Cannes Promenade de la Croisette overlooking the ocean

Cannes Cruise Port Guide: Promenade, Old Town & Beach Bliss

Cannes, the glittering gem of the French Riviera, beckons cruises with its promise of sun, glamour, and a taste of the good life! While organized excursions offer convenience, exploring Cannes independently puts you in the driver’s seat.

This DIY guide for Cannes cruise port visitors unlocks the best sights, experiences, and practical tips for a day ashore you’ll design yourself. Whether you long to stroll iconic boulevards, savour local flavours, or escape to idyllic islands, get ready to discover the beauty of Cannes on your own terms.

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Cannes Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? 😎😎😎😎😎 Easy Peasy!

My DIY Shore Excursion rating for Cannes cruise port is 😎😎😎😎😎. Here’s why:

  • Location, location, location! Cannes is a tender port but you’ll usually be dropped off close by the Old Port and the heart of Cannes, so exploring on foot is a breeze.
  • A taste of the Riviera: Enjoy easy access to the famous Cannes beaches, perfect for a relaxed seaside experience!
  • Day trip options: If Cannes isn’t your only target, the train station is a short 15-minute walk away. Hop on to visit nearby Nice or Monaco!

Prefer to head to Nice? Then jump straight to section below on how to do a DIY day trip to Nice from Cannes cruise port

Prefer the glamour of Monaco? Then jump straight to section below for a DIY day trip guide to Monaco. Note that Monaco is further away from Cannes than Nice. If you’re not keen on Cannes at all, then I would recommend visiting Nice.

Cannes (France) Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need to Know

Cannes waterfront near Gare Maritime
Photo by Mike Kit
  • Cannes Tender Pier: Cruise ships will anchor off in the Cannes Bay Area and passengers tendered into either:
    • Quai Laubeuf: 15 mins’ walk to town but very close to beach!
    • Gare Maritime: (used less often) Right next to the Palais des Festivals, made famous by the Cannes Film Festival.
    • Note: Your cruise line’s tender drop off point will always be subject to change, so do check in your daily cruise newsletter.
    • First Timer at a Tender Port? Then check out my blog post on what to expect – Tendering 101 & FAQs.
  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: French
  • Official websites: Cannes Office de Tourisme, Palm Bus (local bus authority)
  • Recommended Transport App: Use Google Maps for bus routes or check train timetables at SNCF Connect
  • eSIM for roaming in France: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when you’re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout
  • My Cannes Cruise Port Map: 👇 You can click on upper right hand corner to see a larger map. Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. (If it’s not loading, click here to see it on Google Maps). Or download the official map (PDF) here.

Cannes: Must-See Sights for your DIY Excursion

1. Le Suquet (Old Town)

Escape the modern bustle of Cannes and step back in time in Le Suquet, the city’s enchanting old town. As you ascend the hill, leave the designer boutiques behind and enter a world of winding cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses adorned with flower boxes, and the remnants of ancient fortifications.

At the summit of Le Suquet sits the Musée de la Castre (aka Musée des explorations du monde), housed in a medieval castle. Explore its collections of Mediterranean antiquities, admire its panoramic views, and climb the watchtower for an unforgettable perspective of the city, coastline, and the Lérins Islands. Just beside the castle, the 16th-century church of Notre Dame d’Esperance further adds to the historic charm. Lose yourself in the maze-like streets of Le Suquet. Stroll past hidden art galleries, savour a coffee in a quaint square, or browse the local shops for souvenirs.

2. Palais des Festivals et des Congrès: Where the Stars Align

Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès remains a must-see landmark. This iconic building is the heart of Cannes’ cinematic legacy. (2024 Dates: Cannes Film Festival run from 14 May to 25 May.)

Search for the handprints of legendary actors and directors embedded in the pavement, inspired by the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. There’s close to 400 hand prints, including Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Leonardo Dicaprio, Sylvester Stallone, Nicole Kidman just to name a few. So have fun searching for your favourite actor’s handprint!

