They say a lot can change in a year, and it has. Two years actually. My last blog post was written in New Zealand and this one is written in France. The whole world has experienced a pandemic and all our lives have been influenced by it. This holiday was a return to normal with some minor changes, we could travel and enjoy the sea and beaches, we could eat at restaurants, visit markets and entertain friends .
Life in France is very different to life in New Zealand, it has its challenges but also its rewards, like the French Riviera.
Cannes is known for its glamourous film festival where it has welcomed the world’s biggest film stars, but we have discovered much more to this modern, cosmopolitan city on our recent Summer vacation.
We love “la Croisette” – a long luxurious walk next to the sea, we brought along our scooters and loved scooting past the famous Carlton, Martinez and Majestic hotels while watching all the people in the late afternoon sun. The ice cream vendors dotted on the Croisette are the perfect places to stop and enjoy generous scoops of Gelato (pistachio for me, please). We easily scooted 6km along the Croisette to Palm Beach and back a few evenings while oogling over the many luxurious super yachts moored at either end .
The hill of Le Suquet is where you can admire the views of the city and bay of Cannes. Le Suquet dates back to Roman times and is the oldest neighbourhood in Cannes with its cobbled lanes lined with local smaller restaurants.
Marche Forville, a traditional French covered market was such a highlight for me! The historic heart of Cannes. Forget buying anything from a supermarket while you are in Cannes- this market has the best quality produce from local farmers. Nina walked away with packets full of the tastiest olives and freshest peaches, but you can also buy seasonal produce, local fish, handmade pastas, teas, herbs, spices, dried meats and flowers. Its located at 6 Rue du Marché Forville. Open Tuesdays – Sundays 7h-12h30.
Sainte-Marguerite and Saint Honorat were the two islands we visited, both a short boat ride from Cannes. Sainte-Marguerite is a classified biological reserve island, about 3 kms in length and 900m wide, with 20km of forest trails and paths and plenty of coves and beaches to get your tan on . There are also two restaurants, La Guérite and L’Escale. Fort Royal is a maritime museum, which was a state prison during the late 17th century. It was home to the man in the iron mask – a mysterious man whose identity remains unknown. We visited the museum and found a sandy beach area where we spent the rest of the day in the turquoise water, eating watermelon and perfecting our ‘bat and ball’ skills.
Saint Honorat has been home to the monks of Lérins Abbey for the last sixteen centuries. Their monastic life respects the rule of Saint Benedict, based on prayer and work. The monks produce organic wine and liqueurs on their 8 hectare vineyard, planted with white and red grape varieties. Currently there are 21 monks making up the community and we were fortunate to see and hear them chanting a mass in the Abbaye de Lérins. The island instills a calm and beauty with its natural and cultural heritage.
We stayed in an apartment two blocks from the beach in Cannes. Booking an apartment in Cannes, I would recommend looking for something within walking distance to the beach and with pre-booked parking nearby. You do not want to spend your time trying to find parking near your accommodation if you have ventured out for the day. If you pre-book parking it is also at a reduced rate and you receive a parking card for multiple entries and exits.
We walked everywhere and quickly found our favourite bakery – Les Palais des Pains, corner Rue des Serbes and Rue Jean Jaurès. Supermarket Mon’op is open everyday and great for anything you would need during your stay.
Rue D’Antibes and the streets leading off are your shopping streets- Haute Couture like Chanel, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton and international chains like Zara and Gap.
There are many beaches along the Croisette, public and private. If you want a chilled glass of Rosé served by a waiter while reclining on your lounger, opt for the private beaches, Majestic Private Beach or Le Goeland.
There are over 600 restaurants listed in Cannes, so you will not be short of choice, I would advise an Old Town little restaurant to soak up the historic atmosphere, we had fabulous pizza and pasta at Tredici, 13 rue Louis Perissol, Suquet. The outdoor seating runs along the road with fun mis-matched chairs and décor. Open every day from 7pm. There is also a tourist train that you can catch from the croisette to the restaurant .
There are many beach restaurants where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch and dinner – Mademoiselle Gray, Plage du Martinez, Miramar Plage and Rado Beach. Also recommended was La Potiniere.
There are so many bars, you are guaranteed to find one you like from people-watching bars to hip hotel bars on the top floor.
We also visited Vallauris, where Picasso lived from 1948-1955. Picasso chose to live and work on the French Riviera after WWII, Antibes, Cannes, Mougins and Vallauris being his favourite places . Vallauris known for its pottery industry caught his attention and he experimented with ceramics there . ‘The Mystery of Picasso‘ is a French documentary film, directed Henri-Georges Clouzot, won the Special Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film festival, filmed during this time of his life.
There is so much to experience in Cannes. Easy day trip excursions to the 2 islands and also trips to Nice, St-Tropez and Monaco. I would love to do a daytrip sailing the local bays, snorkeling and lazing aboard a catamaran, hopefully on our next trip.