Cannes - the City of the Films
Which city at the Côte d'Azur is apparently the most famous one? We might think on Monaco or Nice. But in fact, it is spoken about Cannes all over the world when in May the annual Film Festivals take place. From the touristical point of view, Cannes indeed does not offer as much as Nice, Monaco or Marseille, but during two weeks per year, Cannes is the centre of attention related to movies and therewith the world's centre of attention; Everybody has heard about Cannes even if he has never been there.
A world famous city as Cannes must also have a long and traditional history, doesn't it? In the antique, Cannes did not have any significance, as the city did not have an own basin, so that the greeks or the Romans could establish a trade centre there as it was the case in the other bigger cities at the Côte d'Azur.
Not until the 11th century a colony emerged in Cannes that is worth to mention. From this small colony, in the course of the centuries, a city developed that was surrounded by some walls, but this city could never reach a significant growth. In the years after the French relvolution, Cannes has less than 3.000 inhabitants.
Not until the first half of the 19h century, when the British Count Graf Brougham built a villa in Cannes, the city experienced a significant raise and became an exclusive place at the Côte d'Azur. For a time period, Cannes even outperformed Nice in exclusivity. But Cannes experienced its real rise to a world city not earlier than a couple of years later after the establishment of the Film Festivals.
The Film Festivals of Cannes
The annual Film Festivals that take place in May have made Cannes to a world famous city. For two weeks per year, the celebrities from the film and the music industry come together in Cannes. Of course, during this time period, Cannes is completely overbooked; to find an hotel during the film festivals is nearly impossible; Also the adjacent places are practically overbooked in this "5th season".
The Film Festivals were founded in the year of the beginning of the Second Worldwar as an opposite spectacle to a Film Festival in Venice. The day of the inauguration was the same day when Hitler entered Poland. After the end of the war, it has to be restarted. The Film Festivals only slowly gained significance. At the beginning, mainly local people where those watching the numerous films every second year; Not until the 50ies, the Film Festival became really significant and from them it took place every year.
The Festivals of Cannes were founded as Film Festivals. Today, many critical reporters and journalists wonder if it is actually the film that is the centre of attention or the Film Festivals of Cannes. Much more important than the approximately 300 shown films is the business that takes place in the background, as not only famous actors and actresses but also regisseurs, producers and investors come together. There, big businesses are done and projects are also decided.
Cannes in the 21st Century
From the once unsignificant Cannes, a big city of more than 200.000 inhabitants (including the suburbs) developed. Today, Cannes is one of the most exclusive places t the Côte d'Azur. Those who want to stay over in Cannes will have to pay a lot. The hotels are not only expensive, but there re also only few modest hotels. In no other city at the Côte d'Azur there are so many 4-star hotels compared to the modest ones.
During the time of the film festival in May every year, Cannes is completely booked out. But Cannes is not only the city of the movies but also a congress centre. In Cannes, numerous congresses take place throughout the year, so that the hotels are repeatedely overbooked.
I think there is no need to mention that the prices of the restaurants are also on the top. In some restaurants I partly really felt ripped off. It is an habit in France to have an espresso after the meal. In Cannes, I really paid more than 5 € for such an espresso. Since then I know that I also have to look into the card even before ordering a coffee, as these are really rip-off prices.
Today, Cannes is a city where one can do good and expensive shopping. People go to Cannes in order to do some shopping. The sightseeings of the city are rather modest; What is much more important is to see and to be seen on the pompous promenade of the city.
Sightseeings of Cannes
As it is typical for a French mediterranean city, there is an old harbour (Vieux Port), from which the rambling promenade starts; Right beside the old harbour there is the Festival House (Palais des Festivals et des Congrès), in which the famous Film Festivals and numerous congresses take place. The Festival House raises our to the ocean as if it was a luxury liner that landed at the harbour.
The Festival House of Cannes cannot be described as arquitectonically interesting. The inhabitants of Cannes do not call it the "bunker" for nothing.Right behind the Festival House, the pompous promenade of the city starts, the Boulevard de la Croisette. The Croisette was arranged in the year 1850 after the model of the Promenade d'Anglais of Nice. On a length of two kilometres, one can promenade alongside this pompous street and gets at the east to the Pointe Croisette, from which one has a beautiful view over the whole of the promenade to the Festival House.
In the course of 150 years, the Croisette was repeatedely rearranged. It got its current appearance after the Second Worldwar. Right underneath the promenade there is the Plage de la Croisette, a beautiful, very wide sand beach, at which having a bath is real fun. The water in Cannes is very clear and shallow. It is a pure pleasure to toddle slowly into the sea on the soft sand.
In fact, Cannes is not only a place of the celebrities but also a beautiful bathing resort, even though one can also get nice beaches in the neighboured places with the respective accommodation for half of the price.
The Lerian Islands (Iles de Lérins)
At only approximately 1 km distance from the coast of Cannes there are the two islands Ile St. Honorat and Ile Ste. Marguerite. These two islands are a popular destination for excursions either for tourists as also for the inhabitants of Cannes.
From Cannes one can see straight to the Ile de Sainte-Marguerite at the front. This island is a pradise
for the nature lovers, as here, one finds a bright and colourful vegetation without any car and moped noises. On the seven kilometres long natural path Sentier Botanique one can really enjoy the nature. At the northern edge of the island one can view the medieval fortification Fort Royal.
Behind the Ile Ste. Marguerite there is a small island Ile St. Honorat. The island is really tiny, a circumnavigation of the island is done in 1-2 hours by walking leisurely. For sightseeing, there is the convent Monastre Fortifie de Saint-Honorat, located right at the coast. In the medieval times, the monks of the convent also administered the neighboured island until it was occupied by the Spaniards.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz