When we think of Cannes, in France, most of us probably think “film festival”. As it turns out, I was in Cannes just days before the film festival. The entire waterfront area along the Promenade seemed to be under construction, building stages for the “red carpet” entrances, erecting structures on the beach and such.
Tourists were still sunbathing on the beach, gambling in the casino, stopping to stare at the handprints of stars in front of the Palais des Festivals, posing with their faces through the cardboard cutouts of Darth Maul and Charlie’s Angels, watching their kids ride the merry-go-round and buying food from street vendors in a traditional boardwalk experience.
Me? I found the coolest spot in Cannes was in “Le Suquet,” an old hill section of town.
If you arrive in the Port of Cannes on a very large cruise ship, as I did, you’ll likely have to take a tender from the ship to shore and then walk a good quarter- to half a mile from the pier into town. Along the way, you’ll pass hotels and sidewalk cafes with inviting tables that include front row views of the marina. Eventually, you will reach an intersection where you can either turn right, past the Hotel de Ville and along the Promenade de la Pantiero to the carnivalesque beach atmosphere of La Croisette. But if you turn left, you will find yourself on charming little winding streets leading up the hill to the Place de la Castre. This is a residential area, so you may see people coming and going with bags of groceries or in other ways just living their lives.
At the top of the hill you’ll find a medieval castle (La Castre), Notre Dame de l’Espérance Church, Musee de La Castre (an anthropology museum featuring artifacts from around the world), and spectacular views of the bay of Cannes. Out of everything I saw in Cannes, this was my favorite spot. Here, I found a tranquil, shaded garden and a soft breeze off the bay, which made it a bit cooler than down in the center of town or along the Promenade. There is a stone wall up here you can climb which offered pretty views of the rooftops of Cannes, and a spectacular view of the bay and marina.
Never fear, the walk up hill is reasonable if you take it at a pace that is comfortable for you. There are also “petite trains”–little white tourist trains—that make the rounds of this area, but I preferred being able to walk around and explore on my own schedule here. With the cooling breeze and views like these, can you blame me?