You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 10, 2019.

This is the final instalment of my Cannes notebook for 2019 (see parts 1 and 2).

Tomorrow, posts delve into the city’s restaurants.

Before then, here is a bit more about Cannes past and present.

The Anglo-French relationship

In 2017, I wrote a brief history of Cannes, from its earliest days to the present.

For centuries, the Church — via the local monastery on St Honorat Island — played a huge part in the lives of the townspeople.

After the Revolution, things changed dramatically. By then, the English were making their grand tours of France and Italy.

In 1834, Lord Brougham and his daughter Eleonora toured the Côte d’Azur in the hope of finding a place where she could recuperate from her bronchial ailment. By chance, they stopped in Cannes — then, like neighbouring Nice, a poor fishing village — where she recovered. The Cannois extended exceptional hospitality towards the two, and it was not long before Lord Brougham built a villa there for his daughter.

He and his family enjoyed their stays in Cannes. He told his English friends that they, too, should consider spending their holidays there.

With that, the numbers of foreigners grew and grew. By the time Lord Brougham died in 1868, dignitaries and royalty from not only Britain but also the Continent had built holiday villas in Cannes.

Today, everyone visiting Cannes can see a grand statue of Lord Brougham in the city centre (next to McDonald’s!) overlooking a large fountain facing the Bay of Cannes.

As one can see from this Provençal festival poster below, the English were still involved in the city’s activities in the 1920s:

The Lord Brougham referenced there would have been a direct descendant.

The Entente Cordiale between Britain and France began in 1904. This short British Pathé newsreel shows the 25th anniversary commemoration of this important alliance, which exists to this day. In 1929, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, was the honoured guest in Cannes, along with many other British and French dignitaries:

The cityscape looks much different these days! For a start, the old casino in the film was razed a long time ago.

New developments

Mayor David Lisnard has been making many changes which he hopes will further improve the city.

I am less sure, but then I always liked the little quirks that made Cannes such a unique place. They are quickly disappearing.

Rue Felix Faure

This street runs parallel to La Croisette and has the city’s most popular restaurants.

Lisnard is pedestrianising the street so that it forms a new esplanade running from the north side of the Croisette near the bandshell all the way to the restaurants’ frontage.

I already miss the traffic that used to go down there. I used to look at the registration numbers to see where the various cars were from. There were no bin men doing their early evening collections, either. Oh well.

I can understand Lisnard’s objective, but yet another quirky aspect of Cannes daily life has disappeared.

Plage Zamehnof

Zamenhof Beach is at the eastern end of La Croisette.

It has recently been enlarged and improved:

Largely, it’s a great move, especially as this is a public beach.

But …

Look at the rocks to the left of the photo. When we first started going to Cannes regularly in the late 1990s, they used to be a haven for locals who sunbathed nude. They did not bother anyone because the place was deserted. The sunbathers did not seek each other out. They placed themselves as far apart as possible.

Some years later, the nearby marina was expanded, making that area more exposed. Fewer lone sunbathers went there for privacy and quiet.

Now, as you can see, the rocks are deserted.

Another quirk gone forever.

Le Carré d’Or

The Golden Square is just off the Croisette.

It had the city’s nightclubs, particularly the late, glitzy Sparkling (6-8 Rue des Frères Pradignac), which was no stranger to the local news in 2013.

This area, comprising the small streets of Rue Macé, Rue des Frères Pradignac, Rue Gérard Monod and Rue du Commandant André, is undergoing renovation:

I can vouch for the fact that, since 2014, a number of traditional French restaurants in that area have closed. I accept that a) people retire and b) restaurants fail.

However, their replacements in Le Carré d’Or are highly-priced, characterless, blingy restaurants and bars designed for those on expense accounts, i.e. conference goers.

I liked the old places better. It was in this Golden Square that we had our first serious dining experiences in Cannes.

Another bit of ‘old’ (my term) Cannes that is no more.

Rue des Serbes

Arrgh! This is where the Nice Airport bus used to stop on its return journeys. It was so easy for travellers staying in the vicinity.

Note the palm trees in the before and after photos:

Okay, it’s now streamlined, and no doubt delivery lorries find it much easier now, but it’s too darned tidy!

I also lament the absence of the palm trees just to make a new bus lane.

This part of Rue des Serbes coming off La Croisette was actually quite pretty in the ‘old’ days. No longer.

Le Suquet

On top of Le Suquet, the old quarter, is a fortress which was turned into a modern art museum many years ago.

Added since our last visit is a large gold CANNES sign, similar to the HOLLYWOOD one in California, only more discreet.

You cannot see the sign in the photos below, but when you are in the centre of town a few storeys up you can see it and the clock clearly, even if the clock looks tiny here:

I haven’t been up there so I cannot comment, but I have been along the streets below the fortress, and they had some character to them. I will have to return next time to see if everything there has been cleaned up, too.

Conclusion

We saw a lot fewer cars in the centre of Cannes.

It seems that is one of the objectives of this exercise.

With that, however, the city is also beginning to lose some of its innate charm.

Cannes needs a bit of its old chaos. However, that’s all by the wayside now.

Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage

I attended Mass in this 19th century church in May 1978, in the days when I was still Catholic.

It is absolutely beautiful and, if I am not mistaken, Grace Kelly attended Sunday Mass when she was in town for the Cannes Film Festival one year in the 1950s.

This is another restoration project the city is undertaking:

There is a stone plaque on the side of the church along Rue Notre-Dame commemorating Napoleon’s march along that route.

It is one of Cannes’s oldest churches and why it is important to Mayor Lisnard and to the city. Both the exterior and interior will undergo renovation:

The importance of classical music in Cannes

Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage is known for its organ music. Often, between 6 and 7 p.m. you can hear the organist rehearse for Mass.

On June 24, the local Conservatoire de Musique et Théâtre gave an end of term concert at the church:

Here are some excellent photographs of that event — and of the church interior:

Education

As I mentioned yesterday, education has long been a priority for Cannes.

A new initiative has been launched for every child born in Cannes who is still living in the city on his or her sixth birthday — a set of six books to enjoy during their formative years:

These books will cover traditional subjects such as fairy tales, mythology, history, animals and nature:

Lisnard’s EAC — Education Artistique et Culturelle — has been achieved and appears to be going nationwide:

Parents attend special art workshops with their children. This one was held on a Saturday in June:

The mayor also actively promotes civic education in schools:

In order to receive the ‘passport’, each child has to undertake eight activities, involving personal behaviour, citizenship, computing and the environment:

This was a voluntary school project but will become mandatory in all Cannes schools for the next academic year:

Mayor Lisnard distributed the passports personally:

Thus ends my summary of Cannes for another year — with nary a celebrity or film star in sight!

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