Cannes, land of contrasts.


Côte d'Azur - French RivieraProvenceNature and Outdoor ActivitiesCoastal

© Fabre

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 January 2023

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Although Cannes is a global brand and one of the best known French towns in the world, Cannes still deserves to be better known. This is why the Town is embarking on a campaign to enhance and promote both its cultural heritage and its exceptional surroundings, such as the Lérins islands archipelago and the famous Croisette.

These two remarkable sites illustrate the specific and joyful paradox of Cannes’ identity: being rooted in the Mediterranean yet open to the world.

An application to protect and enhance the heritage of Cannes David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes, Vice-President of the French Department of Alpes-Maritimes, would like to protect and enhance the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage of the town by nominating the Bay of Cannes to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The nomination in-cludes the Lérins islands and La Croisette as a site of outstanding value that is unique in the world for both its natural surroundings and its cultural characteristics. Together they retrace more than 2,300 years of history.

Inhabited since ancient times, the islands of St Marguerite and St Honorat have preserved the cultural vestiges of the many humans who lived there and is the source of real and imagined stories, such as the mystery of the Iron mask or the ‘Smala d’Abd el-Kader’ epic poem.The presence of the Cistercians monks from the Congregation of Cistercians of the Immaculate Conception within the archipelago made it a focal point for spirituality in the Mediterranean. The monastery, which is still functioning, is one of the oldest centres of monastic life in western Christianity. To round off the application’s cultural merits, the site nominated for inclusion in the Unesco World Heritage sites includes La Croisette, the legendary international cultural, commercial and leisure centre. Each year La Croisette hosts the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, the world’s leading cultural event, along with different international events such as the International Festival of Creativity - Lions Cannes, the Tax Free World Exhibition, a luxury goods trade show, MIP TV, MIPCOM as well as MIDEM.

The seafront architecture and the palace hotels, so typical of the Boulevard de la Croisette, provide an astonishing dialectic with the changeless seascape of the Lérins archipelago, on the opposite site of the bay.This powerful contrast between the peaceful island landscapes and the hustle and bustle of a town that thrives on international dialogue is no doubt one of the strongest features of Cannes’ application.

THE LERINS ISLANDS, AN OUTSTANDING SITE A jewel in the crown of Cannes, the Lérins islands offer visitors with a complete change of scen-ery and are a sheer delight for those that love nature, calm & relaxation, history & heritage, not to mention mysteries & legends.Lying opposite the Bay of Cannes, 700 metres from the tip of La Croisette, this small archipelago comprises the two islands of St Marguerite and St Honorat, surrounded by islets and reefs, and separated by a narrow channel (Le Frioul), which offers an idyllic anchorage for passing yachts-men.Easily accessible from the mainland, the Lérins islands are the favourite destination of the Az-urians* and welcome some 300,000 visitors from around the world each year. The expanses of crystal clear water and the local flora insulate walkers and monks of Lérins from the hustle and bustle of the French Riviera. The Lérins islands have cultivated their isolation since time imme-morial. The insular nature of the site has always been prised for seclusion it affords for spiritual, military, penal purposes or more recently for sheer personal pleasure.

LA CROIX-DES-GARDES, THE GREEN BELT AROUND CANNES The natural forest reserve of Croix des Gardes is classified and a sensitive natural environment. The 80 hectares of forest, mainly owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral, are ecologically man-aged by the forest rangers employed by Cannes Town Council, which has built 20 km of foot-paths, a health trail and six viewpoints offering 360-degree panoramic views. In the midst of a thousand fragrances, many trails lead to the top of the hill where a huge cross now stands, cre-ated in 1990 by the artist Jean-Yves Lechevallier.

LA CROISETTE, LEGENDARY BOULEVARD The boulevard de la Croisette is famous around the world as the focal point for cinema, excel-lent hotels and luxury goods. But much more than that, it is the symbol of creativity and culture.La Croisette is a boulevard that stretches along the bay of Cannes and has a large pedestrian promenade, shaded by the pine trees that line the sandy beach.Built in the 1850s along the old coastal road called the ‘chemin de la petite croix’, it is known throughout the world for being home to the Cannes Festival and the famous red steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Several luxury hotels are located on La Croisette, along with the leading luxury and fashion brands.Despite looking and sounding like a French word, the origins of the name for this prestigious promenade, come naturally from the Provençal word crouseto, which means ‘little cross’.

