Top 9 places you must visit in Cannes

by Barbara

Nestled along the shimmering coastline of the French Riviera, Cannes is synonymous with glamour, luxury, and the iconic Cannes Film Festival. However, beyond the glitz and the palm-lined Croisette, this region boasts a rich tapestry of historical sites, picturesque villages, and natural wonders waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, the surrounding areas of Cannes offer a plethora of experiences that promise to enchant and inspire. Here, we delve into some of the most captivating sights around Cannes that should be on every traveler’s itinerary.

Antibes: A Blend of Antiquity and Coastal Charm

A mere 11 kilometers from Cannes, Antibes is a captivating town that perfectly marries ancient history with modern coastal allure. This vibrant town is a haven for art lovers, history enthusiasts, and those seeking the quintessential Riviera experience.


Old Town and Port Vauban

The heart of Antibes lies in its Old Town, a maze of narrow, cobbled streets that lead to charming squares, bustling markets, and ancient fortifications. The 16th-century Fort Carré stands sentinel over the town, offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the Alps.


Port Vauban, one of the largest marinas in Europe, is a testament to Antibes’ long-standing maritime tradition. Here, you’ll find everything from local fishing boats to luxurious yachts, creating a picturesque scene against the backdrop of the old fort.


Picasso Museum

For art aficionados, the Picasso Museum is an unmissable highlight. Housed in the Château Grimaldi, the museum features a stunning collection of works by Pablo Picasso, who lived and worked in Antibes in 1946. The museum also hosts pieces by other contemporary artists, making it a rich cultural experience.

Cap d’Antibes

Nature lovers should not miss a stroll around Cap d’Antibes, a stunning promontory that offers some of the most breathtaking views on the Riviera. The Sentier du Littoral, or coastal path, winds its way around the cape, providing access to secluded coves and pristine beaches.

Grasse: The Perfume Capital of the World

Just 20 kilometers inland from Cannes lies Grasse, a picturesque town renowned as the world’s perfume capital. The air here is perfumed with the scent of flowers, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.


Grasse is home to several famous perfumeries, such as Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard. These establishments offer guided tours where visitors can learn about the intricate process of perfume making, from the harvesting of flowers to the distillation of essential oils. Some perfumeries even offer workshops where you can create your own signature scent.

International Perfume Museum

The International Perfume Museum is a must-visit for those interested in the history and art of fragrance. The museum’s exhibits trace the development of perfume from ancient times to the modern era, showcasing a fascinating collection of bottles, tools, and artifacts.

Old Town and Cathedral

Grasse’s Old Town is a delightful labyrinth of winding streets, medieval buildings, and hidden squares. The Notre-Dame-du-Puy Cathedral, dating back to the 12th century, houses remarkable works of art, including paintings by Rubens and a magnificent altarpiece by Fragonard.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence: An Artistic Enclave

Perched on a hilltop about 30 kilometers from Cannes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera. Known for its vibrant art scene, this charming village has long been a haven for artists, writers, and actors.

Maeght Foundation

The Maeght Foundation is a cultural jewel in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. This contemporary art museum features works by major 20th-century artists such as Miró, Chagall, and Giacometti. The museum’s architecture and its integration with the surrounding landscape make it a unique cultural experience.

Village Walk

Walking through Saint-Paul-de-Vence is like stepping back in time. The town’s well-preserved ramparts, cobblestone streets, and historic buildings create a picturesque setting. Art galleries and boutiques line the narrow lanes, offering everything from fine art to handmade crafts.

La Colombe d’Or

This legendary inn has hosted an array of famous guests, including Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall. La Colombe d’Or is not just a place to stay; it’s also an art gallery, with works by many of its illustrious patrons adorning the walls.

Èze: A Medieval Marvel

Approximately 50 kilometers from Cannes, the medieval village of Èze is perched high on a rocky cliff, offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Known for its enchanting beauty and historical significance, Èze is a perfect day trip destination.

Jardin Exotique

The Jardin Exotique d’Èze is a stunning botanical garden located at the highest point of the village. It features a variety of exotic plants, primarily cacti and succulents, as well as sculptures by contemporary artists. The panoramic views from the garden are nothing short of breathtaking.

Fragonard Perfume Factory

Like Grasse, Èze is also home to a Fragonard Perfume Factory. Visitors can tour the factory to see how perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics are made, and of course, purchase some of these fragrant products.

Èze Village

The village itself is a maze of narrow, winding streets, quaint stone houses, and charming boutiques. The 12th-century Èze Church and the ancient ruins of a medieval castle add to the historical ambiance of the village.

The Lérins Islands: A Tranquil Escape

Just off the coast of Cannes lie the Lérins Islands, a small archipelago consisting of Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat. These islands offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling mainland.

