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|Cannes (The French pronounce it Kan) is located on the southeast Mediterranean coast of France and is one of the best-known cities in the famous French Riviera.|
Frank Greco photographs
Frank Greco and Ciro T. Fernandes
This destination is famous for hosting the most prestigious fi lm event in the world, the Cannes International Film Festival, held every May May. Since the festival's launch in 1946, the city has attracted the world's rich and famous, making Cannes a great place to people-watch.
There are no direct flights to Cannes from Canada. Visitors need to make a connecting fl ight from a European city (London or Paris are the most popular connection points) and fl y into the Nice International Airport. The city of Nice is located 25 kilometres east of Cannes. From the airport, visitors may rent a car, take a taxi, train or shuttle service to make their way to Cannes.
The city is famous for its luxury shops, fancy restaurants, prestigious hotels, designer fashions, jewellery and unique "l'objets des arts". All of this available along the Boulevard de la Croisette, a two-kilometre stretch of road that hugs the Cannes shoreline–the centre of the city’s tourist activity. Also here, are the popular public beaches. Tourists and locals alike, can be spotted basking in the warm Mediterranean sun (at least during the warm months of the year).
A stroll along the Boulevard leads to the Cannes harbour (located next to the Palais de Festivals, the hub of the Cannes International Film Festival). Moored in the harbour are magnifi cent yachts of every shape, colour and size…mostly very large. Looking out across the harbour one will see four islands. Known as the Lerins, only two of these islands are inhabited, one of them, Île Sainte- Marguerite (St Marguerite Island) is famous for holding "The Man in the Iron Mask" prisoner.
This legend has been made even more famous by the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The actual cell can be visited on the island and unlike in the movie; no one knew the identity of the man in the iron mask because no one ever saw his face. A ferry service is the only way to get to these islands and it departs from the harbour dock at various times throughout the day.
Running parallel to Boulevard de la Croisette is what the French refer to as Le Centre-ville (the downtown or centre of the city area). Here, you'll fi nd cafés, bakeries, ice cream shops, trendy shops, restaurants, supermarkets, the railway station, cinemas, etc. This area is best described as a labyrinth of narrow streets, and tiny squares. It is a treat to get lost in this labyrinth because you’ll discover the most amazing shops, culinary delights, art, people and many new experiences.
Cannes jumps to life in the evening, mostly when major conferences are held in the Palais de Festivals. During this time, walking along Centreville’s narrow streets can be a challenging tight squeeze due to the infl ux of people. Getting a good table at any restaurant is often diffi cult.
Stop at any of the bakeries or cafes, get yourself an authentic “pain au chocolat” (chocolate croissant) with a “café au lait” (frothy coffee with milk–lots of milk), sit along the Boulevard de la Croisette and enjoy the surroundings. I never tire of this experience and yes, I have probably gained a few pounds, but they’re all so delicious!
For those who enjoy seeing palaces, royalty and the playground of the ultra–rich, just take the train to Monaco, it’s only an hour’s journey west of Cannes. Make sure you get a window seat because the train travels along the coastline and the scenery is simply phenomenal. On one side is the rich azure of the Mediterranean, the beaches and dramatic cliffside drops, on the other side are the astonishing hills and towns, so have your camera handy.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, next to the Vatican. A mere 2 square kilometres in size and bordered on three sides by France (only 10 miles away from Italy) Monaco is classifi ed as a small sovereign city-state. With a population close to 33,000, it is the world’s smallest French-speaking country. Its capital and only city is also named Monaco, which doubles as the country. One can walk across the country of Monaco (from edge to edge) in less than one hour. The next time you want to impress your friends, tell them that you walked across a country without resting.
Prince Albert II is Monaco’s head of state (his full name is Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi II). Even though his title is 'Prince,' Prince Albert is actually the King. Many have heard of the fairytale story of his father (Rainier III, Prince of Monaco) who married beautiful actress, Grace Kelly who met her tragic end in this beautiful country.
Besides the Prince's Palace of Monaco (official residence of the Prince of Monaco), Monaco is wellknown for hosting the most prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix in the world; the most famous casino in the world–The Grand Casino, where truly the world’s richest gamble (by law, Monaco's own citizens are not allowed to gamble in the casino), and the beautiful Port d’Hercule lined with the largest and most spectacular yachts you have ever seen.
The best panoramic view of the port and Monaco is from the Palace grounds. Perched on a hill, it is well worth the climb just for the view of the harbour alone… breathtaking.
Monaco ascends in layers (about seven) on the side of a mountain and has very narrow and twisted streets. When arriving by train at one of the most modern stations in Europe, visitors marvel at the harbour and city below when they exit the station. The station is located high on the mountainside (actually carved into the mountain) and I’m sure many of its visitors have wondered how to get down to the harbour from there. Well, Monaco is unique because it has elevators built into the mountain and street levels that will take you from the top level of the city to the bottom harbour level. It is quite an experience.
The country of Monaco is not a place for the budget conscious. Shopping is very exclusive (enormously expensive) although souvenirs are affordable, but most important, and it’s a great place to visit.
Both Cannes and Monaco have the distinction of being the playgrounds of the very rich and famous. Visit these towns and you too, can sample a taste of the highlife. Well, at least we can dream about it. GL
ABOVE The World Famous Grand Casino of Monte-Carlo, playground of the very rich and a photo spot for everyone else. Seen in many James Bond movies.
TOP A mild evening in Cannes produces picturesque scenes with the moon perfectly positioned and lighting up the night sky.