A lengthy construction project The fabulous destiny of this legendary boulevard took a long time to decide. It took root in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1834 Lord Brougham, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, set off on a grand tour of Italy.He stopped on the west bank of the river Var, which at the time was the border between France and the County of Nice, part of the House of Savoie. A cholera epidemic has caused Nice to re-fuse entry to any foreigner. The Englishman therefore turned around and as luck would have it, set up his base in Cannes. Love at first sight!He raved so much about the charms of the place that very quickly his fellow countrymen flocked there to enjoy the mild Cannes winter. Beautiful houses began popping up in every corner of the town, which every year forget its origins as a modest fishing village a little bit more.For the rich holiday makers, Cannes had just one fault: it had no promenade along the sea front. The town council therefore decided to solve this problem. With sparse available resources: in 1846 it authorised Girard, the local soap manufacturer, to deposit its manufacturing waste along the sea, thereby hoping to prepare the future thoroughfare for as little money as possible. Things dragged on like this for years. It took 14 years before the people of Cannes could gather enough resources to match their ambitions.That year, the company Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (PLM) began building the railway which would link Cannes with Toulon. It offered to the town council to recover some of the rubble in order to build a sea front worthy of its name. The deal was struck and three years later, the first road was opened.

Endless beginnings This new road was named ‘chemin de la Croisette’, a name taken from the Provençal word "crouseto".It evoked a small cross that had long been venerated by the people of Cannes, erected in the Middle Ages, right at the end of the bay of Cannes, opposite the Lérins islands, to defy the Sara-cens and other invaders.In 1866, the pace picked up. The first private beach in Cannes was created, a dozen palm trees were planted, benches were installed and gas lighting catapulted the seafront to the centre of local life. Like many French road arteries at that time, the Croisette was renamed ‘Boulevard de l’Impératrice’. It would return to the original name at the beginning of 1871, under the Third Republic! It still took more than twenty years of effort, the construction of an artificial beach and the arrival of the first pavements before La Croisette to finally become this long and beauti-ful curve that now lazily sweeps round the bay of Cannes.Although its layout has since remained unchanged, its appearance continued to change with subsequent major works programmes: the construction of the Albert-Edouard pier (1902), the Municipal Casino (1907), Belle Epoque and Art Deco luxury hotels - starting with the most fa-mous of them all, the Carlton, or the former Palais des Festivals (1947) ... La Croisette therefore welcomed some of the most illustrious figures of the Twentieth century. Its image would soon be seen around the world and the popularity of television would only amplify the phenomenon. Such was its success that it had to be constantly expanded. A new Palais was therefore built in 1982. Very quickly, an extension was added. A new project is even currently being planned. It is clear that La Croisette has still got plenty to give!

THE ULTIMATE IN LUXURY AND 5-STAR HOTELS Cannes is a pre-eminent international tourist destination, which has developed a strong cosmo-politan character over recent decades. This is partly due to its exceptional natural environment, but the long tradition of hospitality has also played a role. It has long combined professional excellence with technical infrastructure to make the town a reliable and attractive destination. From the natural beauty of the site, to the full range accommodation categories, including luxury hotels; to the Old Port, the famous Croisette, the old town with an Italian flavour, the rue d’Antibes, where luxury rub shoulders with elegance: all combine to make Cannes an incomparable experience. The town's attractiveness is enduring because of the drive, excellence and motivation of everyone in the hospitality sector.

Since it was founded in 1926, the 5-star Majestic Barrière Hotel has never stopped developing. From Henri Ruhl to Lucien Bar-rière, in more than 80 years of existence, the Majestic has yet to take on its final form. Théo Petit originally designed a central building with two wings extending right onto La Croisette. Only one wing was ever built. 80 years later, in 2007 the construction of the western wing began. 349 rooms including 82 suites and 2 penthouses.

