Cannes

Few places anywhere on earth epitomise the indolent, elegant lifestyle enjoyed along the fabled Cote D’Azur quite like Cannes. Cool, classy and immaculately clad, the city is one of the great ‘Queens’ of the fabled French Riviera. A fairytale city of date palms, deluxe hotels and designer shops that stands flanked by the beaches of the balmy summertime Mediterranean, Cannes really is the good life writ large.

Perhaps stroll along the Croisette Boulevard, with it’s open air pavement cafes, and private lidos that jut out into the sparkling ocean like so many spindly fingers. Have lunch at  the sumptuous, ornate Carlton Hotel or the chic, slightly fifties style Martinez. They dominate the strip.

Along the way you might catch the sounds of a moody tenor sax, flooding the air under the illuminated palms, or the sight of jugglers, acrobats and mime artists, performing against a backdrop of ornate fountains, set in the midst of city squares awash with thousands of people at all hours of the day and night.

You might be there for the world famous film festival, held each May, but you’ll always find the inner harbour chock full of fantastic yachts of every size, shape and style. Motor scooters weave in and out of the early evening crowds coming ashore to enjoy a long, lazy dinner in one of the floodlit bistros that stretch along the whole length of the waterfront. This is a city that elevates people watching to the level of an art form.

But Cannes is also a city chock full of old world charm. Walk along to the end of the boulevard and you’ll find the narrow, winding streets of the old town. Here, tables and chairs are set outside under canopies that hang from the lower levels of old Italianate buildings in a riot of pastel shades. These wind in a series of serpentine trails up to the old castle and clock tower that still loom above this older, more rustic and charming part of the Cote D’Azur.

See dogs snoozing in the shade of parked cars. Masts on yachts in the harbour below resemble a forest of pin sharp needles. From here,  the original charm and intimacy of the fishing village of old are obvious.

It’s this scintillating mix of old and new, chic and cozy, that makes Cannes such a magnetic, compelling draw.

Getting there: Most cruise ships anchor offshore, and tender passengers into the northern end of town. It’s an easy, even, ten minute stroll to achieve the main strip of La Croisette proper.

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