Turning 26 in Cannes
For as long as I can remember, my sister and I have sought adventure in celebration of our birthdays. Travelling to wherever our budgets can afford has become as much of a tradition as crying with laughter over Christmas cracker jokes. We’ve pottered around the piazzas of Florence; got lost in a maze in Vienna; sampled many a Venetian Bàcari; gorged on chocolate after chocolate in Brussels, as well as exploring the English university cities of Bath and Cambridge.
Never before had we set foot in France - unless you count a (rather stressful) stop-off at Charles de Gaulle on the way to Florence. So, when Chloé forwarded me a link to a hotel in Cannes, I was hesitant. What was there to do in a city as small as Cannes in low-season? Quite a lot, as it happens.
We arrived at Nice airport to glorious sunshine, and soon figured out our onward journey to Cannes (tip: don’t pay €80 for a taxi; instead take the train from Saint-Augustin for less than €10). A short walk from the train station landed us in the centre of Cannes’ main shopping destination, La Croisette. And, sandwiched between Gucci and Dior, was our place of stay: Hôtel Barriére Le Majestic.
It must be stated that, had we not happened upon the deal of the decade, there was no way we would’ve been able to afford our stay at Le Majestic. With its gold Rolex timepieces, grand chandeliers and polished marble bathrooms, Le Majestic exudes exclusivity. No stone was left unturned during our stay: from the moment we were greeted, our bags lifted from aching shoulders, to the minute we ventured to our room, laden with complimentary treats, we were made to feel like Queens.
On our first night in the city best-known for its eponymous film festival, we ventured to the charming streets of Le Suquet, settling on Le Cirque for dinner. Although a tad too early to eat, we ordered some cocktails and sank into the plush, velvet chairs of the restaurant, content in the knowledge that we could browse the menu without any pressure to order immediately. We chatted to the friendliest of waiters, who recommended to us the best cheese shop in Cannes (more on that later!) before stopping to sip our drinks.
With bellies rumbling, we soon turned our attention to the star of the show: the camembert. Served warm with a drizzle of truffle oil here and a smattering of hazelnuts there, the camembert was an absolute delight - a prerequisite for what was to be a winning meal. For my main, I devoured a mouth-watering sea bass fillet, whilst Chloé ate every last bit of her cod.
After a much-needed rest, we were ready to enjoy our second day in the French Riviera. We walked along the promenade before turning our attention to one of the city’s most popular spots for locals: Ceneri. Lining the walls was every type of cheese imaginable, from comté to camembert; edam to epoisses. Though limited in her English, the cheesemonger was only too happy to chat to us about our requirements. I left armed with a camembert infused with Provence wine and a hefty chunk of my all-time favourite, comté.
We made a pit-stop for macarons at Ladurée, before admiring the spectacular sunset, and heading over to La Potiniére du Palais for dinner. Located a stone’s throw from the Palais des Festivals this smart, French bistro offers a simple yet stunning menu. Not usually a fan of fillet, I must admit I was impressed by how tender my steak was. Served on a bed of buttery greens, and accompanied by creamy mash, my fillet steak was complemented by a generous dollop of truffle butter. De-li-cious. Chloé and I ended the evening by sharing the most delectable of lemon tarts, before walking back to the hotel with more than satisfied stomachs.
Our final day in Cannes was the day of my 26th birthday. My sister, unfortunately, forgot to pack her swimsuit, so I headed to the spa solo. Although slightly disappointed that there wasn’t a pool, I soon made myself at home in the relaxation area. Luckily, I was the only person there, and so I put my feet up, whipped out my copy of House Beautiful, and read - slouching off to the steam room and sauna whenever the hell I felt like it!
Feeling refreshed, I headed back to the room, and was met by a continental breakfast, alongside two gift bags. Chloé, it later transpired, had been on somewhat of a wild goose chase in search of the best birthday cake a girl could ever want. After opening my Pandora charm, I lunged for the deep maroon-coloured gift bag, emblazoned with the words ‘Lenôtre Paris.’ What I found was the most decadent of desserts, complete with a mini candle. (God, I love her!).
We headed for the Musée de la Castre, stopping on the way for our obligatory lamppost shot (we’ve taken one in every place we’ve visited), before arriving at the prettiest of courtyards. Cannes’ castle sits atop a steep hill, and so the views out over the harbour are just magnificent. Disappointingly, the castle itself was closed (note to self: check the opening times beforehand), however, this allowed us the opportunity to walk a little further along the promenade.
With the sun beaming down on me, and the comforting lull of the tide, I got to thinking about my initial reservations about coming to Cannes. After three days of cheese, wine, shopping and strolling, I have no doubt in my mind that those assumptions were simply untrue. From the ease of our onward journey, to the attentiveness of the waiting staff; the local produce to the mix of both high street and high end boutiques, pretty much everything was perfect. Would I come back to the French Riviera’s answer to Old Hollywood? Oh, absolutely…
Have you ever visited Cannes? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, below.