Île Sainte-Marguerite

The larger of the two islands, Île Sainte-Marguerite, is famous for its Fort Royal, where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned. The island is crisscrossed with walking trails that lead through dense forests of eucalyptus and pine, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean.

Île Saint-Honorat

Île Saint-Honorat is home to a community of Cistercian monks who produce wine and liqueurs. The island’s ancient abbey and chapels provide a serene atmosphere, and visitors can explore the vineyards and taste the monks’ products.

The Estérel Mountains: A Natural Paradise

The Estérel Mountains, located about 30 kilometers west of Cannes, are a striking natural landscape of red volcanic rock and lush vegetation. This region is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking adventure.

Hiking and Cycling

The Estérel Mountains offer a network of trails suitable for hiking and cycling. The dramatic scenery, with its deep gorges, towering cliffs, and panoramic sea views, makes for an unforgettable outdoor experience. Popular trails include the Cap du Dramont and the Pic de l’Ours.

Calanques and Beaches

The coastline of the Estérel is dotted with calanques—narrow, steep-walled inlets that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The Plage de l’Île d’Or and the Calanque de Maubois are particularly beautiful spots for a day by the sea.

Monaco: The Glamorous Principality

Just an hour’s drive from Cannes, Monaco is a must-visit for its opulence, grandeur, and unique status as a sovereign city-state. While small in size, Monaco offers a wealth of attractions.

Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. Even if you don’t gamble, the casino’s opulent architecture and lavish interiors are worth a visit. The surrounding Casino Square is lined with high-end boutiques and cafes.

Prince’s Palace

The Prince’s Palace, the official residence of the ruling Grimaldi family, offers guided tours of its richly decorated rooms. The palace’s location on the Rock of Monaco provides sweeping views of the Mediterranean and the city below.

Oceanographic Museum

Founded by Prince Albert I, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is a world-renowned marine science museum. Its impressive collection includes marine life exhibits, an aquarium, and artifacts from oceanographic expeditions.

Monaco Grand Prix

If you visit Monaco in late May, you might catch the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious events in the Formula One calendar. The race takes place on the streets of Monaco, offering a thrilling experience for motorsport enthusiasts.

Nice: The Vibrant Capital of the Riviera

A short 30-minute drive from Cannes, Nice is the largest city on the French Riviera and a vibrant cultural hub. With its stunning promenade, rich history, and lively arts scene, Nice is a destination that has something for everyone.

Promenade des Anglais

The Promenade des Anglais is Nice’s most famous landmark, stretching along the Mediterranean coast for seven kilometers. This bustling boulevard is perfect for a leisurely stroll, offering beautiful views of the sea and access to the city’s beaches.

Old Town (Vieux Nice)

Nice’s Old Town is a lively area filled with narrow streets, colorful buildings, and bustling markets. The Cours Saleya market is a particular highlight, offering fresh produce, flowers, and local specialties. The Old Town is also home to numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants, making it a great place to soak up the local atmosphere.

Castle Hill (Colline du Château)

For the best views of Nice, head to Castle Hill, which overlooks the city and the Bay of Angels. Although the castle itself is in ruins, the park offers lush gardens, waterfalls, and panoramic vistas.

Museums and Art Galleries

Nice boasts several excellent museums, including the Musée Matisse, which houses an extensive collection of works by Henri Matisse, and the Musée Marc Chagall, dedicated to the works of the artist Marc Chagall. The city’s cultural offerings make it a haven for art lovers.

Ventimiglia: Gateway to Italy

A short drive from Cannes, Ventimiglia is just across the border in Italy, offering a delightful blend of Italian culture and Riviera charm. This historic town is famous for its weekly markets, ancient Roman sites, and beautiful coastline.

Ventimiglia Market

The Friday market in Ventimiglia is one of the largest and most famous in the region. It attracts visitors from both France and Italy, offering everything from fresh produce to leather goods and fashion items.

Roman Remains

Ventimiglia boasts several well-preserved Roman ruins, including a theater and a bath complex. The archaeological site of Albintimilium offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s ancient past.

Old Town

Ventimiglia’s Old Town, perched on a hill overlooking the sea, is a charming area of narrow streets, historic buildings, and beautiful churches. The medieval Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is particularly worth a visit.


The area around Cannes is a treasure trove of diverse attractions, each offering a unique slice of the Riviera experience. From the artistic enclaves of Antibes and Saint-Paul-de-Vence to the natural beauty of the Estérel Mountains and the historical richness of Ventimiglia, there is no shortage of places to explore. Whether you’re drawn to the glamour of Monaco, the perfumed air of Grasse, or the vibrant culture of Nice, the surroundings of Cannes promise a journey filled with discovery and delight. So, venture beyond the red carpet and uncover the hidden gems that make this region one of the most captivating destinations in the world.


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