Before I visited Cannes, I had associated it with the glitz and glamor of the Côte d’Azur; a town frequented by a-jet setting crowd who partied on super size yachts anchored in the marina. I knew it bestowed the Palme D’Ors at its annual Film Festival and Lion Awards at the International Advertising Festival. And so, because I thought I knew enough about Cannes, I didn’t buy a guidebook. I resigned myself to expect the expected, and hoped to be surprised with a delicious French pastry, at the most.
Well, I got what I expected… and more. Our trip to Cannes had coincided with the final preparations for the Film Festival, so Cannes was not only propped up for our arrival, but also charmed us with its French provincial appeal.
Cannes doesn’t even need to seduce you because it is simply too beautiful. The palm-fringed main street along the waterfront, La Croisette, is flanked by the beach and huge waterfront hotels.
Though the Film Festival hadn’t officially started during our visit, the streets pulsed with joie de vivre. People from all over walked around with their ‘media authorised’ neck tags, zoom lens cameras, and notepads; accents filled the air; paparazzi staked the best spots outside the festival’s main venue, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès; hospitality staff set up beach cabanas for private events; and the police tried to control a bunch of Citroens, Renaults, and Peugeots.
I saw a Daniel Craig cutout at the Carlton hotel; Variety magazine’s red carpet at The Grand Hotel; and The Weinstein Company simple branding across a penthouse balcony.
Parallel to La Croisette is the main shopping strip, home to brand name stores such as Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Escada, as well as Zara and Mango.
We boarded a tour train to reach Cannes’ Old Town, La Suquet.
The train wound its way through cobblestones streets filled with family homes, whose balconies were strung with laundry.
Old Town Cannes
The multi level buildings were coloured by yellow, green, and white shutters; iron balconies and rooftop gardens sprouted potted plants. I noticed bars, boulangeries, and linen stores along the way.
The view from the peak of La Suquet is panoramic. It’s up here that you will find the Musee de Castre, housed in a fortified tower and in the Chapel of St Ann, which features an eccentric collection of decorative arts and relics.
I was better off without a guidebook for Cannes as the day unfolded beautifully. And yes, I did enjoy a scrumptious croissant from a patisserie. I also purchased the most beautiful bunch of pink peonies from a Frenchman in a beret. They may have cost 10 Euro but hey, but when in Cannes, you can.