Charter a yacht, book a cooking class, or take a street art tour – there are so many unique things to do in Cannes!
Once a tiny, quaint fishing village, today Cannes is one of the most glamourous destinations on the Côte d’Azur. This compact town is packed with designer boutiques, fancy restaurants, and beautiful seafront hotels and beaches, providing everything you need for the perfect summer getaway. It’s time to don your shades and rub shoulders with the rich and famous in France’s glitzy Riviera playground!
Think of Cannes and you inevitably think of the movies. In May each year global movie stars flock to the city to celebrate one of the most important film festivals in the world. However, there’s more to this city than meets the eye, and if you’re looking for unusual and unique things to do in Cannes, you won’t be disappointed. From street art tours to cooking classes, there are plenty of awesome Cannes activities that will help you see a different side to the city.
Ready to start planning your next adventure but not sure what to do in Cannes? I’m here to help! These are some of my favourite unique things to do in Cannes.
10 Unique Things to Do In Cannes
1. Stroll Along La Croisette
La Croisette is Cannes’ answer to Nice’s Promenade des Anglais – a wide pedestrianised walkway lined by sandy beaches on one side, and glitzy, glamourous boutiques on the other. Stretching for over three kilometres along the dazzling blue Mediterranean coast, and lined with palm trees, La Croisette is the place to see and be seen in Cannes.
At the western end of the road you’ll find the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, home of the Cannes film festival, so don’t miss the opportunity to take a red carpet photo on the iconic steps! An after-dinner stroll and a spot of people-watching on La Croisette is one of the most popular things to do in Cannes at night.
2. Explore Le Suquet
With roots stretching back to Roman times, Le Suquet is Cannes’ oldest quarter, and a great place to start your trip if you’re not sure what to do in Cannes when you first arrive! With pastel coloured buildings and steep cobbled streets, this beautiful part of town simply oozes old-world charm and offers a glimpse of Cannes as it was before the tourists and glitz and glamour of the movie industry stepped into town.
With magnificent views over the bay, and plenty of quirky subterranean restaurants and bars, Le Suquet is the perfect place to while away an afternoon.
3. Visit Marché Forville
Nestled just below Le Suquet, the legendary Marché Forville is a feast for the senses. With fabulous fresh produce, scented flower stalls and fish fresh off the boat, Marché Forville is a fantastic place to do some shopping, whether you want to stock up for a special dinner or simply grab a bite to eat.
Remember to bring your camera as the lush fruit and vegetable stands make perfect Instagram snaps too! Many of the city’s famous chefs stock their larders from this market, which showcases some of the best produce you’ll find in Provence. If antiques are your thing, on Mondays the food stalls are transformed into an all-day flea market, with plenty of bargains to be had.
4. Explore Cannes Street Art
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Cannes, why not take a tour of the city’s fabulous street art? Cannes is an open canvas, with incredible murals adorning the walls and houses throughout the city, many of which throw a nod to the importance of the film industry in Cannes.
Don’t miss scenes from iconic movies like Gone With The Wind and La Dolce Vita on the Boulevard de la République, or the famous celluloid strip featuring Charlie Chaplin and ‘The Kid’ on Boulevard Vallombrossa. These striking pieces of street art are an impressive sight, and a day tour of the best artworks is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Cannes.
5. Go For A Hike In La Croix-des Gardes
Just over a kilometre from the bustling heart of Cannes lies a vast estate, comprising over 200 acres of forest. Known as the ‘lungs of Cannes’, this beautiful natural reserve is a lovely place for a walk, with aromatic eucalyptus and cypress trees, several kilometres of trails, and some of the best views out over the coastline and the city.
At the centre of the park is the famous chateau, once used as a filming location by Alfred Hitchcock in To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. This is a lovely place to escape to for a breath of fresh air.
6. Charter A Yacht
Yachting is big business in Cannes, and each year hundreds of magnificent yachts fill the Vieux Port during the Cannes Yachting Festival. There’s no better way to enjoy the sparkling Mediterranean coast of the French Riviera than by chartering your own yacht in Cannes and exploring the sheltered coves and rocky beaches.
There are many beautiful spots along the Côte d’Azur that are ideal anchorages for a superyacht and can’t be accessed by road, so it’s possible to find your own little corner of paradise away from the crowded beaches and popular tourist spots. The hard bit? Returning the yacht as no doubt you’ll fall in love with #yachtlife as you explore this stunning coastline!
7. Book a Cooking Class
France is known for its world-class gastronomy, and there are plenty of amazing restaurants all around the city. However, if you’re looking for unique things to do in Cannes, why not book yourself onto a cooking class? This is a great way to learn about French culture and pick up a few techniques that you can take home to impress your friends at your next dinner party!
Most cooking tours in Cannes start at the Marché Forville, where you’ll select the freshest possible produce for your dish, and then put together a meal under the careful guidance of an expert chef. Finish the day by sampling your own creation. This is one of the best Cannes activities, and a fantastic way to learn a little about France’s food culture.
8. Take a Day Trip To The Lérins Islands
The Lérins Islands, a group of four small islands located just off the coast of Cannes, make the ideal spot for a day trip, offering the perfect combination of natural beauty and culture. The largest and most famous of the islands, Île Sainte-Marguerite, is best known as the setting of Alexander Dumas’ novel, The Man in the Iron Mask, who was reportedly held in the island’s prison.
It’s possible to visit all four islands on a day trip, where you’ll discover a fortress and maritime museum, a medieval abbey, countless walking trails, and a selection of peaceful, sandy beaches, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of Cannes itself.
9. Eat At One Of The Best Restaurants in the City
Cannes is definitely a destination where you’ll want to splash out on a delicious dinner, and happily, there are plenty of great options. If you’re looking for something truly decadent, book a table at La Palme d’Or, Cannes’ only two-starred Michelin restaurant. If you can’t stretch to an opulent dinner, go for the five-course lunch menu, which offers excellent value and a chance to sample Michelin-starred food in a sumptuous setting.
For local Provençal cuisine try Le Bistro Gourmand, where you’ll find an ever-changing menu of mouth-watering local specialities. For something a little more adventurous, Le Grain de Sel is good option, with Asian inspired fusion cuisine and an exciting menu that stands out from the crowd.
10. Take a Day Trip to Monte Carlo
It’s just a short drive along the coast from Cannes to Monte Carlo, making this an excellent option for day trips. Monaco’s bustling centre is often associated with flashy cars and busy casinos, but there are plenty of other beautiful sights, including the charming old town and beautiful cathedral, as well as the lavish Prince’s Palace.
On your way back to Cannes, don’t forget to call at the lovely hilltop village of Eze, for a breath-taking view over the dazzling coastline.
I hope this post has inspired you to start planning your next French Riviera tour! Whenever you travel, there are so many unique things to do in Cannes, I’m sure you simply won’t want to leave.