Home to the Cannes International Film Festival, iconic views of the white mast-lined French Riviera, and a charming old town full of storied walkways, Cannes has become a hotspot where culture and lifestyle merge. Experience the A-list atmosphere during the May film festival or plan a beach getaway for your summer vacation. And when the cold weather descends upon France during the winter, Cannes bills itself as a wintertime retreat where you can enjoy the mild Mediterranean climate.
With Cannes high on the bucket list for many of our Marchay members, our exclusive services will ensure you touch down on the South of France destination at the best time of year.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cannes?
The mild Cannes weather makes it a year-round travel destination. It’s known for its warm summers and mild winters. So, with a full calendar to decide, when is the best time to visit Cannes?
Visiting Cannes will let you experience many of the city’s attractions at any time. Peak travel seasons from late Spring to Summer are always favorites. However, it’s a popular winter retreat destination as well.
Cannes is famous for the Cannes International Film Festival, which draws more than 200,000 people to its nearly two-week-long events during the month of May. The film festival rush brings new energy to Cannes, where you’ll see many superyachts, star-studded events, and the top hotels accommodating the festival attendees.
Alternatively, the summer months are the peak travel time, with travelers looking forward to experiencing perfect weather for outdoor activities. Cannes sits on the coast, so beaches like Plage de la Bocca and La Croisette Beach are popular destinations, or taking a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea.
Travelers seeking a winter escape can retreat to the mild temperatures experienced for the season in Cannes. While no major events happen during the winter, it’s a place for a quiet, relaxing holiday away from snowfall found in other regions around France.
When Is The Worst Time To Visit Cannes?
There isn’t truly a bad time to visit Cannes with perks to visiting at any time of year. However, there are times of the year more favorable than others depending on why you’re visiting.
In terms of tourist crowds, the worst time to visit Cannes is during the late spring and summer. This time of year hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival, directly followed by the summer peak season. Sightseeing, dining, and even accommodations can get booked quickly due to the number of visitors during this time. In addition, the laid-back coastal atmosphere becomes obsolete as it attracts celebrities and vacation-goers worldwide.
While Cannes has mild weather all year long, it’s rainiest during the fall and coolest during the winter. The changing weather and low travel season make many private beaches close for the year. As a result, these months are the worst time to visit if you’re hoping for a Mediterranean beach holiday or swimming in the sea. In addition, you won’t find as many events happening during these months if you want to experience the city’s rich cultural heritage through film or music events.
Deciding the kind of vacation you want can significantly change your preferred time to visit. Our experts at Marchay help our members determine how to get the most from their Cannes vacation.
Visiting Cannes In The Spring
With its idyllic Mediterranean climate re-emerging from the cool winter, Spring ushers in a new era in Cannes. The spring months of March to May are peak season for Cannes, with movie stars and critics arriving for the film festival, students arriving for their spring study semester, and others enjoying a spring break getaway on the French Riviera.
With moderate high temperatures in the 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit, Cannes begins to warm up this season for outdoor fun. The days get longer, providing plenty of daylight hours to explore the town or along the coast. The once-quiet beaches from the winter start to fill up with people swimming in the sea or lounging on the beach.
May is the most popular month to visit Cannes, thanks to the annual Cannes Film Festival, which lasts nearly two weeks. But with more than 200,000 people visiting during this brief period, you’re sure to see large crowds hanging in Le Suquet quarter, the Cannes Promenade, and other popular areas. In addition, local cruises, restaurants, and other venues may require prior reservations to guarantee a space to enjoy them.
Visiting Cannes In The Summer
With the Cannes Film Festival events ending in spring, the forthcoming summer months from June to August signal that the Cannes fun is only just beginning. Summer is one of the best times to visit Cannes to take advantage of the warmest time of year.
The Mediterranean climate in Cannes swells to average temperatures in the high 70s-80s Fahrenheit, peaking in august as the hottest month. These months also average 11-hours of sunlight, giving plenty of daytime hours to enjoy all the outdoor fun around town.
