Cannes VacationCannes – Red Carpet, Year-Round
Lagerfeld-spotting. Château Pibarnon-drinking. Promenade de la Croisette-strolling. Day-tripping to Monaco, Antibes, or Nice. It all sounds pretty A-list, and frequently, it is. But Cannes rolls out the red carpet year-round, regardless of whether you’re in the industry, which means it’s possible to partake in all of the above without Brangelina cramping your style. And while we love a good party, there’s something to be said for Cannes-ing without a film festival or a fashion week.
Good For: Singles, couples, and groups of friends looking to drink rosé, chill out on the beach, and dance on tables late-night. Minus the after-dark antics (and rosé, though children are allowed to partake in a sip in France), Cannes can be a family-friendly place, both for those avec and sans nanny.
- Lunching at the Hotel Martinez beach club, Zplage, on fresh mozzarella and tomato, a large pot of mussels in white wine, and a bottle (or two) of rosé.
- Posting up for the day among the impossibly beautiful people at the Carlton Hotel’s beach club chaise lounges, situated on a pier that juts over the sea. Bring the sun block, shades, and watch the yachts go by all day.
- Walking the Croisette from start to finish, ending where the large yachts are docked, and enjoying the simplicity of taking in the sunshine while window-shopping at the less-than-simple luxury shops along the way.
- Playing the lady (or gentleman) who lunches at confiserie LeNôtre, and wandering through old Cannes taking in the shops and tea houses.
- Imbibing in Cannes nightlife, from the almost-karaoke Caffe Lalu with the locals to the glamorous Le Bâoli.
Most know Cannes for the famous film festival, where the flashbulbs of the paparazzi will be popping along with the bottles of champagne this May. But what’s lesser known is that Cannes is a year-round destination, whether for New Year’s Eve, where you may luck out with milder weather and be able to sit on the beach, to the height of the summer season, when it’s a prime place to call home base for day trips to Monaco, Eze, and Antibes. As for the city itself, Cannes is where the action is, from the beach clubs and restaurants to late-night debauchery.
Plus, when you visit in the off-season, it’s refreshing to make a ressie at Restaurant Le Comptoir without fear of getting bumped by Beyonce. Or to sip espresso at the Carlton Hotel without launching into a heated debate about who’s worthy of the Palme d’Or. You know, the important things in life. It’s also a real treat to nab a lounger at Hotel Martinez’s pool without having to fight off Leo’s latest arm candy with a champagne magnum. And for once, afternoons at Le Bâoli can dissolve into healthy debauchery without ending up on Page Six. That alone deserves another round of rosé.
For a place this posh, it’s surprising that Cannes hotels are middle of the road on the luxury barometer, though you’d never guess it from the $800-plus price tags at the top hotels in high season. Cannes is not a place you go to stay in the hotel, but rather to take advantage of its immediate environs, with the beach clubs, restaurants, and nightlife just steps away. The coolest of the grand dame hotels on the Croisette is the Hotel Martinez, which recently became part of the Hyatt group, so break out those hotel points. Its beach club, Zplage, is where the cool kids order double magnums of champagne. For those in search of fine dining, try the Palme d’Or restaurant. Think quintessential fine French cuisine with service to match. The after-work scene any time of the year is good, with people-watching at their bar L’Amiral.
For old-school glamorous, the Carlton Hotel is your best bet. It's quieter, elegant, and where the grown-ups stay to get away from the buzzy Cannes scene. But prepare to be underwhelmed with the rooms unless you go big with one of the suites with a sea view. The Carlton’s lobby bar area has seen major business deals go down; it’s the place to meet for that corporate coffee, or to position yourself for an afternoon of people-watching, both inside the hotel and out.
The Restaurant Insider
There’s a reason why you should not use guidebooks to plan your meals, and the recommendations of those that cover Cannes epitomize exactly why. Run, don’t walk, away from restaurants like Le Festival de la Mer, which are tourist traps for locals and international travelers alike. It’s challenging to scratch the surface on Cannes restaurants unless you have insider recommendations. In the height of high season, you’ll also sacrifice quality of food for scene, like at Felix, which has some of the best people-watching on the Croisette. Although reviews are mixed, Restaurant Le Comptoir has one of the best crab and avocado appetizers (a typical Cannes dish), and fresh off-the boat branzino along with le café gourmand, an espresso with an array of desserts that’s a meal in itself. Off the beaten path, two standout restaurants are Casa Mia and L’Andrea. Both are Italian, and have some of the best-looking local crowds along with food to match. Casa Mia in particular is tucked away in a nondescript building, which looks like it would belong in New York.
The beauty of Cannes is the field trips you can take. Some of the best restaurants are in Antibes, so hop in the car for a quick fifteen-minute ride. For lunch, head to Keller, a hidden-away beach club where the rosé is as chill as the scene. The well-heeled and effortlessly sophisticated break bread at Bacon, which is known for its bouillabaisse and virtually any classic French dish on the menu. For those not calling the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc home, get a piece of the experience by dining at Restaurant Eden-Roc. Think classic dishes like Steak Diane, flamed at your table. This is the stuff that bucket list dreams are made of. Which is what the south of France is all about.