Three Days in Cannes

When I started planning my 2021 trip, I so, so wanted to return to St. Raphael (see The Riviera for the Uncool)    which we visited in 2015.  It is a charming and beautiful town but I also wanted to see some of the Cinque Terre (staying in La Spezia) and getting there from St. Raphael would be a long difficult trip.

So then I decided that Nice would be a good location to see some of the Cote d’Azur before continuing to La Spezia.  But after reading a novel set in Nice, I became concerned that it was too big and wouldn’t give us the experience we wanted.

So I started looking at Cannes.  According to a Rick Steves’ video it’s basically shopping, lying on the beach and being seen.  But after finding a very pretty hotel (see Where to Stay, Hotel de Provence below) at a good price, I threw it out as an option, with full disclosure to my sister and niece.  I added that we could spend a day on Ile St. Marguerite (see The Riviera for the Uncool) and possibly do a day trip to Antibes.

Rick Steves’ video was fairly accurate so I’m going to structure this post day by day rather than around activities since walking, eating and drinking were our main forms of entertainment.

Day One

We arrived from Paris on a Sunday afternoon after about a 4 hour train trip, and cabbed it to our hotel.  We were immediately thrilled with the hotel; much bigger rooms than our hotel in Paris, nice front garden and lounge….    So after unpacking we walked to the promenade.  We thought we’d died and gone to heaven after 2 rainy, chilly days in Paris.  It was warm and the sea was beautiful.

We were starving after our long train trip so the first thing we did was find a restaurant along the promenade.  I didn’t notice the name of the restaurant when we sat down but luckily my niece took a photo fo the lovely le Vesuvio (http://vesuvio-cannes.com/).  I know we had two bottles of rosé, a fabulous appetizer of shrimp in something similar to wonton wrappers with a spicy Asian sauce, a pizza and a salmon tartare, I think.  Then we had two fabulous desserts; a crème brulee and an ice cream concoction with caramel sauce.  OMG!!

Afterwards we walked up and down the promenade taking pictures of the sunset over the Mediterranean.  Mama mia, it was beautiful!

We finally walked back to Hotel de Provence and had a night cap in the hotel lounge.

Day Two

Our second day (a Monday) didn’t go too smoothly.  First we went out in search of a café for a cappuccino or espresso but unlike Italy where there’s a bar/café on every corner, we couldn’t find one.  The same was true in Paris.  So, based on incorrect information from the U.S. Embassy in Rome (see Travel in the Time of COVID post) we decided to get our COVID  tests.  We quickly found a pharmacy near the hotel with a COVID test tent outside.  The tests were quick and fairly easy but we could not get the tests to download to our phones.  So we walked back to the hotel, got coffees and sat on the patio, finally getting the tests to download.

We checked the times for the ferries to Ile St. Marguerite and thought we could make the next one.  But even though we were practically running, it took us a lot longer to get there than we expected.  Not only was the harbor much further than it looked on the map, the ticket office was difficult to find.  By the time we got there the noon ferry had left and there wasn’t another ferry for an hour and a half.

Thinking that wouldn’t give us enough time on the island, we made a crazy decision to take the train to Antibes.  We hustled to the train station after a quick stop at the hotel and even with two stops between Cannes and Antibes, it only took about 30 minutes to get there.

As we exited the train station, we had no idea which direction to go so I suggested we walk to the harbor first.  We took lots of pictures of the yachts and super yachts, amazed that there are this many people with so much money.  [And hopefully, given the situation in Ukraine, the French government has seized any that belong to Russian oligarchs.]  Later we even saw an office advertising insurance for super yachts!!

After taking pictures of the harbor, we saw some signs pointing toward the ‘center’.  So we wandered through lovely winding streets to Place National.  It was after 2:00 pm by then and most of the restaurants around the square were closing.  But I spotted a small restaurant (Bistro Milo) that seemed to be open.  I went in and confirmed that they were serving and we got a table in the sun.  We had a lovely lunch of Croque Monsieur and salmon club sandwiches plus our usual glasses of rosè.

We sat in the warm sun for as long as possible, then did a walkabout, first circling the square, then up and down streets window shopping.  Unfortunately we’d forgotten it was  a Monday and most of the stores were closed.  So we could only look and take pictures.

At one point, we ended up in a square with a beautiful garden dedicated to the resistance.  Heartbreakingly lovely.

We finally found ourselves in the more modern section of the town, not far from the station.    We sat for a while in a small park but it started to sprinkle.  We hustled to the station and caught the next train to Cannes.  And then the disaster began.  Between Antibes and Cannes, it started pouring making visibility poor.  Plus we thought we would have  two stops on the way back.  Nope.  We realized too late that we had missed the main station.  We got off at a tiny station on the edge of Cannes in a downpour.  The station was closed and initially my niece insisted we get on the next train going back towards Cannes.  I thought that  was fairly dangerous and then we finally realized there weren’t anymore trains.

