French Romance : 3 reasons to head to Cannes Hors Saison
The perfect winter romantic get away, Cannes “hors saison” will make you fall in love with France again. Enjoy French hospitality, magnificent cuisine and indulge in doing nothing at all on a Sunny terrace in January.
1. Locals reclaim their town
There is something irresistible to Cannes off season. Maybe because the “Cannois”, (people who actually live in Cannes all year round), seem to enjoy having the town to themselves and not share it with thousands of inconsiderate tourists. Or maybe simply because the warm sun of la Côte d’Azur shows up regardless of the time of year. If you want to experience French hospitality at its best, avoid the Summer months and head to Cannes when you can blend in and be a guest, not a tourist.
2. Experience legendary places
Unfortunately Cannes doesn’t have a film museum (something one could expect considering the love story Cannes has with cinema). Yet, if you’re interested in behind the scenes of Cannes glamour there are other options…
Old millionaires, high end prostitutes and movie stars from another era, Cannes is not your everyday place, even off season. To sample a bit of this subculture, head to La Chunca on a Friday night. It is a tiny, extremely smokey place on the croisette (one of the last bars from the golden era still open today on la Croisette and it doesn’t seem to be affected by the smoking ban in public places). Expect live music and bar tenders with bow ties. This place is straight out of a gangster movie and has all the above crowd. Live music starts at 11pm and goes on until the early hours of the morning.
3. People watching
If you can rent a car, a nice way to spend your Sunday is to drive along the sea coast all the way to St Tropez. You’ll pass ghost towns and funky architecture from the 60s (you can spot Pierre Cardin’s Palais de bulles from the road in Théoule sur mer, which looks straight out of a bond movie). Don’t leave without a café granité at Senequier in St Tropez. Facing the marina, it is the best spot for people watching and a legendary place altogether. At 5€, the espresso is probably amongst the most pricey in the world but you can stay the whole afternoon and enjoy a bit of French “Art de ne rien faire”. And that’s probably priceless.
There is not much to do but maybe that is the whole point. While the rest of Northern Europe is fighting the hostile winter, sit back, relax and enjoy the warm sun while your tastebuds can rejoice for a proper foodporn heaven “à la française”.
The wonderful thing about France is obviously not the recurrent strikes but of course the food. The French have it all figured out with reasonably priced menus (you can eat an out of this world 4 course menu for 40€), affordable wine (don’t expect Italian or Spanish wines, the French stick together when it comes to wines!) and a sense of elevating your senses when it comes to food. Don’t mess around with your food, they would probably be more offended than if you’d burn Joan of arc a second time.
Expect to drink a lot of wine as well, as wine by the glass is outrageously expensive, so bottles are always the way to go ( ohhh too bad…)
French dinner doesn’t start before 8pm. If your dinner time has to be before 8, maybe the local McDonald (called Quick) is a better option.
Cannelle is a little café which serves lovely desserts and homemade snacks. A great place to stop for lunch or afternoon tea if you’re shopping at rue d’antibes. You can also buy Fauchon produts.
Volupté anytime is a salon de thé and it has its own tea brand and a wide selection of Oolong. If you’re into green tea they actually have a good selection of sencha. Expect light snacks and delicious desserts when it comes to food. It is a very popular place with the local young mums, so at lunch it is a bit of a stroller race track.
Bobo bistro at 21 Rue Commandant André
Bobo means bourgeois bohème, the father of hipster chic, with less facial hair and more classy outfits and this cute little restaurant is the brand essence of Bobo! A small menu with both French flavours (try their “poireaux vinaigrette” et mimosa eggs) and Italian classics (parmigiana and truffle gnocchi) makes it a good “light” dinner option. The wine list is just like the owners: bubbly and charming. I recommend the côtes du rhône amour de fruits, a nice little red that goes well with pretty much anything.
My favorite: La table du chef at 5 Rue Jean Daumas.
Don’t ask chef Bruno to tell you what is on the menu. Because there is no menu!
Every night, a different four course meal is served and the only thing you’ll be asked before you start is your diet specific requirements.
Based on the concept of table d’hôtes, this cute little restaurant serves French classics with a twist. Chef Bruno is alone in his tiny little kitchen and will always make a point in meeting all the guests personally at one point during the meal. If you want to try a Michelin restaurant without the price tag, la table du chef is the place for you.
Off season means hotel prices drop significantly.
You can stay at the legendary hotel Martinez for a fraction of the price. While the suites (that Hollywood studios use during the film festival) might still be unaffordable, the deluxe rooms with sea view is reasonably priced and indisputably a very good option. It is a Hyatt hotel so expect all the perks of a Hyatt stay (including collecting miles in most affiliated programs).
If you’re not desperate for a room with a view, several mid range options can be found in town. Best western patio des artistes has recently been renovated and features comfortable large rooms 2 seconds from rue d’antibes. It is nothing special or remotely charming, but it’s clean, affordable and has cool amenities (if, like me, you’re into collecting hotel shampoo bottles).
If you’re on a budget, airbnb rooms is the recommended thing or stay at Résidence Gambetta which has 4 little studios.