Visiting Cannes Rekindled My Love Of The French Riviera

The Côte d’Azur hotspot ticks every box.

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A Bustle writer recommends hotels, restaurants, and what to do in Cannes, France.

Growing up, the French Riviera, or the Côte d’Azur, was my family’s summertime destination of choice. I’ve lost count of the times we traversed the southern region of France to vacation in locales like Nice, Saint-Tropez, and Monaco. Cannes only made our holiday itinerary once, in the summer of 2008, shortly after I graduated from secondary school. Fifteen years later, I was invited by Côte d’Azur France to rediscover the city, and naturally, I seized the opportunity.

The region exudes glamour and is admired globally for its shimmering blue shorelines, Mediterranean cuisine, and mountainous landscapes. For my trip, I was hosted in the city center of Cannes, a destination known for its idyllic beaches and annual film festival. The heart of the city, the Promenade de la Croisette, stretches along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and is home to the historic Carlton Hotel, the finest French eateries, and a seemingly endless string of high-end boutiques.

Whether you’re planning a solo getaway like mine, or are looking to travel with family and friends, check out my recommendations for visiting Cannes, below.

Where To Stay

If you’re in search of chic, comfortable accommodations with close links to surrounding Côte d’Azur gems, look no further than the Okko Hotels Cannes Center, where I was hosted during my stay.

Situated just a five-minute stroll from the glitzy Cannes seafront, the hotel boasts clean and modern rooms complimented by a superb staff. During my three-night stay, I enjoyed a glass of wine (or two) on the hotel’s tranquil rooftop terrace, which overlooks the surrounding cityscape, and made use of the exceptionally well-air-conditioned workspace and dining room. In the latter, you’ll find tasty French pastries in abundance.

An outdoor view of the OKKO Hotels Cannes Center.
A room at the centrally located hotel.
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What To Do

Party At The Les Plages Electroniques

As someone with a keen interest in arts and culture, attending the annual Les Plages Électroniques music festival was undoubtedly a highlight of my trip. Founded in 2006 and hosted at the legendary Palais des Festivals de Cannes, this “unique” event, as festival co-founder Matthieu Corosine proudly describes it, showcases a diverse lineup of electronic artists, ranging from up-and-comers to some of the world’s most celebrated DJs, such as Armin van Buuren and DJ Snake, whom I viewed from the sandy Cannes seafront. The thousands of music lovers, myself included, had access to a wide variety of bars, food trucks, high-energy stages, and after-parties that were running well into the early hours.

Sail To The Lérins Islands

I took an exhilarating ride on a Black Tenders speed boat to the historic Lérins Islands, situated roughly 3 miles from the shores of Cannes. We anchored between two of the four islands, Saint-Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite, in order to explore the underwater eco-museum, which features the work of Jason deCaires Taylor, whose six submerged statues are scattered around the Mediterranean seabed. From there, I sailed to Saint-Honorat, a perfect place to admire scenic views, a woodland landscape, and the spectacular active 19th century monastery Lérins Abbey.

The lineup for the Les Plages Electroniques music festival.
A stage view.
Blue skies at Saint-Honorat island.
Small, windy streets in the town of Mougins.
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Explore Mougins

The hilltop town of Mougins was a 20-minute drive from my hotel. Once home to Pablo Picasso, among other notable figures, this Côte d’Azur gem, which sits above the Valmasque forest, boasts breathtaking panoramic views. And while petite, its rich culinary and artistic history dates back many years. During my few hours there, I strolled through its charming squares and alleyways, admiring the local art galleries and studios, such as the Centre de la Photographie de Mougins (holding work of Harold Feinstein) and the recently renovated Centre d’art Mougins (currently hosting a Pablo Picasso/Aldo Crommelynck exhibition).

Where To Eat

To avoid the midday heat, I stopped by at the charming Brasserie de la Méditerranée for a lunch of sardines on toast, a citrus-infused seabass fillet, and for dessert, a warm chocolate cake with a side of coconut ice cream — all of which I washed down with a frequently replenished glass of ice-cold rosé.

On Saint-Honorat Island, I highly recommend the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at the sea-view Restaurant La Tonnelle, where I opted for the Gouda medium-rare burger, which had been sizzled to perfection with candied onions.

A lunch of sardines on toast at Brasserie de la Méditerranée.
Seabass fillet at Brasserie de la Méditerranée.
On Saint-Honorat island, stop by Restaurant la Tonnelle.
An outdoor view of Brasserie de la Méditerranée in Mougins.
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Tips For Visiting

Pack Sunscreen. A Lot Of It.

With average summertime temperatures soaring past 86 degrees Fahrenheit, you can never apply too much SPF at Cannes. Remember to re-apply after swimming, as even the most “water-resistant” products don’t always live up to expectations. I learned this the hard way.

Trust Locals’ Opinions

France has a reputation for its fine cuisine, and there’s reason for that: French folks’ taste really is impeccable. So, when deciding on a lunchtime spot or evening meal, ask the Cannes locals for recommendations, as I did. You won’t be disappointed.

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