Without Cannes, the 5-star Intercontinental Carlton would never have existed. But without the Carlton, would Cannes be what it is today? This relationship, begun more than a century ago, makes it the luxury hotel that is the closest to the spirit of Cannes. A centenarian witness to the true art of travel, a guardi-an of all that is best in hospitality traditions. 304 rooms, 39 suites.

Built on the seafront, on the famous Croisette, the 5-star Grand Hyatt Martinez has an Art Deco style which makes it impervious to fashion trends, while lending it both an air of true nobility and eternal youth. Over 7 floors, with a phenomenal floor area span-ning some 40,000 sq. m. given over to hospitality, it is one of the most prestigious luxury hotels in the world. 409 rooms, 39 suites.

The 5-star JW Marriott hotel on the Croisette has invested €38 million in renovating its 261 rooms and suites, as well as the lobby, restaurant and meeting rooms. It has an outdoor swim-ming pool and 2 jacuzzis on the panoramic roof terrace, an 825-seat auditorium, 1,200 sq m of modular conference rooms and a casino.

The former legendary hotel on la Croisette, built in 1863, at the same time as the Croisette itself, was for many years the first and only Luxury hotel in Cannes. Demolished and rebuilt in 1963 the 5-star Grand Hotel has 75 rooms including a floor of suites. It is the only one to have a garden planted with palm trees.

The Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel, Thalasso & Spa, is immensely proud to display a fifth star on its flag. Symbolising the magic of Cannes, with its magnificent surroundings and refinement, the establishment glitters with a new radiance, now that it has joined the prestigious club of 5-star hotels.

LE SUQUET, AN AUTHENTIC SOUL Despite its success, Cannes has always stayed true to its roots. It blends the nobility of its old stones steeped in history, with its picturesque Mediterranean surroundings. Cannes is a fash-ionable tourist destination, much appreciated by the good and the great of this world, yet it has something more that makes it unique: It has a soul, a history. The town’s history stretches back more than a thousand years. Many of its memories have managed to be preserved intact. In 1915, it was given the status as a station climatique (a resort renowned for its air quality and health benefits) by Ministerial decree.

Scenes from everyday life A few fragments from everyday life in Cannes. A ‘pointu’ (a traditional fishing boat with a point-ed bow) enters the port. A market stall in Forville. An alley in Suquet. A game of petanque on the place de l‘Etang, a stone's throw from the chic apartment houses of la Croisette, where Jean Yanne, Henri Salvador or Eddie Barclay liked to test their mettle against seasoned ‘boulistes’. Amongst these fragments, there are also architectural treasures. Precious, medieval or Belle Epoque stones. Some glisten with ostentation: the luxury hotels of the Croisette, the Fort Royal in St Marguerite, the Lérins abbey on the island of St Honorat, the Square tower in Le Suquet, the Russian church at the entrance to La Californie. Others only reveal their sparkle to those who do more than just visit the town: to those who get under its skin. Yes, in Cannes, you have to have an open mind, as you stroll around, then look, smell, feel and imagine what life was like in times gone by, when we feared the Saracens, fought the Spaniards, succumbed to the charms of the Belle Otéro; or when we had a crush on an adorable starlet.

The last professional fishermen Before Lord Brougham and the English aristocracy turned it into a famous coastal resort, Cannes was a fishing village. And it still is! Two hundred years after the creation of the Prud’hommie de pêche de Cannes, (the employers’ association and court for the fishing industry) twenty local fishermen are continuing the tradition, by dropping the lobster pots, nets, light attractors and longlines between the waters of the Golfe-Juan and the mouth of the Var. Their famous pointu, the pointed-bow boats, so typical of this part of the Mediterranean, are moored in the harbours of Mouré-Rouge, Pointe Croisière, on the Quai Pantiero and in the Old Harbour. Is there a more charming contrast between these picturesque wooden boats and the ultra modern motor yachts of millionaires?Each morning, from Tuesday to Sunday, the Cannes fishermen sell their catch on market stands in Forville, the most popular market in town. Here, great chefs and simple foodies come to snap up the sea bass, red mullet, sea bream and other scorpion fish.


