If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that recently I spent 5 days in the South of France, exploring Côte d’Azur region (or the French Riviera, as us Brits like to call it). I was lucky enough to be given the chance to explore this beautiful area of France with the team at We Like Travel, and their partners Visit Côte d’Azur and Visit Paris Region.
Over the course of the 5 days, all 23 of us (including 19 other bloggers from across Europe), set out on a whistle stop tour of Cannes, Nice and Paris. Together we had one of the best week’s, creating memories, forming new friendships, and visiting places off the classic tourist route, giving us a sense of what life is really like in each wonderful town and city.
I had previously visited both Nice (around 7 years go whilst Interrailing with friends) and Paris (countless times) before, but I had never ventured down as far as Cannes. This was the start of our trip and for me, one of the highlights.
We began our trip by staying in the newly built Okko Hotel, a chain of modern boutique hotels in France that have gained quick success and an army of fans. As soon as we entered the hotel, it was immediately clear as to why Okko has garnered swift popularity, The hotel is small but perfectly formed, making great use of every space available. My bedroom’s washroom was futuristic, in pristine condition with luxurious Nuxe shower gel and shampoo. The bed was one of the most comfortable hotel beds I had stayed in, and the bedding was something I would love to have in my own room at home. The bedroom’s safe was located below the sofa, which was attached to the bed. Cupboards, disguised as speakers, held Evian water bottles and a Nespresso coffee machine. The room was compact, but had everything you would ever need in a hotel room and still managed to create a spacious feeling to the room. After a long day of traveling, this room was the perfect space for a good first night’s sleep.
The hotel also offer complimentary breakfast and nibbles in the evening, including charcuterie, cheese and wine on tap (literally), The communal area is also home to unlimited snacks and a fridge stocked with water and soft drinks. Upon inquiring, rooms are reasonably priced too, starting from I believe 120 Euros, including all the food and drink mentioned. The hotel also boasts a beautiful roof top area with sofas, chairs and tables, overlooking Cannes.
Our first port of call in Cannes was to catch a boat over to the island of Île Saint Honorat. This stunning island is located just a short boat trip from the coast of Cannes and is home to a monastery and vine yard, where the monks on the island create their own white and red wine. Our tour guide on the island explained that the mix of salt water, sea air, little wind and brilliant sunshine help create some of the best grapes in the world, which explains why the Saint Honorat wine is award winning and rated one of the best wines in the world – impressive!
The island itself is relatively small, you can easily walk around it within an hour or two. It’s also home to a beautiful cafe, overlooking the water, where you can enjoy a spot of lunch. The church on the island is breathtaking, and the gardens surrounding it are home to some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve seen. The landscape is also stunning, with many rocky areas with shallow waters, perfect for a little dip, and a fortress located to the south of the island resembles something out of Game of Thrones! Well worth a look.
I believe the island is only open to the public between the hours of 10am – 5pm, with the last boat leaving on the dot! Everyone, including staff, must vacate the island at this time in respect of the monks who live and work here.
Since being back, I have spoken to many people who have visited Cannes but had no idea this island, or the one next to it existed. From the mainland, it’s hard to spot them as they look as though they are attached to the mainland because of the angle. These hidden gems are definitely worth a visit if you have a couple of days in Cannes… And trying the wine is a must! The white in particular was beautiful. The perfect refreshment on a hot, sunny, summer’s day.
Back with our feet on dry land, we spent the evening dining at Le Mome, which serves up stunning dishes, full of flavour, using fresh local ingredients. As there were so many of us, they created sharing boards for starter and dessert, allowing us to get a full rounded view of the type of dishes Le Mome create. For my main, I chose the fish dish – I mean, when in France and by the coast, it would be rude to pick anything else! It didn’t disappoint, the fish was cooked to perfection and the choice of sides were delicious. It was the perfect setting to get to know each other too and celebrate our first day of the trip.
Following this we headed back down towards the beach to Midem Festival – a music conference held at the same building that boasts the annual Cannes Film Festival. The conference is held across a couple of days, but in the evening the beach transforms into a music festival, with 2 stages set up literally on the sand. Randomly, Wyclef Jean performed and belted out some of his great hits, including a medley of songs from Fugees. What began as a low key evening, with the hope of getting an early night, turned out to be one of the most random nights out, listening to all the great hits from our childhood!
The next morning, we were up reasonably early to enjoy breakfast at the hotel before heading out on a walking tour of Cannes Old Town. We began by spending some time in Marché Forville – an indoor market filled with local produce including; cheese, flowers, fruit and vegetables, macarons, olives and even nougat. Here we were given a masterclass in how to make Socca (a chickpea pancake) and were able to try some afterwards. I’m a fan of savoury pancakes and so I loved Socca, but strangely it had an almost potato like taste to it. This is a local delicacy in Cannes and a must for anyone visiting.
Cannes Old Town is a must see for anyone staying in Cannes or simply spending the day there. For the most part the main town of Cannes is home to designer shops, vintage cars and luxurious hotels. However, when you venture off up into the Old Town, located towards the west side of Cannes, you feel like you’ve stepped into another world entirely.
I’m unsure of when Cannes was first built, but the Old Town is home to beautifully historic buildings, depicting that of classic French architecture. You could easily get lost in the narrow, cobbled streets, simply taking it all in. The buildings are stunning and the one pictured below is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never seen flowers quite like it! Whoever owns this home is definitely winning at life!
From here you can climb up some steps to a look out point, offering a picture perfect spot with the best views of Cannes.
Although Cannes has never been a place I’ve thought to visit, I must say, this trip was fantastic and opened my eyes to the beauty of Côte d’Azur. I’d love to comeback with Stew one day and hire a car to explore more of this stunning region, hopping from town to town.
Have you been to Cannes or anywhere else in the French Riviera before?
A big thank you to the team at We Like Travel and Visit Cannes for the amazing hospitality and incredible experience. Check back next week for the next stop on our trip – Nice.