Map of Cannes
The old town, known as Le Suquet after the hill on which it stands, provides a great panorama of the twelve-kilometre beach, and has, on its summit, the remains of the fortified priory lived in by Cannes' eleventh-century monks and the beautiful twelfth-century chapelle Ste-Anne. These house the Musée de la Castre (daily except Tues: AprilMay & Sept 10am1pm & 26pm; JuneAug 10am1pm & 37pm; OctMarch 10am1pm & 25pm; €3), which has an extraordinary collection of musical instruments from all over the world, along with pictures and prints of old Cannes and an ethnology and archeology section.
You'll find non-paying beaches to the west of Le Suquet, along the plages du Midi and just east of the Palais des Festivals. But the sight to see is La Croisette, the long boulevard along the seafront, with its palace hotels on one side and private beaches on the other. It's possible to find your way down to the beach without paying, but not easy (you can of course walk along it below the rows of sun beds). The beaches, owned by the deluxe palais-hôtels the Majestic, Carlton and Noga Hilton are where you're most likely to spot a face familiar in celluloid or a topless hopeful, especially during the film festival, though you'll be lucky to see further than the sweating backs of the paparazzi. Alternative entertainment can be had buying your own food in the Forville covered market two blocks behind the mairie, or by wandering through the day's flower shipments on the allées de la Liberté, just back from the Vieux Port.
Strolling on and off the main streets of Cannes rue d'Antibes, rue Meynardier and the promenade de la Croisette is like wading through a hundred current issues of Vogue. If you thought the people on the beach were wearing next to nothing, now you can see where they bought the sunglasses and swimming suits, the moisturizers and creams, the watch, the perfume, and the collar and leash for little Fou-Fou.
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