On the shoreline of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, between the Esterel moun-tains and the Lérins islands, the beaches of CANNES beckon visitors with more than seven kil-ometres of fine sand.The Cannes shoreline is one of the most popular stretches of coast along the Côte d’Azur. This appeal can also be explained by the restaurants and wide diversity of facilities and events on offer.Eleven of the beaches in Cannes, selected from among thirteen public beaches, two run by local authorities and thirty-three private beaches, have been awarded the ‘Pavillon bleu’ label; while one, Bijou Plage, - has the ‘tourism and handicap’ label. There are also non smoking beaches and child-safe beaches to round off the town council's programmes.To improve access to the Cannes coast, a construction project has been launched in the west part of the town: dubbed ‘Boccacabana’, it plans to reorganise parking facilities, widen pave-ments to encourage open air sporting and leisure activities, landscape the sea front, extend the cycling lanes, create an aesthetic access route to the shoreline from Cannes La Bocca and build rock groynes to protect and expand the beaches.



Cannes built is fame by developing an unrivalled expertise and excellent infrastructure to make it a competitive venue, favoured by the biggest international events. While Cannes owes most of its fame to the Film Festival, it also hosts major events such as congress’, trade shows and professional markets, (MIPIM, MIPCOM, MIPTV, MIDEM, TAX FREE WORLD EXHIBITION, CANNES LIONS, ILTM, etc.).

The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, the economic powerhouse of the town, is the biggest Congress centre on the French Riviera, with over 80,000 sq. m. of floor space, 26 auditoriums, meeting and reception rooms not to mention the panoramic terraces. After three consecutive years of work, the Palais des Festivals has completed its metamorphosis and has now unveiled a centre that is stunningly beautiful, with refined contemporary lines. This metamorphosis has considerably improved the style and technical facilities of the Palais, boosting the centre’s competitivity.

- The famous steps have been given a new look with a white marble coating. - The layout of the 23 Organiser’s offices are now more transparent, bright, accessible and now provide real thermal and acoustic comfort. - The Glass roof of the Grand Auditorium has been enlarged, the colours, materials and lighting have been redesigned. - The entrance hall is more up-to-date and spacious - The double spiral staircase introduces a sculptural design. - The Salon Croisette is stunning new multi-functional reception room with panoramic views

An accessible, attractive and aesthetic cultural centre

- A top cultural and event venue at the cutting edge technology, the Louis Lumière Grand Auditorium has been given a new makeover that has redesigned the colour theme, materials and lighting. - 2,300 seats have been installed, the new seat design is unique, specifically designed for the theatre, with the back curving gently backwards, evoking the sea. - 9 small reception rooms have been renovated and given a stylish modern feel.

This modernisation and renovation are vital if Cannes is to develop its attractiveness and inter-national reach, along with increasing the sustainability of traditional, iconic events, so necessary for employment, the local economy and the town’s international identity. While investments are key in maintaining a competitive, high profile facility, they are also vital in delivering service quality and retaining the trust of event organisers.

A new Palais by 2019 The role and economic impact of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès have been amply demonstrated. Armed with this knowledge, the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard has presented a new plan to build an extension to anticipate the growing needs of event organisers and further enhance its attractiveness and competitiveness. By 2019, conference delegates, culture buffs and the inhabitants of Cannes will have a new cen-tre that will be even more impressive.

This expansion includes: - A 500-seat screening room at the cutting edge of technology, - An exhibition hall, - A concert and gala hall with a capacity of 1,500 people when standing, which will also be used to replace the temporary hall erected each year during the Cannes Festival at a cost of 650,000 euros per year. - The Salon des Ambassadeurs and the Rue Intérieure will be included in the renovation and interior decoration (floor, wall and ceiling coverings, lighting, etc.).

The total cost of this project is estimated at 27 million euros. The Cannes Town Council will fund the works, and will be refunded from the centre's operations.


Since 2009, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès has strengthened its commitment to sustainable development, by activating the ISO certifications 9001 and 14001, the OHSAS 18001 certifi-cation and the ISO 26000 assessment. These have notably resulted in sustainable HEQ certified projects, which aim to manage environmental impact: waste recycling, preventing pollution, reducing nuisance, relationships with local residents, etc.