So we slogged up to the street above the station and decided to walk towards some lights thinking we might be able to find a store or restaurant that would call a cab for us.  Then my niece found that her Uber app worked and damned if she wasn’t able to get a car for us in less than 10 minutes, a really nice guy in a Lexus who got us to the hotel for less than 15 euros.

We arrived looking like drowned rats and hustled up to our rooms, got out of our soaking wet clothes, showered and changed. My niece was already in the ‘lounge’ when I came down.  I joined her and we went back through our decision and our day.  After my sister joined us, we decided to have another bottle of wine and got royally toasted.

Day Three

A Day on Ile St. Marguerite

When my sister and I stayed in St. Raphael in 2015 (see The Riviera for the Uncool post) we did a day trip to Ile St. Marguerite and absolutely loved it.  So our third day in Cannes we headed out between 9:00 and 10:00 am, stopping first for cappuccino, espresso and pastries at a cute little ‘bar’ between the hotel and the promenade. 

The Riviera Line has regular trips to the island (see http://www.riviera-lines.com/en/ferry-cannes-sainte-marguerite-island/ for times) and I think we caught the 11:00 am ferry.  I was glad we had scoped it out the day before so it didn’t take as long to find the ticket office.  As we waited for the ferry, we took pictures of the harbor.

It’s about a 15 minute boat ride to the island and after we docked, we checked the map to figure out our route.  There’s a paved street that leads directly from the dock to Fort Royal, so we decided to go there first.  In 2015 we walked to the fort but didn’t go in.  This time we bought tickets which allow you to walk around the grounds and visit the museum.  I’ve scanned in the brochure for the fort which has some interesting background information.  FortRoyal

It was a gorgeous day although a bit windy (and, as we learned later, a bit muddy) and first we walked through the grounds taking pictures of the views as well as the interesting buildings.  The views of the Cote d’Azur are spectacular which must have made imprisonment even more bitter.

The fort itself has been in existence since the 17th century and is known as the prison where ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ was held. The French government also imprisoned Protestant clergy there following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes.    The museum has an extensive and interesting collection of underwater archaeological finds as well as information on how the prison operated and how prisoners lived, using that term in its loosest possible sense.  We probably spent close to an hour in the museum looking at both the exhibits and the prison cells.

After the fort we walked to the other side of the island.  We had to back track a couple of times due to muddy trails but we found several places where we could take beautiful pictures of the island as well as the views across the bay.

We also found the ‘cimetiere’ for combatants of the Crimean War.  My sister and I had been impressed with its beauty and peacefulness when we visited in 2015 and we knew we wanted to see it again.

We walked back to the area below the fort, following a trail along the ‘coast.’  We had hoped that the little restaurant along the beach would be open for lunch or a vino.  Unfortunately it wasn’t.  

So we had to backtrack to the path that leads to the dock area where we caught the next ferry to Cannes.  On the return trip across the bay, we saw dozens of ‘kite surfers’ flying across the water.  Crazy!

After returning to Cannes we strolled around the area near the harbor, then walked along the promenade looking for a lunch spot.  We decided on 72 Croisette, initially sitting outside then moving inside when the wind picked up. We had a fun lunch of shrimp with avocados, a meat and cheese tray with a side of ‘frites’ and our usual rosè wine.

 

 

We came back to the hotel, cleaned up and re-packed, meeting downstairs around 7:00 pm planning to have a free vino before dinner but the staff didn’t set out glasses; possibly not wanting to encourage us to drink in the lounge.

We headed out to a nearby restaurant, finding it was a Michelin Star and reservation only.  So we tried a teeny tiny restaurant, Ericka, and had a pleasant dinner, chicken risotto for Rachelle and me, salmon for Sue, dessert and a nice bottle of red.

Where to Stay

Hotel de Provence

With a lovely front garden, balconies, spacious rooms and a short walk to the promenade, this was by far our favorite hotel on this trip. The staff is reasonably pleasant and offer a free glass of wine in the evening. They didn’t even seem to mind when we came in looking like drowned rats; nor later when we sat in the bar having a bottle of wine laughing about getting stranded in a torrential rainstorm.

While I generally prefer cities or larger towns with a mix of places to go such as the museums and gardens of Firenze or Roma, I enjoyed the laid back vibe of Cannes.  If you’re looking for a place to have a few quiet days of relaxation, sun and palm trees, Cannes may be the place for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: