Cannes - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Cannes


Today it is hard to imagine that the quintessential, glamorous French Riviera holiday resort of Cannes was for centuries a simple, sleepy fishing village whose only visitors were the monks and wealthy pilgrims who came to visit the monastery on the nearby Island of St Honorat. All this changed in 1834 when Lord Henry Brougham, former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, arrived and established Cannes as a popular upmarket holiday resort for the British upper-classes.

Soon the French and later the Russian aristocracy also flocked to Cannes to while away their summer holidays. Each May the world's media descend in droves for the annual Cannes Film Festival, which draws the international celebrities and super-stars along with the paparazzi and expectant fans hoping to glimpse the rich and famous at the Palais des Festivals. One of the top film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival hosts the premieres of many top studio and independent films.

Hundreds of less exceptional international conferences take place here each year as well, making rooms hard to find and restaurants hard to book for much of the year. Cannes is busy all year long, frequented by hosts of business travellers off-season and besieged by tourists on holiday in the summer, when the long sandy beaches, glitzy nightclubs, chic shops and famous promenade are abuzz with beautiful people flaunting the latest designer wear. Despite the city's pretensions and massive over-development, Cannes is still an international city of charm and good cheer, a great holiday destination.

Information & Facts


There is much to see and do in Cannes. The old town is pleasant for strollilng and sightseeing, and the beaches fantastic for lying in the sun. For the more active, there are a number of watersports available, including sailing and swimming.

Popular attractions in Cannes include the Notre-Dame d'Esperance, the Molinard perfume factory, and the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence. It is also worthwhile to take the trip out to the Îles de Lérins, which boast a monastery and ruins alongside a number of shops, bars and restaurants. There are also options for excursions to nearby Monaco and St Tropez.

French is the official language.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.


Cannes is not a budget holiday destination, with many restaurants, shops and hotels charging exorbitant rates. It can be uncomfortably overcrowded when there is a festival.


The nightlife in Cannes is centred around the casino, like many towns in the Côte d'Azur. The Palm Beach Casino and the Casino Croisette are popular destinations after dark. There are a number of bars and clubs that buzz nightly, however. The Palais Club is both trendy and popular, and Whatnut's Bal-Room plays commercial music. English-speaking venues like Morrison's and The Quay's are popular with expats. There are also anumber of live music venues and theatre performances, but those tend to die down outside of the festivals which draw thousands to this otherwise rather small town's shores.


Restaurants in Cannes are an often ostentatious display of fine dining with a price tag to match. There are a number of popular restaurants along the waterfront and in the district of Le Suquet along the rue Meynadier. These are known for stunning views and good people-watching, if not value for money. There tend to be quieter and more reasonable restaurants along the backstreets. The Michelin-starred La Palme d'Or is a good place to treat yourself, and Roberto's has good Italian fare.


In terms of shopping, Cannes is a luxury destination with top designer shops like Dior, Chanel, and Gucci lining the streets. Bargain-hunters won't come away disappointed, however. Most stores are concentrated between La Croisette and rue d'Antibes. Rue Maynadier has a fun, market-like atmosphere and a few bargains, and the old town is where you'll find the greatest number of tourist shops. The monastery on Ste Honorat also has an interesting shop.

Shopping hours in Cannes run between 10am and 7:30pm, with a roughly two-hour break for lunch at noon in the low season.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

Antibes is a pleasant excursion a few miles east of Cannes. It has one of the best markets on the coast and an excellent Picasso museum in its ancient seafront castle, the 16th-century Château Grimaldi. Picasso was lent a room in the castle to use as a studio in 1946; several extremely prolific months followed before he moved to Vallauris, leaving all his Antibes output to what is now the Musée Picasso. Although Picasso donated other works later, most of the collection dates from this one period, including the best known work, Ulysses and his Sirens. Picasso himself is the subject of some of his paintings. There are also works here by some of Picasso's contemporaries, including Nicholas de Stael. Alongside the castle is a cathedral which dates from Medieval times; only the choir and apse survive from the original Romanesque building, the nave and magnificent facade are Baroque. Nearby is a market which is open every morning over the summer and overflows with local produce.

The two islands of Lerins - Ile St Marguerite and Ile St Honorat lie within a 20-minute boat ride from Cannes. Ile St Honorat is a tiny forested island, the smallest and most southern of the Iles de Lerins. It has been the site of a monastery since the 5th century and today the Cistercian monks are the only inhabitants on the island. Much of the monastery is surprisingly modern, with the exception of the ruins of the 11th-century monastery on the sea's edge. The monks organise tours of the island and try to sell their produce to tourists including homemade wine, honey and lavender oil. The monastery also welcomes visitors for week-long retreats. On the neighbouring Ile St Marguerite is the fortress where the man in the 'iron mask' was imprisoned.

The long, shop-studded promenade of La Croisette, and its seven miles (11km) of beach, is Cannes' major attraction. Palatial hotels line this strip each with their own private beach and this is where you are most likely to spot a familiar face, or topless hopeful, especially during the film festival, though you'll be lucky to see further than the sweating backs of the paparazzi. La Croisette is best viewed from the highest point of Cannes' Old Town, Le Suquet, where the remains of the fortified tower still stand, along with the 12th-century Chapel of St Anne. Le Suquet is a lovely place to stroll, with its winding streets, small boutiques and restaurants. At the end of La Croisette is the Palais des Festivals, whose endless Allées des Stars is imprinted with handprints and signatures of the famous. Just beyond is the atmospheric Vieux Port, with its odd medley of luxury yachts and tiny fishing vessels, and the rows of palm trees and fragrant flower market of the Allées de la Liberté. Further west along the seafront are the free beaches (where the locals go), along the Plages du Midi.

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