Located on the Côte d’Azur between Saint Tropez and Monaco, the town of Cannes is well known worldwide for hosting its annual film festival. Its popularity as a holiday resort can be traced back to the 1830s when wealthy British families were attracted here by its mild winter climate. Whilst it still attracts the rich and famous the majority of visitors are regular tourists who come to discover one of the French Riviera’s most famous destinations.
Port of Cannes
Most cruise ships visiting Cannes dock offshore and tender their passengers to the Old Port (Vieux Port) which stands below the Old Town of Le Suquet. The most frequent pier used by tender boats is at Quai Laubeuf on the western side of the port although a few vessels land at the Gare Maritime near the Palais des Festivals where the annual Cannes Film Festival takes place.
Airport Transfers to Cannes
Passengers who are meeting or departing from cruise ships in Cannes will most likely be travelling through Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport which lies 29km north-east of the Old Port.
Bus number 99 from the airport goes to the main ‘Gare de Nice-Ville’ railway station from where there are regular services to Cannes. Alternatively, there’s an airport bus (number 210) which runs directly from the both airport terminals to Cannes.
Far more convenient for cruise ship passengers is to pre-book a private transfer from Nice Airport to Cannes. Shuttledirect offer specialist transfer services to hotels and marinas all along the Côte d’Azur.
Getting Around in Cannes
From Quai Laubeuf visitors can easily walk around the Old Port to the Palais des Festivals and stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette where many of the town’s luxury hotels and Belle Epoque residences are located. Alternatively passengers can take an open top bus (number 8) from the other side of the car park from Quai Laubeuf which runs the length of La Croisette.
The steep climb up to the Old Town to the west of the port is more challenging so the little electric bus that goes up to Le Suquet will prove to be a godsend to many less mobile passengers from cruise ships.
A popular way to see the sights is the ‘Petit Train de Cannes’ which departs from the tourist information office next to the Palais des Festivals. There’s a route heading east which covers the La Croisette and Rue d’Antibes area as well as a history tour which heads into Le Suquet.
For passengers heading out of town, the Gare de Cannes train station is a 15 minute walk from Quai Laubeuf behind the Palais des Festivals. Frequent services run all along the coast in both directions. Hopping on to bus number 200 is an alternative way to visit Antibes but it isn’t recommended for going all the way to Nice due to traffic congestion along the coast road.
Main Tourist Attractions
From the tender pier at Quai Laubeuf it’s just a short walk to the historic centre of Cannes known as Le Suquet which overlooks the port from the west. In the past this Old Town served as a residential district for the town’s fishermen, today it is the main tourist area which is home to many of the main attractions together with a wide selection of cafés and restaurants.
Warning: Visitors should note that the climb up from the port area to the cobbled streets of Le Suquet is quite steep so a reasonable level of fitness and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. In addition, tourists should take sensible precautions in protecting their valuables as pickpocketing is all too common here.
One of the highlights of the Old Town is Musée de la Castre (6 Rue de la Castre) which is housed in a medieval monastery. Visitors who are in good enough shape can climb more than a hundred steps to reach the top of its watch tower from where views along the coast are quite spectacular. Standing next to the museum with its Romanesque bell tower is the Gothic church of Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance (1 Rue de la Castre) which has a viewing platform from where visitors get fantastic views over Cannes.
At the bottom of Le Suquet, just north of the port, is Marché Forville (Rue du Marché Forville) which is a covered market dating back to 1870. This is a foodie’s paradise where stallholders sell a vast range of local produce including bread, meat, cheese, fish and vegetables (except Mondays). Visitors who don’t wish to buy anything can browse the stalls then have lunch outside at one of the bars or restaurants which source their ingredients from the market.
On the north-eastern corner of the Vieux Port some 850m walk from the tender pier stands the Palais des Festivals which is where the Cannes Film Festival is held. Outside the ten days of May when the festival takes place there’s little to see here other than the Allée des Stars where the handprints of hundreds of film stars can be seen in what is a lesser version of Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’.
Beyond the Palais des Festivals is Boulevard de la Croisette which is a 2km long promenade overlooking the Mediterranean. It is home to a selection of luxury hotels, designer boutiques and expensive restaurants together with casinos and yacht moorings. The whole of the pebbly beach which runs along La Croisette is owned by the hotels so is only accessible to the general public by paying an admission fee. Plage du Midi which lies west of the port beyond Le Suquet is a better bathing option for cruise ship passengers.
Shore Excursions Beyond Cannes
Cannes is an ideal port of call from which to discover some of the highlights of the Côte d’Azur. Just 13km east of the Old Port of Cannes lies the chic resort of Antibes which epitomizes the glamour of the French Riviera. You can take a wander down to its luxurious marina to see some of the world’s most expensive yachts and marvel at the magnificent homes of the rich and famous.
Further east is the city of Nice (36km) and the charming port-town of Villefranche-Sur-Mer (42km) together with the Principality of Monaco (57km) which is home to the Monte Carlo Casino. All these destinations are accessible by frequent train services departing from Gare de Cannes (4 Place de la Gare).
Just 20km inland from Cannes is the famous town of Grasse which is home to some of France’s best known perfume factories which are open to the public. Meanwhile the medieval villages of Saint Paul de Vence and Eze are frequently included as part of shore excursion itineraries offered by cruise lines.
Another rewarding excursion for independent travellers is to the Lerins Islands which lie just offshore from the Vieux Port. Water taxis depart frequently from the tender port.
About Shuttle Direct
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