3. Promenade de la Croisette: The Heart of Cannes Glamour

Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes during sunset
Image by christophe thierry from Pixabay

The Promenade de la Croisette embodies the timeless allure of Cannes. This iconic seaside boulevard stretches along the glittering Mediterranean, lined with palm trees, designer boutiques, and luxurious hotels. Stroll along the wide promenade and soak in the atmosphere. People-watch from a chic cafe terrace, window-shop at high-end stores, or simply enjoy the sea breeze and views of the yachts bobbing in the harbour.

The Croisette is also home to some of Cannes’ most famous beach clubs. Rent a sun lounger for a day of seaside relaxation, or indulge in a gourmet lunch with your toes in the sand. As the sun sets, the promenade comes alive with twinkling lights and the promise of an unforgettable evening in Cannes.

Insider Tip: Ride the Palm Imperial bus (aka Bus #8) from Quai Laubeuf (where your tender most likely dropped you off) along the entire Promenade de la Croisette and back. It’s known as the “Palm Imperial” as it goes to Palm Beach – the end of the Promenade – and then returns to Quai Laubeuf. Tickets are €3.40 return, cash directly from the driver. Download timetables here.

4. Marché Forville: A Feast for the Senses

Marché Forville, Cannes’ bustling covered market, has stalls overflowing with colorful displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, fragrant herbs, glistening seafood, artisanal cheeses, and tempting charcuterie. Sample Provençal olives, pick out the perfect picnic lunch or grab a traditional socca (chickpea flatbread) for a delicious snack as you explore. There’s plenty of ready-to-eat goodies that you will definitely gobble up before you head back to the ship!

Note: Socca is actually from Nice and has its origin supposedly in Italy. If you’re gluten free, this is the best local specialty to try. It’s made of chickpea flour, olive oil and water, so is naturally gluten free.

Beach Bliss: Your Guide to Cannes’ Best Seaside Spots

Cannes beaches along the Promenade de la Croisette
Image by golanalbo from Pixabay

With its prime location on the French Riviera, Cannes offers the perfect opportunity to soak up the sun and enjoy Mediterranean waters. Whether you want a lively atmosphere near the Croisette or a more secluded feel, there’s a beach for you. Don’t forget your beach towel from the ship! 👆 See map above for the beach locations.

1. Plage du Midi

  • Location: West of the Old Port, a walkable distance from the cruise tender drop-off point.
  • Vibe: Relaxed and family-friendly, with a mix of public and private beach clubs.
  • Amenities: Restaurants, beach chair rentals, water sports options.

2. Plage Macé and Plage Zamenhof

  • Location: Central, along the Promenade de la Croisette. Walk from cruise tender drop-off
  • How to Get There: Walk from cruise tender drop-off in 15 mins or catch #15 bus to Plage Macé. Tap your contactless card to pay the €1.70 fare.
  • Vibe: Iconic Cannes scenery, perfect for people-watching and enjoying the ‘see-and-be-seen’ atmosphere.
  • Amenities: Private beach clubs dominate, offering sun loungers, upscale dining, and often live music.

3. Plage de la Bocca

  • Location: Further west of the center.
  • How to Get There: Catch bus #22 from bus stop outside Quai Laubeuf. Tap your contactless card to pay the €1.70 fare.
  • Vibe: Less crowded, popular with locals, a good choice for a more tranquil experience.
  • Amenities: A mix of public space and a few beach clubs

Island Escape: Discover the Charms of l’Île Sainte-Marguerite

Beach on Saint-Marguerite island, with Cannes in the distance, France
Photo courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

Just a short ferry ride away from Cannes lies a haven of natural beauty and intriguing history: l’Île Sainte-Marguerite. This enchanting island 🏝️ offers a delightful change of pace from the bustle of the mainland!

  • Getting there: Hourly departures to Saint-Marguerite from Quai Laubeuf & hourly returns. Check ferry schedules here.
  • Ferry tickets: €18 return for adults, €12 for kids
  • Lunch, water & snacks: There are two restaurants near Fort Royal and two fast food kiosks near the ferry terminal. You can bring your own picnic, as there are designated picnic spots with tables around the island! Bring a water bottle, as there are water fountains for refills.

