Nightlife is, of course, a key part of Cannes’ image creation exercise. The place is, at base, a modest, mid-sized town by the seaside. To keep the big names and big bucks rolling in, it has to pile on the glitz.
So you’d better believe that Cannes-by-night can be fervently competitive and ferociously expensive. Those hedge fund managers and Russian oligarchs really aren’t bothered about the exact price of a beer.
It might help, therefore, if you were to start off by winning big at one of the casinos. Cannes has three – more than anywhere else in France. (Monaco has more but isn’t in France.)
- The Palm Beach (+33 497 063715; www.casinolepalmbeach.com) is some way from the centre, out on the Pointe-de-la-Croisette headland. Pretty classy place it is, too - with a gaming terrace giving onto the sea, restaurant, nightclub and private beach. It’s open from 10am-3am, later at weekends and in summer.
- The Casino Barrière (+33 492 987800; www.lucienbarriere.com) is much more central – built into the Festival Palace with a bar, brasserie and restaurant giving onto the port. Open 10am-3am, later at weekends and in summer.
- The Casino Barrière Les Princes (+33 497 061850; www.casino-barriere-lesprinces.com) is, as you’ve probably guessed, another branch of the Barrière Group and perhaps my favourite of all the three casinos. This has nothing to do with the gaming tables (I don’t gamble for the same reason I don’t fight Mike Tyson) and everything to do with the main casino bar – which boasts 300 different whiskies. The restaurant isn’t at all bad, either. The place is at 50, La Croisette, up against the Hotel Palais Stéphanie. Open 10am-4am (5am in summer).
Assuming you’re now loaded, you will find the essence of Cannes’ night-spots gathered on Rue Commandant André and the surrounding little streets between La Croisette and the Rue-d’Antibes. Locals refer to the district as Le Carré-d’Or (Golden Square) – which is what the French generally call any part of town where a lot of money changes hands. Have a look out for:
- Le Tantra (13 Rue Dr Monod; open 8pm-2.30am; +33 620 794681; www.tantra-cannes.com). This is a hip restaurant which segues into a disco club later in the evening - with a certain sharp, shiny elegance.
- Bar Lalu (32 Rue Commandant André; open 11am-9pm; +33 493 393239). An earlier evening spot – for aperitifs. It’s pretty good during the day, too ... for coffee or Italian chocolate.
- Dadada (15 Rue Frères Pradignac; open 11pm-dawn; +33 493 396270; www.dadadaclub.com). An unusual and attractive spot, this one, mixing cabaret, live music, disco and art events – in terribly contemporary surroundings.
- Le Morrison’s Pub (10 Rue Teisseire; open to 2am; +33 492 981617; www.morrisonspub.com). Here’s where you go when only a pub atmosphere will do. Morrison’s has a pretty genuine version, frequent live music and key sports fixtures on giant screens.
- Le Baoli (Port Pierre Canto; open 8pm-dawn; +33 493 940360; www.lebaoli.com). We move out of the Carré-d’Or and up several notches, to an exotic restaurant, bar and club where, if you’re not wearing Armani, you’re probably not getting in. Here, amid Oriental paraphernalia and several different spaces – some outside, some inside – opulence really matters. This is one of the coast’s prestige spots. If you’re there, you’ve no right to bother that the cheapest bottle of Champagne is 160 euros.
- Charly’s (5 Rue du Suquet; open 8pm-2.30am; +33 660 903867; www.pubcharlysbar.com). Here’s a relief amid the thumping techno-beat that throbs through Cannes nightlife elsewhere. Hidden away in the Suquet older part of town, Charly’s does music from the 1960s to 1990s – and it does so amid cavern-like surroundings, a waterfall, fine sushi and better cocktails.
- La Chunga (24 Rue Latour-Maubourg; +33 493 941129; www.lachunga-cannes.com). This place is either celebrated or notorious in Cannes, depending on whether you’re an ageing lothario or an innocent young lady. Early evening, La Chunga is a good Italian-influenced restaurant (though prices are at the upper end of reasonable). Later, there’s live music and a certain friskiness in the air much appreciated by film producers and other fine folk in pm-dawn for the festivals. A Cannes institution, at any event.