Cannes is a seaside resort town in the French Riviera well known for its international film festival that takes place annually in May. During the festival, fans can see actors, celebrities, and directors up close and in person on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. While this seasonal event makes the town a playground for the rich and famous, there are many budget alternatives to enjoy Cannes for rest of the year.
We visited Cannes in October as part of a day trip from Nice. It’s off season but not yet too cold in the Riviera, so ideal time to enjoy Cannes without the summer tourist crowd.
Getting to Cannes (without car) : There are multiple ways to get to Cannes from Nice. If you do not own or rent a car, the easiest way is the Express Bus from Nice airport to Cannes center, leaving every 30-40 mins for a 45min trip. As of 2021 it costs about €33 round-trip. While local bus and the train are cheaper alternatives but may not be ideal for tourists with luggage and may take longer with multiple stops.
Getting to Cannes (with car): Driving to Cannes from Nice has the advantage of being able to explore multiple nearby places in the Riviera. Since we had a rental car during our stay in Mt. Boron (a suburb of Nice) we took this option to reach Cannes. Also it’s a good idea to map to a parking lot near the beach side in Cannes. Google map or similar direction apps should be able to guide you directly to the lot.
A8 is the major highway to Cannes from Nice and other nearby cities and you take the Cannes/Grasse exit. This leads to Boulevard Carnot which can get busy with lot of traffic lights. One way to avoid this congestion is to take the first right after A8 exit. Then, once you are off the main road, get into the right hand lane and stay there until it turns left toward Cannes into N85. Once you reach the city, getting parking near the beach side La Croisette should be easy during off season.
Another way down to the coast (this works for both Cannes and Juan les Pins/Antibes) is to go to Vallauris and descend to the coast on the D135 and then turn right (for Cannes) or left (for Antibes) when you get to the N7. The drive from Cannes to Antibes through coastal Riviera roads is lovely!
Exploring Cannes: A very enjoyable experience in Cannes is the stroll on the seaside catwalk at La Croisette. This goes through public beach parks and on-the-beach restaurants on one side and nice boutique shops and hotels on the other side. Down La Croisette is the famous Palais des Festivals, where stars of the screen gather and watch films screened during the festival. You can pose for a photograph on the 22 steps leading up to the entrance. At the base of the Palais des Festivals is the Les Allées des Étoiles (Walk of Stars) with handprints in concrete of film stars including Meryl Streep, Sylvester Stallone and Gerard Depardieu.
About a km away from beach side is the Old town (Le Suquet) that has narrow winding streets filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. The view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent.
Eateries in Cannes: We enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the beach at L’Alba in La Croisette. There are eateries on both sides of the street, but we preferred the ones on the seaside with option to enjoy a meal on the beach or in covered areas. The restaurants are all easily accessible and many have affordable menus. It maybe a good idea to check reviews and ratings in Google or trip advisor.
Getting Out : The drive back to Nice from the seaside promenade of Cannes is quiet enjoyable. Alternatively you can visit nearby Antibes just 20-25m drive away. Antibes has easily accessible covered parking areas and a very walkable city center as well as the world famous Picasso Museum.