Cannes unveiled: Where to see, be seen, and unwind on the French Riviera

Digiday covers the latest from marketing and media at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. More from the series →

Welcome to Cannes, where the Mediterranean meets the manicured and the social scene is as sparkling as the sea. From star-studded soirees to yacht-hopping escapades, this French Riviera gem is a playground for the bold and the beautiful.  So, grab your shades and let’s dive into the glam and occasional absurdity of Cannes’ social whirlwind. Here’s the scoop on the hottest spots to visit while you’re in town.

For Cannes newcomers, here’s the lowdown on where to kickstart your week. 

The Palais is the epicenter of all things Cannes — it’s where conventions happen, awards are doled out, and networking is practically an art form. 

Take your socializing to new heights at the Cannes Connect Bar, perched atop the Palais with sweeping vistas and sponsored networking events. For a more laid-back ambiance, explore the dedicated networking space in the Rotonde area, ideal for fruitful meetings away from the rooftop glamor.

For a change of scenery, venture to the rooftops along the Croisette for a taste of Cannes from above. At the JW Marriott Cannes, Le Panorama lives up to its name with sweeping views of the bay and the Croisette. Meanwhile, atop the renowned Baôli nightclub, Cloud Nine offers vistas of the Bay of Cannes, the Lérins Islands, and the Esterel Massif. And don’t miss 360. the rooftop bar at the Radisson Blu hotel, renowned for its spacious terrace and stunning views across the beachfront of Cannes. 

When it’s time to dine, Cameron Townsley, creative and events director at The Digital Voice, recommends Baôli for a memorable dinner experience. And for a delightful lunch, try your luck at securing a table at Empower Cafe — it’s worth it for a taste of culinary bliss amidst the Cannes bustle.

Indulging in a meal with a view is a quintessential Cannes experience, and La Palme d’Or at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez tops the list. With its two Michelin stars, this restaurant not only offers breathtaking vistas of the Bay of Cannes but also serves up exceptional French cuisine crafted by chef Christian Sinicropi. For another delightful option, head to La Petite Maison de Nicole, nestled atop a hill, where you can savor delicious French Mediterranean dishes paired with an excellent wine selection, all while soaking in stunning panoramic views.

While Cannes may be synonymous with glitz and glamour, there are hidden gems where you can enjoy a drink without breaking the bank or feeling too bougie. Le Bar A Vin on Rue Marceau is a local favorite, offering a cozy atmosphere and an excellent selection of affordable French wines by the glass or bottle. Pair your drinks with small plates and charcuterie boards for the perfect evening.

For a more secretive vibe, head to the dimly-lit bar on Rue Bivouac Napoléon. With its speakeasy-like ambiance, this spot is renowned for its extensive collection of natural wines and craft beers. Let the knowledgeable staff guide you through their unique offerings, ensuring a memorable drinking experience.

If you find yourself with a rare moment of respite between meetings, why not indulge in some well-deserved pampering? Along the Croisette, luxury boutiques like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Dior beckon for a spot of retail therapy. Venture beyond the beachfront to Rue d’Antibes, a pedestrian haven teeming with upscale shops, cozy cafés, and tantalizing restaurants. For a taste of local charm, explore Le Suquet Market in the old town, where you’ll discover a treasure trove of local products, souvenirs, and artisanal delights.

In a city adorned with breathtaking vistas, few compare to the enchanting sights from Le Monastère Fortifié. This ancient fortified monastery boasts panoramic views of Cannes and the shimmering Mediterranean — a sight to behold. Yet, not to be outdone, Le Café Gourmand emerges as a formidable contender. This quintessential café, with its terrace overlooking the old port and the bay, offers a charming ambiance and stunning views that rival even the most iconic landmarks of Cannes.

Of all the beautiful spots in Cannes, the Gutter Bar stands out for its… well, let’s say character. But don’t let its lack of glamour fool you — it’s absolutely a venue to head to for at least one or two drinks one evening, said Sara Vincent, md of Utiq’s business in the U.K. You can’t miss it: just follow the lively crowd of at least 200 people gathered around this corner bar (next to the art deco Hotel Martinez), sipping from plastic cups and passionately debating the nuances of the ad tech world, all against the backdrop of the mesmerizing Mediterranean, Vincent continued.

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