Port Review: Cannes, France

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It’s one of France’s most famous and glamorous resort towns, often dubbed the “star” of the French Riviera, and first time cruise visitors to Cannes will quickly discover its many charms.


Besides being famous for a world-renowned film festival and miles of sandy Mediterranean beaches, Cannes also has an impressive lineup of museums, art galleries and botanical gardens designed to woo and wow visitors. Along with being an attractive town with a slew of traditional hotels, and a small historic centre, this beach city also has plenty of natural beauty, from its large harbour packed with liner-sized yachts, to the clutch of islands just off the coast.

The Facts

Location: The South of France on the Côte d’Azur/French Riviera.

Language: French, but many people in shops and restaurants speak English.

Currency: Euro.

Docking/Anchoring: Some smaller ships can dock, but most have to anchor and use tenders to transport guests to a quay in the Vieux Port close to town, which also handles local ferries.  

Transport: You can walk to town on foot, however, taxis are always available and there is a trolley service across which departs from The Majestic Hotel. If you wish to venture even further afield, to Nice or Monaco, the railway station is a five-minute walk.

Don't Miss

Cannes is easily explored on foot and west of the Vieux Port you’ll find the oldest part of town, Le Suquet. It’s a charming area of around a dozen narrow streets, filled with small shops, restaurants and cafés, and overlooking the town.

The Musée de la Castre is located in the remains of a twelfth century castle in Le Suquet, showcasing Oriental art along with a collection of 19th century paintings of the local area. 

Notre Dame d’Esperance is tucked away in old quarter of Le Suquet, a 17th century gothic church and well worth a look. Also worth checking out is the 12th century Saint Anne’s church nearby. 

The Boulevard de la Croisette is a beautiful palm-tree lined avenue where you’ll find the Palais des Festivals, which is the hub of the Cannes Film Festival in May each year, along with luxury hotels, casinos and marinas packed with expensive yachts. It’s a wonderful place to people watch, stroll and shop. Don’t expect to enjoy a swim, however, as the beaches are attached to the hotels and require an admission fee.

Allée des Stars is Cannes’ version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, with handprints from more than 200 celebrities who’ve attended the famous annual film festival.

The Lerins Islands are worth venturing to if you have a full day in port and fancy something different. A cluster of islands located just off the Cannes coast, the forest of green oaks and eucalyptus on the two islands, Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat, are believed to be among the oldest in Europe. Marguerite is the larger of the islands, and is best known as the prison of the Man in the Iron Mask. It has a nature trail, a fortress, a prison and a marine museum.

Best Photo Op

There are lovely views to be enjoyed from your ship at sail in or sail out, also from the tender boat ride to the quay if you are anchored. The best panorama is from Le Suquet. The statue of Lord Henry Peter Brougham in Allées de la Liberte square is also a must-have photo for many visitors; he’s a Grand Chancellor of England who fell in love with Cannes in the 1800s and is largely responsible for its evolution into an international resort.


The majority of the best shopping in Cannes is concentrated between La Croisette and Rue d’Antibes. You’ll find all the major luxury brands including Cartier, Fendi, Escada Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton and more. If you see a sign in the window reading “Cannes Prestige” they will have at least one English speaking sales person. Next to the statue of Brougham is a flea market selling everything from silver jewellery to movie posters.

Food and Drink

Just pick a café or restaurant and you’ll be in foodie heaven if you enjoy French cuisine. For a light lunch or a sightseeing snack, pop into a French bakery, but if you are up for something more fancy, the head to the Hotel Le Carlton for a cocktail. At the foot of Le Suquet is the Forville market with gourmet food.

Pick of the Excursions 

A guided walking tour of the city is a great way to get your bearings as a first timer, taking in all the major sites including Le Suquet. 

If you want to see more of the famous South of France, and the only French Riviera port of call on your itinerary is Cannes, take an excursion to cosmopolitan Nice, scenic, Antibes, artsy St Paul de Vence, or Grasse, which is home to the perfume industry. 

The principality of Monaco may also be on offer as a day-long excursion if it’s not on your itinerary. It’s the location of Monte Carlo’s casinos and Prince Rainier’s fine royal palace, along with some dramatic views.


Joanna Hall