Tourism levels are at their busiest in the summer, noticeable when visiting famous landmarks. Climb to the top of Le Suquet to enjoy panoramic views of Cannes from the 16th century Notre-Dame de l’Espérance. People watch on the beachfront Cannes Promenade de la Croisette and admire stunning yachts docked along the shore.
Tons of tours activities are available during the summer high season. Set sail on the Mediterranean Sea for a sunset cruise on a catamaran boat, see French fashion at its finest with shopping during Les Soldes, or go on a self-guided tour around town to discover the artistic film-inspired graffiti paintings decorating antique walls.
Visiting Cannes In The Fall
Travelers who want to experience the local essence of Cannes will have the best chance of experiencing its magic during the fall season. Fall is a unique time of year when the weather is comparable to the summer, but without the tourist crowds during the busy summer months.
Cannes’ fall season lasts from September to November. Temperatures of this coastal town peak at an average high of mid-70s during the day. You can even expect mild temperatures in the high-50s if you’re looking to have nighttime strolls along the promenade. Although the weather remains relatively warm, October and November have the most rainy days out the year.
Just as with the temperatures, many activities available in Cannes during the summer are also possible during the fall. You’ll have a better chance at experiencing Cannes with all the tourist fun. Streets previously filled with tourists allure fall travelers with their local charm as you enjoy sightseeing and curb-side dining in Cannes Old Town.
Take advantage of the beaches until late September, when they close until the following year. However, you can still enjoy views from the waterfront promenade and see yachts returning from summer excursions.
Visiting Cannes In The Winter
If you’re deciding whether to visit Cannes during the winter, consider that the city grew in popularity as a winter retreat for English and Russian aristocrats around the 18th-19th century. Compared to other locations like the cold French Alps, the mild weather gives an excellent alternative to escaping the chilling weather of the winter season.
Cannes stays true to its Mediterranean coastal climate by cooling to an average in the low 50s and low temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit. Even so, it’s much warmer than other regions. January is the coldest month but experiences low precipitation since the rain settles significantly from the fall season.
Plan your seaside winter escape to Cannes during the months of December to February. It’s a low season compared to the spring and summer but remains a great time to visit. Go sightseeing in the Le Suquet district or travel along the coastal destinations of Côte d’Azur. Also, take advantage of winter sales of French fashion along Rue d’Antibes that tend to clear out before the new spring styles arrive.
Attractions & Things to Do In Cannes
#1. Sail Around The French Riviera
The turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea kiss shores of charming coastal towns as you sail the French Riviera. Dock at the local marinas while hopping between Monaco, Monte Carlo, Saint Tropez, and Marseille.
#2. Visit La Mairie De Cannes (Town Hall)
Beautiful 19th-century French architecture emerges from the waterfront as La Mairie De Cannes, the town hall, stands overlooking Cannes’ harbor.
#3. Browse The Finest Local Produce At Marché Forville
Brilliant colors of fresh fruits and vegetables fill the vendor stalls every Tuesday to Sunday for the historic Marché Forville market. After filling your canvas bag with fresh local produce, taste one of the ready-made meals, or pick up spices to accentuate your food pickups.
#4. Go For A Stroll Along La Croisette
The waterfront Promenade de la Croisette runs parallel with the Boulevard de la Croisette. Enjoy views of the French Riviera as sea breezes cool you along the 1.2-mile long paved walkway strolling past fine dining restaurants and designer fashion boutique stores.
#5. Visit The Cannes Yachting Festival
See superyachts, motorboats, hull boats, and more sailing the ports along the Côte d’Azur for the Cannes Yachting Festival. Find your favorite out of 600 boats exhibiting their nautical flair.
#6. Spend The Day At Île Sainte-Marguerite
Catch a boat to the nearby Lérin Island chain to experience the remote beauty of Île Sainte-Marguerite. Explore its history at the Royal Fort complex, famous for holding the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ captive but now housing the Royal Musee de la Mar Maritime Museum. Later watch the sunset from the rocky beaches looking back at the French Riviera.
