Le Suquet - Old Town
Step Back in Time to Cannes' Medieval Past
Above the bustling promenades of Cannes lies the beautiful, medieval quarter of Le Suquet. Away from the glitz and glamour of the busy marina, is the charming and tranquil Old Town, waiting to be explored. Le Suquet is easily walkable from central Cannes; enjoy a leisurely climb through the steep, winding streets or alternatively take the petit train that runs up the hill. Once at the top, history is at your fingertips as you wander the cobbled lanes and take in the beautiful gothic architecture. This district is perfect for those who want to discover the secrets of Cannes’ past whilst soaking up stunning views over the bay.
The oldest parts of the quarter, such as the Chateau de la Castre castle, were built by local monks and date back to the 12th century AD. The city gradually grew up around the castle and watch tower, which were built to defend the medieval community from Saracen invasions and piracy. It survived these feats but sadly most of the population were lost 300 years later in the Great Plague. Visit the castle which also houses a fascinating museum displaying ancient artefacts and artwork from all over the Mediterranean, showing the different customs of the peoples who have occupied the region.
At the very top of the historic hill, you’ll find the gothic Notre Dame de l’Esperance church. It was built in the style of a fortress during the 16th-17th century AD when the narrow, meandering streets of Le Suquet were home to local fishermen. The striking bell tower, which can be climbed for even more spectacular views over the bay, is one of the oldest parts of the building and can be seen from across the city. Once inside the church, you will find evidence of the proud fishing legacy of the area, like model boats at the feet of the saints and ship and anchor motifs. Outside the church is a pretty garden and Baroque square where visitors can stroll or sit and have lunch under shady umbrellas. In July, enjoy free classical music in the square at the ‘Nuits Musicales du Suquet’ as you take in panoramic views of the sparkling Bay of Cannes by night.
This quarter boasts plenty of cafes, bars and tiny boutiques selling locally made clothing and food; you never know what’s around the next corner. It’s no surprise Le Suquet is so popular with fashion photographers; the views over the quaint red rooftops, the Palais des Festivals and the Croisette provide a stunning backdrop. You’re sure to take some excellent photographs of your own as you soak up this majestic setting and people-watch over one of the most iconic and stylish coastlines in the world. As the sun goes down, enjoy a relaxing coffee or glass of local wine on the veranda as you take in the views of the luxury yachts and the blue ocean stretching beyond.
Restaurants line the alleys of Le Suquet and are popular with locals – a sure sign you are getting a slice of true Southern-French culture. The contrast between the Old Town and the popular waterside area is striking at night; you’ll find people of Le Suquet live a slower pace of life and have a more laid-back, Mediterranean approach to their cuisine. There’s plenty of choice for high-quality, Provencal cuisine and seafood; expect a taste of friendly, French hospitality from the staff as they welcome you into the bijou bistros and buzzing jazz bars. Along with the church tower, the chateau is lit up at night, turning the Old Town into a dazzling beacon of Cannes. Not only does it provide a romantic ambiance as you browse the cobbled streets but it creates a stunning view from the sea, should you be lucky enough to find yourself on a yacht in the bay when night falls.