You’ll instantly know Cannes for its connection to the big screen – every May, the crème de la crème of the film business descend on this glitzy Riviera resort to celebrate the past year’s cinematic triumphs, competing for the coveted Palme d’Or award (and for the ‘Best Dressed’ mentions in Tatler). After the buzz of the Film Festival comes the buzz of high season, with holidaymakers and second-homeowners thronging the beach and boutiques – Cannes is unquestionably a summertime destination. But if you prefer cooler temperatures and a quieter, more peaceful experience, consider delaying your visit until September to enjoy the seaside events the late season has in store.
First up is the Cannes Yachting Festival (12-17 September), now in its 40th year. It’s the major event of the season for the world’s nautical industry, uniting a gleaming collection of yachts and sailing boats in Cannes’ photogenic bay and welcoming scores of international traders and exhibitors. Visitors can access the roof terrace above the Palais des Festivals to soak up a 360-degree view of the Croisette, the port and out across the bay to the Lérins islands.
Speaking of the islands, you might wish to escape the crowds on your late summer holiday and take the 20-minute shuttle boat out from Cannes to Île Sainte-Marguerite or Île Saint-Honorat. The Lérins islands are a haven of peaceful rocky inlets, dust paths and gently creaking pines, where people lazily lunch and play boules and you feel a world away from the frenetic city pace. Try out kayaking or stand-up paddle here, or hire your own boat and drop anchor near a secluded cove for an afternoon of snorkelling and shell-hunting. History and culture lovers will be interested in Sainte-Marguerite’s Fort Royal, imprisonment spot of the Man in the Iron Mask, and Saint-Honorat’s monastery and wine-making.
Back on the mainland, the late season brings another big date for your diary: the Royal Regatta, running for a week from 23-30 September. An armada of classic boats of all types – schooners, cutters, sloops, yawls and J-Class yachts to name a few – unite for five days of racing against the spectacular backdrop of the Îles de Lérins, divided into seven groups according to size, age and rigging. For sailing pros it’s a must-see – but for many visitors, it’s simply a way of soaking up Cannes’ famous festival atmosphere while the sea is still warm and the rosé’s still chilled, the bulk of the summer crowds having moved on.
Enjoy an Indian summer on the Côte d’Azur… like the Givenchy gowns that grace the red carpet in May, it won’t fail to impress.