Discover our local gay Cannes guide and insiders’ recommendations, for best gay bars, beaches, clubs, restaurants, museums, monuments, shopping …
Cannes is the second biggest city of the French Riviera, after Nice.
It claims to be the most glamorous and luxurious city on the Cote d’Azur.
It might be true as you will see plenty of Ferraris, Porsche, and Jaguars on the seaside promenade and in the narrow streets.
You will see as well plenty of beautiful girls (and boys?) dressed in Dolce Gabbana, Chanel, YSL, Versace, and of course Louboutin stilettos.
In Cannes, it’s fashion week every day.
The city twins with Beverly Hills in California, Gstaad in Switzerland, Florence in Italy, and Chelsea in London. The City stretches along the famous Croisette, a seafront promenade that extends over 3 kilometers.
The city owns some mythical hotels, such as Le Carlton with its Art Nouveau architecture, or the Martinez, its long-time competitor, with its Art Deco design.
Like the Hôtel du Cap in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat or the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco, they are a nestle for international stars.
The city is famous for its Film Festival, considered as the most prestigious in the world, but also one of the most LGBT friendly.
During the Festival, don’t be surprised if you meet Sharon Stone, Lady Gaga or Gwyneth Paltrow on the terrace of a café, in a gelateria, or during a luxury shopping trip in Rue d’Antibes.
Maybe you will see Elton John or Ricky Martin in the gay-friendly bars. Wherever you are, you can’t escape the monstrous Palais des Festivals, a building with the inelegance of a Bunker and the flash of a Saudi Palace.
It is a feat to organize such a glamorous event in such an ugly building.
For a panoramic view of the old city and the Mediterranean Sea, and the famous Bunker, you should have a drink at Radisson Blue rooftop.
On the hill, the old town, called Le Suquet, recalls the modest past of Cannes, which was once a simple fishing village.
The district is full of churches, typical small squares, beautiful facades and palaces are hidden in improbable alleys and everywhere superb and often overpriced restaurants.
For some culture and art, you can visit the beautiful Musée de la Castre, housed in the remains of a medieval castle.
From its gardens and terrace, you will discover a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean, the whole region and once again of the infamous Bunker.
The art collection is as exciting as it is eclectic.
There is a beautiful collection of African, pre-Columbian and Oceanian art, Egyptian antiquities, musical instruments from all over the world, and also the works of artists and painters from Cannes.
You could as well climb to the heights of the city, to visit some splendid seaside villas built in the last century.
Among them, Villa Rothschild and Villa Fiorentina, surrounded by magnificent botanical gardens, are open to visitors.
On weekends, a visit to the Forville market is a must, to buy or taste local products, such as pork, wild boar, duck or poularde sausages, foie gras, olive oil, tapenades and other specialties that will make you fat in just 48 hours.
You’ll go to the gym when you get home.
So, for now, enjoy the life, the sun, the food and the charms of the Côte d’Azur.
Day trip from Cannes
From Cannes, you can plan a lovely trip to the nearby Island of Saint-Honorat, which is part of the Lérins archipelago.
You can get there by boat, in just 20 minutes from the port for a very decent price.
Monks have inhabited the island for hundreds of years, and they produce an excellent wine that you can buy at the monastery.
Close to the monastery, there is a beautiful restaurant called La Tonnelle, set in a fantastic surrounding, with a breathtaking sea view. Booking is highly recommended.
The crowd can be very dense in summer, but the setting is lovely.
The environment is preserved, the coves superb and the water is obviously crystal clear.
The abandoned chapels and cloisters add to the magic of the place.
It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and preserved sites on the Cote d’Azur.
You can also visit the neighboring island of Sainte-Marguerite.
Gay life in Cannes
Cannes was like Saint-Tropez or Taormina, one of the summer spots for the gay jet-set from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Zanzibar, a mythical bar that closed in 2010, was considered the oldest gay venue in Europe.
As early as 1885, records show gay people frequented it.
It was the core of gay life for more than a century, and Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol or George Michael were regulars here.
On the sixties, homoerotic frescoes, representing queer sailors were painted on the ceilings by a Russian artist.
He was inspired by Jean Genet most famous novel, “Querelle de Brest.”
During the Festivals, Zanzibar was the meeting point for all LGBT people working in Cinema and TV industry.
Since the nineties, Cannes has become a little out of fashion for the gay population, and the number of venues decreased considerably.
However, the city remains very gay-friendly, and you will have a great time here.
For a full night out, do not hesitate to drive to Nice, which is only 30 minutes from Cannes.
To know a bit more about France, you can have a look as well on our Gay City guides for Paris, Versailles, Lyon, Nantes, Strasbourg, Montpellier, or Toulouse. Or even for smaller cities such as Cannes, Biarritz, Deauville, Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble or Lille.