Once the site of a small Ligurian port and later a Roman outpost, it wasn't until the 19th century, when aristocrats began to winter in the area's mild climate, that Cannes became popular. It is said that due to the area's few natural harbors, most ancient activity took place on the Lenin Islands, just off the coast of Cannes. Consequently the history of Cannes is mixed with the history of the islands. In the 1950's, with the beginning of the film festival and a flood of stars, mass tourism transformed this quiet retreat into today's fashionable resort.
Unlike other cities on the French Riviera, Cannes radiates energy. The city is centered on the old port, with a compact central part. Bordered by palm trees and flowers, La Croisette is one of the city's hottest spots and the main promenade running alongside the narrow beach. The old town, Le Suquet, where Gallo-Roman tombs were discovered, provides a medieval feeling and magnificent views of the bay from atop its hill. Cannes can also be used as a starting point to visit the Riviera and the interior. Grasse and St. Paul de Vence are a short drive away. In Cannes, enjoy strolling through the promenade or people watching at a cafÐ ¹. With its glitzy hotels, sandy beaches and famous visitors, this cosmopolitan and sophisticated resort attracts a great variety of tourists.While some travel here for the city's festivals, others come in the hopes of getting close to the wealthy and famous. Whatever the reason, it would be a shame to forego Cannes during a visit to southern France.