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Cannes: A City Apart

Photo: SEMEC-KELAGOPIAN

Global and glamorous, Cannes is linked to some of the world’s greatest events.

Cannes
Photo: SEMEC-FABRE

Cannes has two faces.

One shines as an exceptional “world village” that, each year, hosts thousands of international glitterati. The other is rooted in the history and heritage of the French Riviera.

Internationally renowned for hospitality and luxury, Cannes is home to more than 50 annual events that attract some three million visitors. The city’s busy, year-round calendar includes entertainment, music, advertising, technology and real estate conventions with the annual Cannes Film Festival being the most famous and swanky among them.

A coveted travel destination, this resort town continues to attract fresh creative and economic projects. It consistently develops new spaces for celebration and gastronomy, wellness, shopping, culture and outdoor sports.

Cannes is a city that perpetually renews itself while maintaining its Mediterranean authenticity.

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

Photo: Christophe Bouillon / FDC

The Palais (pronounced pal-ay) stands as the city’s centerpiece. Its contemporary, white facade is punctuated by what has become an iconic and familiar set of outdoor stairs, draped in red carpet for celebrity smiles and waves during the Cannes Film Festival, for which the Palais was built. It adorns the Croissette, a main street of sorts flanked by some of Cannes’ best and most historic hotels on one side and glorious beaches on the other.

According to the Cannes tourism center, the Palais is the only convention center in the world to have certifications for quality, health and safety; environment and social responsibility. It also is the largest public events venue on the Cote D’Azur.

History in the Mix

Before it was home to luxe hotels and events, Cannes was a small fishing port surrounded by swamps. But its coastline and the nearby Lérins Islands were the sites of centuries of military actions and monastic settlements.

Two such places, which today are beautifully serene, are a short ferry ride away from the glamorous city. Île Sainte-Marguerite is known as the Fort Royal, and is the last trace of the region’s Vauban era. It houses the Musée de la Mer and the famous cell inhabited by the Man in the Iron Mask, as well as the Île Saint-Honorat, which is home to a monastery and a famous tower.

The Abbey

Île Saint-Honorat

Île Saint-Honorat is only about a mile offshore from Cannes but feels far from the hustle and bustle of the city. Peaceful and spiritual, it is the second largest of the Lérins Islands. It boasts a vineyard and an abbey, chapels and a fortified monastery. The island has a soothing atmosphere conducive to getting away from the tumult of everyday life.

Rebuilt three times, the abbey was founded around the year 410 by Saint-Honorat. Its grounds include a cloister and chapter house dating from the 12th and 13th centuries and a neo-Romanesque-style church built between 1874 and 1878.

The island’s current community of Cistercian monks settled on the island in 1869. They follow the Rule of Saint-Benedict to the letter and embody 16 centuries of monastic tradition. One mass, six services and three-and-a-half hours of prayer a day punctuate the lives of those in the monastery, whose main source of income is the ancestral production of wines and liqueurs.

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