#7. Trek Through Le Suquet (Old Town)
The medieval charm of Le Suquet, Cannes’ Old Town, enchants travelers. Explore the narrow streets of this hilltop district that lead to landmarks like the Castre Museum and indulge in the local gastronomy of the restaurant and bar scene.
#8. Explore île Saint-Honorat
On an island once only inhabited by monks, Ile Saint-Honorat is now a popular day-trip destination for visitors interesting in exploring the second-largest of the Lérins Islands. Dock on the rugged coastline and walk the historic Cistercian Abbey, a 500-year-old fortified monastery.
#9. Go Back In Time At Musée De La Castre
Sitting atop Suquet Hill, exhibitions of the Musée De La Castre decorate the historic walls of this ancient 11th-century castle. Explore fine art paintings, antique objects, and other artifacts before ascending to its tower top for sweeping views of Cannes.
#10. Take In The Views Around La Croix-Des-Gardes
Hike the La Croix-Des-Gardes loop trail to encounter stunning views and points of interest along its approximate 3-mile route. The namesake La Croix-Des-Gardes is a lavish mansion famously used in an Alfred Hitchcock film, coastal scenery overlooking the Bay of Cannes set behind a large cross, and the Esterel Massif Mountain Range in the distance.
The Bottom Line
Cannes is a cultural and historical hub in France, offering a year-round escape for travelers excited to experience the French Riviera. Its famous film festival is just one of the many reasons why Cannes is continuously talked about in affluent traveler circles.
Many people book Cannes on their calendar in May for its signature festival. However, savvy travelers know that Cannes has so much more to offer and can be a destination during any season. Whether looking for a seasonal escape or indulging in the local cultural offerings, Cannes will fulfill all your travel wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you need in Cannes?
The Cannes film festival is usually the first thing you think about when talking about this coastal destination in the south of France. However, Cannes has charmed travelers with its coastal location lined with yacht-filled marinas and sandy beaches. Additionally, a walk through the Cannes Old Town will reveal its rich history, still preserved for an authentic view of its past.
Cannes makes an excellent destination for any vacation or holiday. To fully appreciate Cannes, stay a few days while touring along the French Riviera or a week or more when taking advantage of seasonal holidays or attending the 12-day long film festival events.
You can fill your Cannes travel itinerary with activities every day during your visit — even during the winter! In addition, there are plenty of day trips to nearby towns, the riviera, the countryside at Provence, or islands offshore in the Mediterranean to add plenty of variety during your stay.
Is Cannes a good place for families?
Looking for a family-friendly travel destination in France. Travel down to the Mediterranean coast to Cannes, sitting on the French Riviera. Cannes is a good place to travel with families where everyone can have a good time.
You’ll create lasting family memories while walking the Promenade de la Croissette, exploring restaurants and shops throughout Le Suquet, or sightseeing landmark buildings like the Palais des Festivals, where the Cannes Film Festival is held. Plan a family beach getaway where kids can join in water activities like boating, playing in the warm sands of Zamenoff or Gazagnaire Beach, and even welcome to tours to the Lérin Islands.
With kid-friendly hotels, casual restaurants for family dining, and more, Cannes has plenty for the entire family.
What is Cannes famous for?
While Cannes gained initial popularity as a winter retreat for royalty, it’s the Cannes Film Festival creating all the modern-day buzz about the coastal town. The Cannes Film Festival began as the International Film Festival in 1946 and later rebranded to spotlight its host city. Hundreds of thousands of film-industry professionals, celebrities, media, and fans, flock to the French Riviera every May for the 12-day festival. Films compete to win the prestigious Palme d’Or and Grand Prix awards.
Although the Cannes Film Festival is invite-only, there is a big buzz about the festival around town with special events, appearances, screenings, and more! Cannes celebrates its film heritage with film-inspired murals seen around town.