A trip to Cannes, whether for the film festival or simply a respite dose of French Riviera chic, guarantees its revellers endless hours spent savouring Michelin-starred gourmet cuisine, ordering bottle after bottle of ubiquitous Provencal rosé, perusing the designer boutiques and sun soaking at one of the city's style ridden beach clubs. And while Cannes' much revered and well-trodden A-list trail will keep you more than content, Luxos also uncovers some of the city's lesser known treasures...
Eating & drinking
With traditional dishes such as Confit de Canard and Bouillabaisse on the menu and plenty of Michelin stars studding the city's culinary map, gourmet dining in Cannes goes without saying.
Cannes institutions such as The Hôtel Martinez' two Michelin-star La Palme d'Or and the restaurant at the Colombe d'Or Hotel (once frequented by Matisse, Miró and Picasso) are ever as popular with the celebrity set, but for something a little off the beaten track, book a table at La Mère Besson. Tucked away down a side street off La Croisette (Cannes' main seafront boulevard), this tiny restaurant has been serving the city's style and food connoisseurs since the 30s.
Restaurant Palme d'Or © Jerome Kelagopian
Amongst the Old Town's abundance of touristy restaurant traps are two gems, Le Mesclun, on the narrow Rue Saint Antoine, serving delicious Med-fresh fish and hearty Provencal meat dishes (try and bag one of the 'people watching' tables on the terrace), and Chez Vincent & Nicolas at the foot of Le Suquet (the Old Town) which serves simple yet sophisticated French cuisine in a chic yet laid back style.
© le Mesclun/Facebook
If you want to experience Cannes' sandy beaches in true A-list fashion, the only way is to bedeck yourself in a tiny bikini and while away the daylight hours on a sun lounger at one of La Croisette's many private beaches, with icy cold cocktails delivered at the press of a button. Our pick – Z Plage for its super cool sun lounger jetty and superb beach restaurant complete with hard to find in Cannes, veggie friendly dishes, La Plage du Festival which serves super standard food direct to the beach as well as Pina Coladas to compete with the tropics and C Beach, who do a half day beach option for those on a tight schedule.
© La Plage du Festival
La Croisette's beach clubs are the place to be at sunset, but once the sun goes down and you have won big at one of Cannes' three casinos, join the French style set at the exclusive Le Baoli and dance the night away (if you can make it past the strict doormen that is). Le Carré-d'Or as it is known (Golden Square) between La Croisette and Rue d'Antibes, is bursting with after dark frolickers thanks to the area's back to back restaurants, bars and clubs. For a more laidback lounge vibe head to Zoa for sushi, dancing and DJs until 2am or for al fresco elegance, soak up the all-encompassing luxury and views of the bay of Cannes at the Radisson Blu's rooftop terrace, Le 360.
Z-nights summer performance © Jerome Kelagopian
Swanky is an understatement when it comes to the Cannes shopping scene. The usual designer suspects, Chanel, Celine, Hermès and gang, can be found on La Croisette while Rue d'Antibes is home to more affordable chic French brands such as Tara Jarmon, Zadig & Voltaire, Satellite (for jewellery) and multi-brand designer boutique Trabaud. You will find Galeries Lafayette just off Rue d'Antibes. At the other end of the spectrum Forville Market (walk up Rue Gazagnaire opposite the bus station) is a fab local produce market perfect for stocking up on picnic goodies, stinky French cheeses, olive oil and fresh fruit, veg and flowers (take a pit stop with a glass of champagne and some oysters too). Rue Meynadier near the market is also worth a visit for its quirky boutiques.
Out & about
As well as a stroll down the bustling La Croisette, the narrow streets of Le Suquet (the old town) and their bars, restaurants and shops which wind their way up to the top of the hill to the 12th century church and La Castre Museum, as well as the Vieux Port (old port) opposite Palais des Festivals are worth a visit. There are several art galleries in Cannes, namely the Centre d'Art La Malmaison on La Croisette as well as various galleries on Rue d'Antibes, but a trip to Villa Dormergue - a house and gardens designed by artist Jean-Gabriel Dormegue who is claimed to be the inventor of the pin-up is a must. If you are in town in August, there is also a jazz festival in the grounds.
A boat trip to one of the two local islands Iles de Lérins – St. Honorat and the larger of the two, Ste. Marguerite, which are both inhabited by monks and boast gorgeous little beach coves make for a picture-perfect break from the glitz and glam of the city. Or for the ultimate in sophisticated sightseeing, why not charter your very own plane for an hour flight over Cannes and surrounding Cap d'Antibes, St Tropez, Monaco and the Alpes with Riviera Authentic.
© Iles de Lérins © sailingtheweb
A day trip to nearby Grasse (30 mins drive) will serve those hedonistic pleasures. Make your way to Bastide St Antoine, home to Michelin-starred chef Jacques Chibois and the perfect spot for a lazy Provencal lunch overlooking Cannes before indulging in a rejuvenating massage at the hotel's spa. Before heading back to the city buzz, stop off at Fragonard – the home of French Perfumeries and walk away with your own tailor-made scent.