- Families with teenagers
- First-time travellers
- Great views / scenery
Walking the walk – or strolling with stars (also with the rich, the joggers and the nut-cases).
Curving round the bay, the sea-front boulevard and promenade is where you feel the full, gentle force of Cannes’ powers of seduction. At film festival time, I’ve bumped into Sean Connery and Bruce Willis ambling here. But, because La Croisette is the resort’s public focal point, I’ve also bumped into everyone else: families and strolling seniors, the inevitable over-tanned ladies with Chanel suits and barely visible dogs, joggers, clowns on stilts and one curious fellow, stripped to the waist, who would light a Gauloise cigarette, swallow it, open his mouth to show it had gone – and then pass the hat round.
The Croisette spectacle is, in short, riveting, especially when low-lit at night. In these surroundings, it seems touched with grace. Or at least privilege.
Imagine. Out front is the sparkling acreage of Mediterranean. Behind rise the palace hotels with their suggestion of well-bred, well-heeled decadence. (The Carlton Hotel may be the only building in the world whose domes were inspired by a courtesan’s breasts). Where there aren’t palaces, there are luxury shops (Dior, D&G, Vuitton, etc) to cripple the platinum card - and maybe even challenge the resources of exotic folk emerging from Saudi-registered limos.
And, between the sea and the sophisticated excess extends the promenade. It is flanked by lovely gardens full of noteworthy plant life, and punctuated with stretches of water where your youngster (husband or child) might try a remote-control boat. When he tires of that, there will be a merry-go-round to hand. Best bet, I think, is to start at the western end, by the Festival Palace. Despite being the spot where film folk famously ascend the steps, it is a building of mainly Stalinist charm. Plans are presently in hand to lighten it up a bit. They also envisage the rehabilitation of the Allée des Stars (“Stars’ Alley”) alongside. This is where you find the handprints of movie greats set into the pavement. Of late, they have been neglected (the handprints, I mean, not the actors) – and now serve mainly as a gathering place for discarded cigarette butts.
Continue along the Croisette, past the public beach, Plage Mace, taking in the splendour. By the time you arrive in front of the Hotel Martinez, you’ve done most of the essential walk. But, if the legs are still operational, you might like to continue … to the new-ish Port Canto and onto the Port du Palm beach. Just beyond is La Pointe de la Croisette, a headland which closes the Bay of Cannes – and which gave “La Croisette” its name. The headland used to bear a little cross – to safeguard sailors setting out for sea and pilgrims making for the monastery on the Ile-St Honorat. ‘Little cross’ in French is “croisette”. So now you know. Sadly, the cross is no longer there. The headland has a casino instead. Cannes in a nutshell, I’d say.