Cannes: Spending the Xmas holidays on the French Riviera


When I arranged an apartment in Cannes for three weeks, my thinking was that it would provide a good base to explore nearby regions.  Meanwhile the Riviera here is a little more protected from the wind and rain (with the mountains behind it has its own little eco system going on), so it’s a more pleasant place to stay.

It’s always strange visiting places like this out of season. I like it: there’s space to move around and there’s plenty of victims for me to practice my incredibly bad French with.

Cannes’ main thing is obviously the film festival in May; other than that people come mainly for the beaches. On my first day it was 15 degrees and I spotted three people enjoying the delights of Cannes beach. No I didn’t join them. Even though I’m British and grew up with swimming trips to the English channel in May, these days I don’t take my clothes off for anything less than 24 degrees. That rule applies both indoors and out.


Nevertheless it was quite pleasant walking along the Croisette in the sun, albeit with cashmere scarf and Uggs.

You wouldn’t really come here for sightseeing in the conventional sense. I downloaded an app and even they were hard-pressed to find anything to list under sightseeing. When item number three (of five) is ‘painted wall’ then you know not to expect much on the sightseeing front.


There are indeed around 15 ‘painted walls’ dotted around the city, depicting (as you might expect) movies and stars of the cinema.  I haven’t found them all yet, but there’s still time.


There is also a castle. You climb up a hill for around ten minutes and are rewarded with some fab views of the town.

Of course Europe in December isn’t complete without a Christmas market. This being upmarket Cannes however the market contains a champagne and oyster bar along with the ice rink and the usual array stalls offering ‘gift ideas’.

Christmas market

Christmas market.  I’d recommend the vin Chaud

At weekends there is a flea market.  This is probably one of the more exclusive flea markets I have come across.   Good for buying cast-off Hermes scarves, although they also had some interesting art and some old postcards/photos of the region.  Cannes is good generally for designer label shopping, if that’s your thing.  I’m not much of a shopper though; I have far too many things already, and a lifestyle that means I don’t get to spend much time with the things I already own.  I did part with some money to buy a couple of very kitsch 1960s postcards though.

The flea market.  You just know that the designer bags for sale here are not the usual market stall fakes.

The flea market. You just know that the designer bags for sale here are not the usual market stall fakes.

I don’t recognize Cannes too much from my last time here, although that was a long time ago and I don’t remember being interested in much then other than meeting boys. Meeting ‘boys’ is still relatively easy in Cannes but times change and these days I get more excited about an artisan boulangerie or a hike through a forest.

2 replies »

  1. I remember buying a stack of old postcards from the flea market. These became my staple for years with the remarkable cards – some from the 1st and 2nd world wars. Can’t imagine being there anytime but during the Cannes Film Fest though! 🙂

    • Yeah it’s very different in December and very quiet. I like it though. Lots of room in the cafes and people have more patience to deal with you.

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