As the largest trade-show destination in France, after Paris, the events at the Palais des Festivals generates more than 840 million euros in total economic impact and generate more than 17,000 jobs per year.

Each year its welcomes more than: - 275 000 Conference delegates - 55 trade events (B2B) - 120 concerts - 90,000 concert goers


A business airport After Paris-Le Bourget, it is the largest business airport in France with 68 867 aircraft movements in 2013; 9,873 passengers in 2013. 4 helicopter companies and 4 business airlines are based here. Cannes is located 25 kilometres from the international airport of Nice Côte d'Azur, France’s second largest airport after the airports around Paris. It is the town of festivals and major trade shows, a shoppers’ paradise, the capital of the 7th Art (cinema) and a tourist destination with an exceptional tourist infrastructure.

A high speed train station Today, Cannes railway station welcomes almost 3.8 million travellers per year. This figure should exceed 6 million travellers within this decade. At the centre of the town, the aim of the train station transformation project is to provide quality services for travellers so that each transport mode will be more easily and quickly accessible. However, it is much more than a railway station project: the whole neighbourhood is affected by the works programme. The 5-star OKKO Hotel has arrived on the station forecourt with 125 rooms and a 2,400 sq. m. shopping centre has opened, increasing the appeal of the area.

A top-class reputation 2nd largest destination for international trade shows in France, with more than 257,900 delegates and visitors in 2014. Cannes is the preferred destination of residents of the French Riviera and the best know French town internationally, after Paris. Airbnb, the accommodation rental site has ranked Cannes second for French towns and cities providing the best levels of hospitality last summer. Cannes has been ranked in the Top 10 of French destinations by TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice ™ 2015.

CANNES IN FIGURES - 73,903 INHABITANTS (200,000 IN SEASON AND DURING THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL) - 2 MILLION VISITORS per year - 120 HOTELS with a capacity of more than 5,500 rooms, including 6 5-star hotels, 32 four-star hotels, 28 three-star hotels plus 32 apartment hotels. - 500 restaurants and cafés - 33 PRIVATE BEACHES, each with their own restaurant and 2 beaches run by the town council. - 8 KILOMETRES OF SANDY BEACHES - 3 CASINOS - 20 PIANO BARS AND DISCOS - 5 HARBOURS: Canto harbour, Moure Rouge harbour, Pointe Croisette harbour, Saint-Honorat harbour and the Old Harbour - 2,749 SHOPS - A PALAIS DES FESTIVALS ET DES CONGRES: Designed by the architects Bennet & Druet and inaugu-rated at the end of 1982, providing 80,000 sq. m. of exhibitions, concert and event space. - CANNES FILM FESTIVAL - 21 FESTIVALS - 9 INTERNATIONAL CONGRESSES (MIPIM, MIPTV, Cannes Lions, MIDEM, Cannes Yachting Festival MIPCOM, TAXFREE, MAPIC, Mare di Moda, ILTM) More information.


- FEBRUARY The International Games FestivalCannes Semi-marathon


- APRIL Cannes Shopping Festival MIPTV

- MAY Cannes Film Festival Cannes International Triathlon

- JUNE Performance D’Acteur Cannes International Show-Jumping Festival of Advertising Films and Creativity / Cannes Lions MIDEM Triathlon of the seas

- JULY Fable Lab Festival of Pyrotechnical Arts Nuits Musicales Du Suquet Festival of Chinese Art Azerbaijan Cultural Festival Ephemeral Museum of Cinema Fiesta Flamenca

- AUGUST Jazz At Domergue Festival of Pyrotechnical Arts Pantiero Festival Electronic beaches Festival of Russian Art Ephemeral Museum of Cinema

- SEPTEMBER Cannes Yachting Festival Golf Week Royal Regatta

- OCTOBER Cannes wine harvest MIPCOM Tax Free World Exhibition

- NOVEMBER MAPIC Mare di Moda Nice Cannes Marathon

- DECEMBER Cannes Film Talks ILTM


Elisabeth Lara Phone: +33 (4) 92 99 84 46

Karin Osmuk Phone: +33 (4) 92 99 31 62

Blandine Dugenetay Phone: +33 (4) 92 99 84 45


The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…