streets (35 min.); Historical Cannes, which weaves through the narrow streets of Le Suquet (35 min.); or the Big Tour, a combination of the two (1 hr.). All trains depart from outside the Palais des Festivals every 30 to 60 minutes. Shorter tours cost 7€ for adults and 3€ for children aged 3 to 10; the Big Tour costs 10€ for adults and 5€ for children aged 3 to 10.

Day Trips from Cannes

Îles de Lérins

Short boat ride from Cannes

Floating in the Mediterranean just south of Cannes’ southern horizon, the Lérins Islands are an idyllic place to escape the Riviera’s summertime commotion. Head for Cannes port’s western quai Laubeuf, where ferryboats operated by Trans-Côte d’Azur (www.trans-cote-azur.com; tel. 04-92-98-71-30) offer access to Île Ste-Marguerite. To visit Île St-Honorat, head for the same quay, to the Transports Planaria (www.cannes-ilesdelerins.com; tel. 04-92-98-71-38) ferryboats. Both companies offer frequent service to the islands at intervals of between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the season, and operate daily and year-round. Round-trip transport to Île Ste-Marguerite costs 13€ per adult and 8€ for children 5 to 10; round-trip transport to Île St-Honorat costs 15.50€ per adult and 7.50€ for children 5 to 10 (although discount tickets 1€ to 1.50€ cheaper are often available if you book in advance online). Travel to both islands is free for children 4 and under. As dining options on the islands are limited, pack up a picnic lunch from Cannes’ Marché Forville before you set off.

Exploring Île Ste-Marguerite

Île Ste-Marguerite is one big botanical garden—cars, cigarettes, and all other pollutants are banned—ringed by crystal-clear sea. From the dock, you can stroll along the island to Fort Royal, built by Spanish troops in 1637 and used as a military barracks and parade ground until World War II. The infamous “Man in the Iron Mask” was allegedly imprisoned here, and you can follow the legend back to his horribly spooky cell.

Musée de la Mer, Fort Royal (tel. 04-93-38-55-26), traces the history of the island, displaying artifacts of Ligurian, Roman, and Arab civilizations, plus the remains discovered by excavations, including paintings, mosaics, and ancient pottery. The museum is open June to September daily from 10am to 5:45pm, and Tuesday to Sunday October to May 10:30am to 1:15pm and 2:15 to 4:45pm (closing at 5:45pm April–May). Admission is 6€, 3€ for visitors 25 and under, and free for children 17 and under.

Exploring Île St-Honorat

Only 1.6km (1 mile) long, the Île St-Honorat is much quieter than neighboring Ste-Marguerite. But in historical terms, it’s much richer than its island sibling and is the site of a monastery whose origins date from the 5th century. The Abbaye de St-Honorat (www.abbayedelerins.com; tel. 04-92-99-54-00) is a combination of medieval ruins and early-20th-century ecclesiastical buildings, and is home to a community of about 25 Cistercian monks. Most visitors content themselves with a wander through the pine forests on the island’s western side, a clamber around the ruined monastery on the island’s southern edge, and a bathe on its seaweed-strewn beaches.

The monks also transform the island’s herbs, vines, and honey into a wealth of organic products, including lavender oil and wine. All can be purchased in the monastery shop. There is also an excellent lunch-only seafood restaurant, La Tonnelle (www.tonnelle-abbayedelerins.com; tel. 04-92-99-54-08). It’s closed from November to mid-December. And no, it’s not the monks who cook, but they can organize a wine-tasting or small island tour if arranged in advance.

Vallauris

7km (4 1/2 miles) NE of Cannes

Once simply a stopover along the Riviera, Vallauris’s ceramics industry was in terminal decline until it was “discovered” by Picasso just after World War II. The artist’s legacy lives on both in snapshots of the master in local galleries and in his awesome “La Paix et La Guerre” fresco.

Essentials

Envibus bus (www.envibus.fr; tel. 04-89-87-72-00) connects Cannes’ train station with Vallauris every 30 minutes (journey time 20 min.). Tickets cost 1€ each way. There’s an Office de Tourisme (www.vallauris-golfe-juan.fr) on square du 8 Mai 1945 (tel. 04-93-63-82-58).

Exploring Vallauris

 

In Vallauris, Picasso’s “l’Homme au Mouton” (“Man and Sheep”) is the outdoor statue at place Paul Isnard in front of which Prince Aly Kahn and screen goddess Rita Hayworth were married. The local council had intended to enclose this statue in a museum, but Picasso insisted that it remain on the square, “where the children could climb over it and dogs piss against it.”

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.