Believe it or not there is surprisingly very little to do in the famous posh French Riviera city of Cannes.
Unless you go there in May when the notorious Film Festival takes place, Cannes is a very quiet city with no major historical places of interest, no important museums and not much of an art scene (at least the one we enjoy). There is something that Cannes doesn’t lack though and it is the enormous amount of expensive shops of well known high fashion and all of the usual high street brands.
Cannes didn’t seem to have the necessary requisites that we would generally consider for stopping somewhere for a little while. So why did we decide to stay for a month in a city like Cannes?
After travelling in the cold months through Germany and Switzerland the opportunity of staying still for a month and spending Christmas in a more warmer climate didn’t take much time for us to consider. We didn’t think much about the location itself, we just took the chance with both hands. We were going to housesit and petsit two lovely dogs, finally have a kitchen to ourselves to abuse, and the chance to slow down a little bit after our recent travelling at pace. It seemed like too good of an opportunity to let go.
We had plenty of time to explore Cannes and its surroundings, walking around with and without the dogs and soon realized that we would have never fit in to Cannes’ lifestyle. We liked the idea of being there when the Film Festival wasn’t on, it was kind of ideal because otherwise it would have been too crowded for our tastes, plus I’m personally not interested in fighting to take photos of celebrities, it’s not how I imagine myself spending my time at all. We were really eager to find something interesting to love about Cannes, something very special that would have lasted in our memories every time we heard the name.
A Living Postcard
We were staying in Le Suquet in the old part of town, just a few steps away from the Castle on top of the hill, a very pretty spot indeed and probably the best part of Cannes if you ask me. The lovely narrow winding streets and the tall stairways were incredibly scenic and within seconds we were on top of the hill where the view of the whole city and the sea was breathtaking, but as soon as the sun rose the quiet streets changed. In our opinion this beautiful area in Cannes has lost its original magic because it has been colonised by restaurants, cafes and shops of which the majority sell superfluous items. In fact we liked to walk there late in the evenings with the dogs when most of these businesses were already shut, considering it wasn’t high season they weren’t staying open late.
A High-Living Standard
The sea has always its charm on us both and the one in Cannes wasn’t less so. The best time to walk by the seaside was again early in the morning or late in the afternoon, enjoying the exotic look of the palm trees lined up at the seafront with expensive hotels in the background and the many luxury yachts parked in the old port. I’ve honestly never seen so many expensive boats altogether, something that again was interesting to see whilst also making us feel out of place, we clearly didn’t belong to that life and community.
But we kept trying to find something to like in Cannes, something unique. We visited the covered market of Marché Forville to do some food shopping, found some bits and bobs but again it wasn’t any different from other markets we’ve been to, apart from the amount of fresh oysters on sale due to the time of year it was, in fact, they are quite a Christmas specialty in Cannes and apparently across the whole of France. There was no happy surprise effect at the market either, not for two vegetarians like us at least, which is always a shame.
We walked by the famous Palais des Festivals where the film stars gather for the Cannes Film Festival, but even that looked a bit tacky and not the kind of architecture we would usually stop to admire. I’m sure that it has a completely different effect when it’s all “dressed up” for the Film Festival, but it didn’t really sell itself to us.
No matter how hard we tried our first impression of Cannes didn’t change. It felt like a sleepy city that is probably perfect for those who like to lie in the sun to sunbathe, for people who want to just have a relaxing time, to do some fashionable shopping, or for anyone who has an expensive yacht to showcase in the old port. There is nothing wrong with that at all if that is what makes you happiest, but we found that Cannes didn’t have much else to offer for other kind of travelers like us with a different budget and altogether different kinds of interests, unless we missed it.
In our opinion Cannes lost its old charm of when it was only a small fishing village by turning into a very glamorous and expensive seaside city, just another one on the French Riviera. It just goes to show that you can’t love every place that you travel to, but despite not falling in love with Cannes we enjoyed and made the most of our time there and in the end we found that something special that will definitely make us remember Cannes and our time there – Digsy and Eddie, the two sweet dogs we looked after.
What do you think we missed in Cannes?