Big-shot resort, but not as big as Nice
www.cannes-destination.com. If sun, sand, starlets and shopping feature high on your holiday itinerary, Cannes is unlikely to disappoint. ‘Discovered’ by Lord Broughan in 1834, this back-water port was swiftly transformed into one of the big shots of the Riviera. These days, it is twinned with Los Angeles, and synonymous with big-time corporate junketing: the Pridem music festival is held here in January, and The Cannes Film Festival in May.
The focus of the action remains La Croisette, palm tree-lined with floral trimmings, more an event than a street, sandwiched between the Mediterranean and an imposing battalion of very grand palais-hôtels. It is worth the price of a drink at one of the terrace-cafés to enjoy the stream of self-consciousness parading along the front. Then dig out your black belt in shopping and saunter down rue d’Antibes, or check out Chanel, suitably ensconsed at No 5 La Croisette.
If you are absolutely determined to imbibe some culture, the Musée La Castre (www.cannes.com/fr/culture), in the old Le Suquet district, houses archaeological and ethnographic displays. On the swimming and sunning front, you will have to save up: access to the beach directly below the Palais des Festivals costs a ridiculous sum.
A far better idea is to escape to the two little lies des Lérins on a ferry from the Vieux Port. Fifteen minutes across the Golfe de Napoule, lle Sainte-Marguerite is dominated by a 17thC fort where the Man in the Iron Mask is said to have been imprisoned. There are several restaurants by the harbour, including Frédéric, where you can enjoy their special lobster with onions by the water’s edge (a surprisingly delicious combination). Paths lead through the pine woods to rocky bathing places.
Another 15-minute ferry ride brings you to the enchanting Ile Saint-Honorat. A small colony of monks have lived here on and off since the 4thC, and they are the only permanent human presence amidst the pine and eucalyptus, wafts of wild honeysuckle, thyme and rosemary. Bring a picnic and find a secluded spot off the path which circles the island.
Winter sun: Cannes and the Cote d’Azur have some winter sunshine.