You often hear stories about people heading off on their holidays ‘to the South of France’ and I never necessarily understood why this would be their chosen destination over other European breaks – but WOW, how wrong could I have been?! Not only did I completely fall in love with the place, the local people were up there with the friendliest I’ve ever met.
After just over a 2 hour flight, we arrived into Nice International Airport (NCE). The approach into Nice is like something out of a movie itself! As the plane begins to slow in preparation for landing, you look out of the window to see the unbelievable contrast between the bright turquoise sea against the golden sands of the Riviera and just a short distance behind, you get the snow-covered peaks of the Alps (as pictured).
Bearing in mind that I travelled at the beginning of March, it was refreshing to see blue skies and sunshine and I immediately began to understand why the French Riviera has been such a popular destination for so many years, particularly in the winter months.
On a Travel Department holiday flying into Nice, you’re welcomed on arrival by your tour guide who accompanies you to your hotel via guided coach transfer. Whether you’re on our Nice City Break holiday or one of our Cannes & Cote d’Azur holidays (7 Nights or Short Break), our guides provide a wealth of knowledge about the local area and its history as you’re transported on the coach and, of course, throughout your trip. This gives you a really solid foundation to know what to look out for. Cannes is roughly a 30 minute bus ride from Nice Airport, which gives you plenty of time to get to know your guide and your fellow travellers!
To keep things simple, I’ve put together a few top tips of things you can see and do in Cannes:
Cannes is, of course, the home of the world-famous Film Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors (including the celebrities) every year. However, there is much more to Cannes than its festivals! It isn’t a big city, so you are able to visit the vast majority of the sights on foot. Here’s my top three:
1. Visit the local food market
During the walking tour of Cannes, you’ll visit the local food market, which is situated right in the centre of the city. Here you can sample some of the top local delicacies including olives, cheeses and even escargots or snails for the uninitiated as well as lots more amazing authentic French food.
One of my recommendations is to make sure you try the ‘Socca’, a special Niçoise-type of large flatbread made from a base of chick-peas, freshly cooked in a purpose-built furnace in a matter of minutes from an extremely friendly (and passionate) Cannes-local called Tomas. His humour is infectious and he claims his Socca is the best you can get... There are, however, multiple different foods available in the market, as well as lots of restaurants all around if you’re in need of something a bit more substantial.
2. Take a stroll in Cannes Old Town
One of the highlights of the walking tour of Cannes is the visit to the old town. There is something truly authentic about the architecture and, indeed, the atmosphere day and night on this side of the city. You’ll get some spectacular views over Cannes from the top of the hill. It’s a fairly steep climb but there are regular buses which can take you to the top.
You can also find some quaint little restaurants, complete with narrow streets and very attentive and friendly staff. Head up Rue Saint Antoine during your free time for a whole parade of lovely restaurants, whether you’d just like a quick bite, or to go for your evening meal, I’d highly recommend Pacific Express where we got a delicious three-course meal for less than €30 per person!
3. Boulevard de la Croisette
The beachfront in Cannes is a sensational stretch of shoreline, with the main crescent (La Croisette) going from the Old Town to overlook the Palais de Festivals (the main venue for the Cannes Film Festival).
The walk along the coastline will take you past a number of different hotels, including the world-famous Carlton Hotel, where ‘To Catch a Thief’ starring Grace Kelly & Cary Grant was filmed. The building is a clear focal point on the Croisette due to the hotel’s Belle Epoque façade; a style that is seen throughout the French Riviera, particularly in Cannes and Nice.
During the quieter months, you’ll get a real sense of how the Cannes-locals live, with many enjoying some lunch or perhaps a glass of wine in one of the numerous beachfront restaurants, as well as the more traditional image of people enjoying a good game of Chess or French Boules. In summer, and particularly during festival season, there is significantly more people walking and sitting along La Croisette, with a great ‘buzz’ about the place as the city comes to life.
With other spectacular locations such as Antibes, Nice and Monaco just a short distance away, and great public transport links from Cannes, you’ll have no problem getting the full French Riviera experience on a Travel Department holiday. You certainly will if you book our 7 Night Cannes & Côte d’Azur Holiday!
Keep an eye out for more upcoming articles on things to do in Nice, Monaco and other fantastic Travel Department holiday destinations.