1. Fort Royal & the “Man in the Iron Mask”

Not Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1998 movie! The “Man in the Iron Mark” was an unidentified prisoner during the reign of King Louis XIV of France. He was imprisoned for 34 years in four French prisons in the custody of the same jailer. One of those prisons was Fort Royal. This unknown prisoner arrived on Sainte-Marguerite island in 1687 and was locked up in a cell built especially for him.

Imprisoned for 11 years here on Île Sainte-Marguerite, his true identity remains a captivating enigma that has puzzled historians for centuries. His cell is open for inspection!

Climb the fort’s ramparts for panoramic views of the island and the sparkling Mediterranean. Within its walls, the Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea) reveals treasures recovered from ancient shipwrecks, offering a glimpse into the maritime history of the region.

2. Explore a Submerged World: The Underwater Ecomuseum

Get ready to explore something truly unique: an underwater art gallery! Just off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, you’ll find a collection of giant sculptures hanging out beneath the waves. These awesome artworks double as homes for fish and other sea creatures, making them an eco-friendly way to have some underwater fun. It’s a totally cool mix of art, ocean exploration, and a little bit of weirdness (in the best way possible!)

  • How to Get There: The underwater museum is about 85m (~275 feet) off the shore, on the south side of the island. You’ll need to be a good swimmer to snorkel over the site. The water has a depth of 3-5 metres (10-16 feet).
  • Not a good swimmer? The water near the eco museum is absolutely pristine! The initial few metres into the water is shallow, so it’s a great spot to just enjoy the water too. All boats are banned in the area.

3. Wander Forest Trails and Hidden Coves

Lace up your walking shoes and follow the island’s trails, shaded by fragrant pines and eucalyptus trees. Enjoy the symphony of birdsong and the scent of the sea as you wind your way through the lush greenery.

Discover hidden coves with secluded beaches, perfect for a refreshing dip! The Crique Pointe du Dragon (Dragon Point Cove) – see map above – is a perfect unspoilt spot to relax!

DIY Day Trip from Cannes to Nice – All You Need to Know

Prefer to visit Nice instead? Here’s how to do a DIY excursion to Nice from Cannes cruise port – Plan your logistics with info below. Then read my DIY Guide on Nice for all the unmissable attractions once you get there, including all the best beaches and famous selfie spots!

  • Cannes Station: 15 minutes’ walk from Quai Laubeuf (where your tender boat most likely dropped you off). It’s marked on my map above 👆
  • Frequent Direct Trains: There’s multiple train services an hour running between Cannes and Nice. So no worries if you miss one!
  • Timetables: Check timetables at SNCF Connect’s website.
  • Journey Time: Typical regional services take about 40 minutes.
  • Tickets: €8.40 one way. Purchase tickets from the machine. No pre-booking needed, as these regional services never sell out. All seats are second class.

DIY Day Trip from Cannes to Monaco – All You Need to Know

Want to experience the glamour of Monaco? Here’s how to do a DIY excursion to Monaco from Cannes cruise port. First, plan your logistics with info below. Then read my DIY Excursion Guide on Monaco for what to see once you get there, including all the essentials tidbits if you want a flutter at the legendary Monte Carlo Casino in the Bond films!

  • Cannes Station: 15 minutes’ walk from Quai Laubeuf (where your tender boat most likely dropped you off). It’s marked on my map above 👆
  • Frequent Direct Trains: Roughly hourly services run between Cannes and Monaco. So make sure you check train times first and see whether you have enough time at port.
  • Timetables: Check timetables at SNCF Connect’s website.
  • Journey Time: About an hour each way.
  • Tickets: €11.30 one way. Purchase tickets from the machine. No pre-booking needed, as these regional services never sell out. All seats are second class.

Now get out there and make the most of your day in Cannes! Whether you seek iconic sights, island escapes, or Riviera relaxation, I hope this DIY guide has empowered you to craft a memorable experience. If you found it useful, please share it with fellow cruisers – let’s spread the independent exploration spirit! Bon voyage!

Featured Image courtesy of Cannes Office de Tourisme

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