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In the latest installation of our “By the Sea” summer destination series — and just in time for the Cannes Film Festival, where The Points Guy is today — TPG Contributor Drew Limsky gets his Riviera on.
The illustrious site of the annual film festival (now through May 25), Cannes is a vibrant place to bask in the sun for a few days, especially if you score a hotel on the Croisette, the seemingly endless promenade that’s bliss for strollers and runners — and those who just want to sit for a spell on one of the walkway’s famous blue chairs. Filled with outdoor cafes and shops and edged by calm Mediterranean waters, palm-fringed Cannes sparkles with life — whether or not you’re in town to pick up your Palme d’Or.
Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) is only 15 miles away from the heart of town. All of the major alliances serve NCE, with multiple airlines each, giving you plenty of options to redeem American, Delta or United miles for a flight from cities throughout Europe. Also, Delta offers a seasonal non-stop flight from JFK and Air Canada Rouge flies seasonally from Montreal. Here’s what you’ll redeem for flights from the US:
American AAdvantage: One-way from 20,000 miles (economy), 50,000 miles (business) and 62,500 miles (first) on Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair or Iberia.
Delta SkyMiles: Round-trip from 60,000 miles (economy) and 125,000 miles (business) on Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, Delta or KLM.
United MileagePlus: One-way from 30,000 miles (economy), 57,500 miles (business) and 70,000 miles (first) on United with intra-Europe flights on Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Germanwings, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss, TAP Portugal or Turkish. One-way from 70,000 (business) and 110,000 (first) when flying Air Canada Rouge, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss, TAP Portugal or Turkish across the Atlantic.
Where to Stay
The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez, one of this seaside resort’s iconic properties, is the perfect place to land. With its gleaming white façade, art deco interior, glamorous see-and-be-seen pier and the largest private beach on the Croisette, the Martinez will make you feel like Scott and Zelda in no time. The L.RAPHAEL Beauty Spa is arguably the city’s best, and the breakfast buffet — especially if you arrive early, before the crowds — is elegant and bountiful. If you need help with anything from transportation to local tips, Roberto at the concierge desk is your man.
Though nightly rates here generally start at $346 or 25,000 Gold Passport points, during the Cannes Film Festival you can expect to pay nearly three times as much. However, note that the Martinez’s listing on online booking portal Visa Signature Hotels allows holders of Visa Signature credit cards (e.g., Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Hyatt card, the Marriott Rewards Premier and the Southwest Premier, Capital One Venture, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, etc.), to score perks such as room upgrades, free Internet and breakfast, and food and beverage credits. American Express Platinum cardholders can also take heart that the Martinez is a member of American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, offering them exclusive benefits such as room upgrades and early/late-check-in.
Also see our reviews of the JW Marriott Cannes and the Hotel Le Canberra, and stay tuned for The Points Guy’s review of the InterContinental Carlton Cannes. For even more hotel options, see Destination of the Week: Cannes.
What to Do
Resorts in Cannes tend to charge for the extras (except breakfast, depending on how you book), but just cough off up a few euros and bask on a lounge chair on the hotel’s pier. From there you can order lunch and the requisite rosé wine after a swim in the sea. If you want a more formal gastronomical experience — and some diehard foodies will plan their entire trip around the offerings at the Martinez — book a table at the two-star Michelin venue La Palme d’Or, which is overseen by Chef Christian Sinicropi. Gourmet packages are available, and look for special events, such as duo chef dinners and food and wine pairings (e.g., Champagne Taittinger on July 3).
For the best walks and sights, head to the right when facing the sea. Take a spin on the carousel, buy a glace (ice cream) at one of the ubiquitous stands, explore the narrow streets of the old town — the hill of Le Suquet — and hike up to the castle. Bistro Gourmand offers prix fixe menus that feature dishes such as a truffle risotto and filet of dorado (also known as mahi-mahi).
I always find that a stay in Cannes is best paired with a nearby town in Provence, whether you stay overnight or come in for a tour and a Relais & