Champagne and caviar, diamonds and tiaras – Cannes is the great dame of the French Riviera. Whether you travel during the off-season or board a private flight to Cannes for the world-renowned film festival in May, there’s no denying the red carpet royal treatment in this resort hotspot. Once a small fishing village that only saw the likes of monks and pilgrims, today’s Cannes is synonymous with wealth, extravagance and superstardom.
While the city radiates the rich and famous, there’s plenty of room for budget travelers on a Cannes flight. Don your paparazzi shades and stroll the city in style. Cannes is home to one of the most walked on promenades in all of Europe, featuring chic boutiques, glitzy nightclubs and pristine beaches. While the annual Cannes Film Festival is the best known event, hundreds of other conferences take place in Cannes. From international galas to the Mimosa Festival, it’s hard not to be entertained in the glorious French Riviera. Because the city is busy year-round, cheap flights to Cannes and discounted hotel rooms are hard to come by. Plan your trip in advance and experience the charisma and charm that Cannes has to offer…
In a moment between the Mediterranean breezes and the crisp mountain air, the freshness of Cannes hits you. Pleasantly diverse, the hot, dry summer gets complimented by warm and balmy spring and autumn, when temperatures settle around 50F and 60F. Winter doesn’t get much cooler than that, but does produce abrupt and hefty rainfall. For prime shoreline enjoyment, book flights to Cannes in the summer.
There’s no bad time to book flights to Cannes, since the summer offers beach weather, the spring holds the Film Festival, and winter presents a calm atmosphere. Decide which benefit you’re looking for, and start your planning.
Peak Season: If you’re like most glamour-seeking sightseers, the Cannes International Film Festival means three things: intriguing art, high fashion, and high-profile celebrities. For an “in” to all the action, plan your flight to Cannes far in advance to ensure your place in mid-May. Although you may have a tough time getting around the security, it’s possible for locals and tourists to crowd around what is known as the “bunker” to spot the prim and polish celebs at their finest. As the Festival’s curtains close, summer time kicks off, marking the flood of students and visitors who rush the beaches for sunlight and shoreline.
Off-peak Season: Although the city is relatively busy year-round, cheap flights to Cannes are found in November, when things slow down and there are fewer crowds. Another slow time, and subsequently a good time to find cheap flights to Cannes, is right before the Cannes Film Festival, when most tourists haven’t yet invaded the city. Beware though– strong winds, called La Mistral make their way in April.
Cannes is a walking city, so it’s best to set out on foot downtown. Buses can either be structured and expensive or informal and irregular. Tourists often take bus 8, as it runs along the coast toward la Croisette while stopping at the major attractions. If you’ve done your research, you can flag down an Elo Bus; just know that it has no permanent stops. You can also take advantage of Cannes’ gorgeous seaside scenery by taking a boat up and down the coast or weave through some of the islands. There are shuttle buses between Sainte Marguerite and Saint Honorat and many tourists rent canoes or yachts. If you’re splurging, you can rent an entire crew to set off on a bigger boat.
Braderie de Lille: This 30-day fete begins in mind-August and runs until mid-September every year, so book flights to Nice at the beginning of autumn to ensure your involvement in the fun. Celebrate with thousands of locals by eating mussels, grilled fish, French fries and drinks, and saunter through the markets where artists and craftspeople sell their handmade goods.
La Croisette: Celebrities are hard to ignore. While you may not get to fly in a private jet, you can at least book a flight to Cannes when the stars do. If you’re searching for the French version of Rodeo Drive, head straight from the airport to La Croisette. A-listers crowd the street, especially in May, to take advantage of the exclusive boutiques and lush scenery. The core of the town, La Croisette offers an avenue for both locals and tourists to relish the palm trees, hotels, and beaches that lace the Mediterranean shoreline. So strut yourself along the catwalk, or ease yourself into a comfy café chair and sip a cocktail and watch the show on the sidelines. This is a great place to thrown celeb names in!
Cannes Film Festival: For more than 60 years, one festival in France as attracted millions to the mastery, innovation, and constant change of cinema. With limitless boundaries, the prestige and quality of films each year grow in massive quantities, and the sheer amount of entries alone is enough to receive international media coverage. Public and private funding pool around 20 million euros each year to throw a celebration of arts and artists galore. But if you’re more into the glamour than the guild, then book a flight to Cannes months in advance for a chance to spot celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as they strut throughout the city’s limits and the festival’s venues. You may not be an invitation holder, but you can watch the stars instead of the screen, if you perch on the bunker with the locals and watch from above. For budget minded travelers who want to plan a trip revolving around the Palais du Festival, you can find cheaper accommodations 2-3 miles from La Croisette in the Cannes La Bocca and Le Cannet districts. For a more remote stay, a quick 25-minute train ride from Nice allows for more affordable fares.
Train Tours: Anxious to get moving after your Cannes flight? Hop on the train. The Petit Train is the perfect way to see the old and new parts of the city separately. The diesel-powered white-sided vehicles run hourly tours all day, sometimes even as late at 11:30 pm. (as of October 2008). Choose from the modern tour, or the old city tour. The modern takes you around the casino and La Croisette areas to see the glitz and glam of luxury, while the old city tour boards at Le Suqet (opposite the hotel Majestic), and runs through the more antiquated parts of Cannes. If you’re feeling ambitious, block out two hours and do both.
Tipping: Manners are highly regarded in France, and especially in upscale Cannes. Tipping is no exception. Since Cannes is not exactly considered a low-income city, patrons are expected to tip at restaurants, in cabs, and for other services. Taken very seriously, French cuisine is full of local flavor and produce, and chefs and wait staff alike take pride in its production. A 10 percent service charge is typically added, but it’s up to the guest as to how much more he or she would like to add. A general rule of thumb is to add another 10 percent, depending on how upscale the restaurant is. Taxis and other service providers should also receive percent.