Every May, people jam the scenic town of Cannes, France, for its internationally renowned film festival, but that's far from the only time to visit this Cote d'Azur destination. Cannes offers mild weather year-round and a number of attractions to see, though bear in mind that many of Cannes' shopping and restaurant choices are open only seasonally. Travelers to Cannes October-April will have fewer choices.
Any time of the year, stroll along the famous Boulevard de La Croisette, the elegant seaside promenade, to the Palm Beach Casino, and visit the old harbor, stopping along the way to take in the majestic seaside hotels that dot this part of the city. Along the Croisette, you'll also find the most luxurious shopping—if you're looking for stores that don't pack such a punch on your wallet, go one street farther to Rue d'Antibes.
One of the most famous markets in the Riviera is the Forville Market in Cannes, just a couple of blocks inland from the port. Early birds are rewarded with the sights and smells of fresh fruit, dozens of varieties of cheese and olives, and an assortment of just-off-the-boat fish, not to mention a peek at French market culture.
In Le Suquet, the historic quarter and the town's oldest district, it's fun just to walk around, looking at the lovely flower gardens and old-fashioned houses. There are quite a few good, traditional restaurants in this historic part of town. For great views of the city, climb to the top of the hill in Le Suquet to the panoramic terrace that overlooks the sea, or hop on a sightseeing boat from the town pier for a quick ride to scenic St. Marguerite Island, famous for having once served as a prison for the real-life titular character of Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask.
Cannes has plenty of sandy beaches—there is a centrally located free strip of beach near the Palais des Festivals and also at the Plage de la Bocca just west of the old port.
The Isles de Lerins are still a short ferry ride away, and just to the north is Grasse, the heart of the national perfume industry. Thousands of tons of flowers are processed there every year, providing the basic ingredients for most of France's major perfume brands.
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