While perhaps not so synonymous with jet set stardom and high-society holidaying as its Riviera sister towns at Saint-Tropez and Monte Carlo , the seaside city of Cannes is still home to some seriously big money. First-timers are often shocked by the proliferation of Ferraris that purr their way through the James Bond-esque streets running parallel to the beaches; travelers who find themselves in Cannes in late spring during the build up to the renowned Film Festival, can expect celebrity spotting to rival even the Oscars. That said, festival time can create an air of exclusivity that denies some visitors the true hidden gems of Cannes’ touristic offering, while prices inflate to colossal proportions and bubbling crowds of photo-hungry tourists stream into its tight-knit streets. For a more relaxing and traditionally French experience, consider coming here in the low season, when Le Suquet is airy and open and the Lérins Islands provide spacious seaside getaways.
A truly totemic and towering name in the contemporary cinema scene, the Cannes Film Festival is a date scrawled in bold red pen across the calendar of any film-lover or celeb-spotting enthusiast. Usually held in mid-May, the festival attracts the crème de la crème of worldly actors, directors and artists, while Cannes itself swells (and so does its prices!) into a bubbling mass of party-goers and revellers all pumped on a diet of cutting-edge film.
The promenade of La Croisette is the stamping ground of Porsches and Aston Martins, a patchwork of high-rise regal hotels and glamorous clothing stores that backs onto the wide open beaches of the iconic French Riviera. It’s here that famous fashionistas come to strut their stuff in the sun, and it’s not uncommon to spot actors or rock stars jogging down the 2 kilometre stretch!
The picturesque islands of Lérins, located just 15-minute ride from the center of Cannes, are one of the premier out-of-town excursions in the region. Between the Île Saint-Honorat and the Île Sainte-Marguerite there’s a plethora of cultural pursuits on offer, from wine tasting in the Abbey Lérins to water sports on the Med, while the whole archipelago is wrapped in mystique for its role as the onetime jail of the so-called Man in the Iron Mask.
Visitors can sample simple, authentic and supremely tasty cooking from across the Mediterranean border at the Da Laura Italian restaurant. Rustic starters of prosciutto hams and Parma cheese give way to the chef’s trademark homemade pasta dishes, each oozing with the flavors of Italy, and served in rich, traditional surroundings that resemble more the trattorias of Rome or Venice than they do the bistros of Southern France.
The Grand Hyatt is an awe-inspiring hotel like no other. Located right on the Mediterranean seafront, on the prestigious La Croisette promenade, it’s the choice accommodation for big names and luxury seekers coming to Cannes. Among its many amenities the resort boasts access to a private beach, fully-equipped health and fitness centre and outdoor swimming pool complex, along with a number of top-quality gastronomic establishments.