Cannes beaches are the place to experience European tourism, with crowds of sun umbrellas, hordes of fashionable tourists, and plenty of bars and restaurants. Cannes is one of the most important seaside resort towns of the French Mediterranean beaches, located on the Cote d’Azur in the south of France. A rather large town, the city retains some of its historic charm with hotels designed in a period style, old clock towers and fountains, yet it also embraces the commercialism of a tourist town.
Plage de la Croisette
The main strip of the Cannes beaches is the Plage de la Croisette, where tourists come to see and be seen. The beach isn’t private in a strict sense of the word, though it is crowded with tourists from the swanky hotels in the area, you can join the crowd on the beach for a fee. The fee covers the rental of a sun umbrella, mattress and lounge chair, allowing you to soak up the sun in style. The Plage de la Croisette certainly isn’t the place you should go if you’re looking for relaxed seclusion, but as it extends throughout most of the town’s waterfront, it is the most visible and easiest beach to access. If you’d like to enjoy the waterfront without joining the crowds on the beach, just take a stroll along the promenade, where you can get your fill of people-watching and enjoy the view of the ocean under the shade of palm trees.
Plage du Midi
For free Cannes beaches, head to the eastern and western sides of town, where some municipal beaches are open to the public. Plage du Midi is an easy ten minutes’ walk to the west of the Vieux Port and is a public beach that boasts nice stretches of sand (unlike the pebbly beaches found at many French Mediterranean beaches). Although the beach is narrow and not quite as luxurious as Plage de la Croisette, the water is clean and the sand is tolerably soft. This is where locals go to the beach in Cannes, and you’ll see lots of families hanging out, having a picnic, and having fun. In the summer, public beaches in Cannes are quite crowded, but at least they’re free.
Located east of Port Canto, this is another popular public beach in Cannes. While you don’t have to pay to access this strip of sand, you’ll probably want to bring your own beach mat to avoid small pebbles in the sand.
Ile Saint-Honorat and Ile Sainte-Marguerite
If you’re looking for French Mediterranean beaches with a little more privacy and seclusion, your best bet might be to take the ferry to one of Cannes’ outlying islands. The two main islands are Ile Saint-Honorat, fifteen minutes away by ferry, and Ile Sainte-Marguerite, 30 minutes away. These islands offer a more relaxed experience, with small boutiques and restaurants and some less crowded beaches. Sainte-Marguerite is larger, with a greater area to walk, including a forest and a historic fort where the man in the iron mask, the mysterious historical figure that was immortalized in Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers books, was said to have been imprisoned. Aside from that, the islands are a great place to get away from the crowds that line Cannes’ main municipal beaches.