Recently, my better half and I had the privilege and pleasure of spending a fortnight in Cannes.

This is the longest period of time we’ve ever spent there, and two weeks is the optimum length of time to spend in this beautiful city.

Readers who have been following Churchmouse Campanologist over the past six years will recall my earlier posts about Cannes: what happens there in a 24-hour timeframe, general advice for tourists, the churches (United Protestant Church — about which a more positive post to come for 2015 — and Catholic Latin Mass), smoking, grocery shopping, the markets, shops and sights (Le Sparkling nightclub has closed and will be redeveloped into flats and shops), sending postcards and parcels, foie gras, restaurants as well as the International Festival of Creativity — popularly known as Cannes Lions, or ad men and women.

As I’ve written before, Cannes is much more than the elegant Croisette, the street which has the grandest hotels and is the site for the annual film festival. Behind the Croisette and the shopping thoroughfare, Rue d’Antibes, are a number of streets with affordable shops, services and restaurants the locals use.

General updates follow. More specific ones will come in the next few days. Original source material and explanations are in the aforementioned linked posts.

Hotels

A number of four-star hotels have linked up with booking sites allowing tourists to book a variety of rooms at discount rates. We used one of these this year which worked remarkably well from check-in to check-out. We received superb service at breakfast, at the hotel beach, from the cleaning ladies and from the maintenance staff.

Everything was first class for an affordable price!

Please note that this will depend on what conferences are in town. Book early to avoid disappointment.

What to pack before leaving home

One never quite knows what the weather will be like in Cannes.

Whilst, generally speaking, one can be assured of an abundance of sunshine during the summer months, the unexpected can happen.

This June, for the first time, we wore our sweaters occasionally when going out for dinner. The first week we were there, the weather was quite hot — low 80s (Fahrenheit) — but we later had a few cooler days along with some sharp showers.

With that in mind, pack one sweater, rain shoes and a lightweight rain jacket.

Where general health is concerned, the warmth might wreak havoc with prickly heat and the digestive system. Magicool Plus spray and, for older children and adults, a non-drowsy antihistamine before bedtime will get rid of prickly heat within a few days’ time. Imodium LiquiCaps are perfect for the occasional upset tum and start working immediately.

Of course, pack the obvious sunscreens and, if you’re staying or touring away from the town centre, mosquito repellent.

Luxury foodstuffs

Over a decade ago, we used to stock up on French olive oil when we went to Cannes. Nicolas Alziari, based in Nice, was not available in the UK at that time.

If you’ve never tasted French olive oil, I highly recommend it. It has a light, grassy taste instead of a bold olive one.

This year, olive prices have soared because of an infestation affecting many French and northern Italian trees. As a result, artisan manufacturers in these areas have had to resort to buying olives from other European and North African countries to keep prices from going through the roof. The size of the bottles and tins has reduced as a result. It is now not unusual to find small 50cl sizes at a significantly high price.

We did not see truffle products on offer. We used to be able to buy truffle paste in the UK at our local shop, but this has not been available over the past year. Unfortunately, it did not appear to be on sale in Cannes, either.

However, more reasonably priced French terrines and rillettes are on offer. I suggest buying those from Jean Brunet, available at Casino supermarkets. €1.89 will get you a tasty traditional combination of duck and wild boar which will probably serve two or three people.

Traditional cheeses made with raw milk are available at Monoprix (in the separate cheese cabinet) and from the local family owned cheesemonger Céneri, located in Rue Meynadier. Céneri has a few hundred (or so it would seem) cheeses from which to choose in all sizes and types of milk. Although the smell of cheese permeates the shop, one quickly adapts and it is easy to spend 20 minutes deciding on what to buy! The family are very helpful in waiting on customers. Just be sure not to help yourself. Some customers have abused hygiene rules, hence the many signs instructing people to ask for service. A number of local restaurants use Céneri as their local cheese supplier.

Packing food items: Buy a sac isothermique — insulated bag which lies flat — from Monoprix’s food hall. They are stocked near the frozen food section. These bags are large and perfect for cheese and other chilled foods. Be sure to pack food in your check-in bag and not your hand luggage. Even commercially-manufactured terrines can be — and have been — confiscated from carry-ons at Nice Airport.

Cooks shops

Monoprix has a basic cooks shop on the ground floor. I bought an oyster knife there for €5.99, which was made in France. The contoured blade is interesting and not grossly sharp as many others are. I’ll write more about its performance in a future post.

A larger, more specialist shop is located at the end of Rue Teissière (the Ladurée shop is on the corner of this street and the Rue d’Antibes). Walk all the way down to the edge of Marché Gambetta and, on your right, at the corner, you’ll see a pharmacy sign and window displays of pots and pans. In addition to those larger items, you can pick up all sorts of smaller, specialised baking and cooking essentials. I bought disposable piping bags for reasonable prices.

There is also a Tout à €2 (Everything at €2) shop on Rue Jean Jaurès — across from the railway station complex — which has useful cooking and household items on the lower level. I bought a plastic clothes bag there along with ice cube bags and a few other incidentals. Before I knew it, I’d spent €16!

Perfume

Staggering perfume purchases can result in a greater number of samples for the ladies in your life to use during their stay.

Every perfume shop — as well as Galéries Lafayette — will happily gift wrap perfume purchases beautifully, at no extra charge. Take advantage of this service!

Hotel beaches

It is worth knowing the terms for a deck chair or chaise longue, the latter having fallen out of use at private beaches.

Before leaving your room, make sure you have the little card for your room key which states your name and room number. You will need to present it when you are checked in for beach use. If your hotel deal does not include complimentary use of the beach, be prepared to pay €15 per person, which will be added to your final hotel bill.

Once you are checked in at the beach, ask for a matelas (matt-uh-lass — mattress) or transat (trans-att — deckchair). One hotel we stayed at used the former and another hotel the latter. In any event, most beach staff at the better hotels speak reasonably good English, so tourists should not have any problem.

Dress well

Although many tourists travel and wander around Cannes in scruffy shorts and well-worn tee-shirts, it is worth looking presentable at all times.

Wearing attire such as polo shirts and nice tops paired with quality trousers, shorts and skirts will get you better service not only at airports but also in hotels, shops and restaurants.

Similarly, you’ll have a much easier time if your bag is pulled over for inspection by Nice Airport security!

I’ll have plenty more to write about this year’s trip to Cannes in the coming days!

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