Cannes is known for its festivals, but it is also a holiday playground of the rich and famous. The sight to see is the 3 km-long La Croisette, a long, palm-lined boulevard along the seafront, with palace hotels on one side and private beaches on the other. It's possible to find your way down to the beach without paying, but not easy. The beaches, owned by the deluxe palais-hôtels - the Majestic, Carlton and Noga Hilton - are where you're most likely to spot a face familiar in celluloid, especially during the International Film Festival.
Walking along the Boulevard de la Croisette you will see a number of belle epoque buildings in addition to the Casino d' Ete and the Casino Palm Beach. The Palais des Festivals et des Congres is the centre for many international conferences, music concerts, and of course the annual film festival in May each year when Hollywood comes to France. The streets behind the Croisette, such as the elegant Rue d'Antibes, are lined with high-class boutiques.
At the far end of the Croisette, the residential quarter known as La Californie is home to several lovely residences dating back to the sumptuous era of the 19th century including Villa Fiesole, Château Louis XIII and Villa Rothschild.
Discover the charm of the old neighbourhoods around the Port and the hill known as Le Suquet. It´s worth climbing to the top of the hill to enjoy panoramic views of the town, port and beaches. Looking over Cannes port is the Notre-Dame d' Esperance. Built between 1521-1648 in Gothic style, the church features impressive art works including busts, altarpieces and two wooden statues (one of the Virgin from the 16th century and one of St Anne from the late 15th century).
The nearby Musée de la Castre is partly housed in the former 12th century Saint Anne's Chapel. This interesting museum houses a collection of musical instruments from all over the world, pictures and prints of old Cannes and an ethnology and archeology section.
Cannes port is impressive and deserves a leisurely stroll to see the fishing boats and luxury yachts. Here, you can go on boat trips along the coast or hire a speedboat for the day. The nearby Îles de Lérins (a short fifteen minute ferry ride away) provide a great contrast to the bustling town of Cannes. The island of Sainte-Marguerite boasts a wooded park of 425 acres and some of the finest beaches on the Côte d'Azur. The dominating structure of the island is the Fort Ste-Marguerite. There are cells to see, a small aquarium hosting specimens of local marine life and a museum containing mostly Roman local finds but also remnants of a 10th century Arab ship.
The smaller island of St-Honorat is more tranquil. Owned by monks almost continuously since its namesake and patron founded a monastery here in 410 AD, the island was home to a famous bishops' seminary, where St Patrick trained before setting out for Ireland. The present abbey buildings date mostly from the 19th century, though some vestiges of the earlier constructions remain in the austere church and cloisters. A shop sells the benevolent white wine, spirits and honey produced by the small monastic community of Cistercian brothers.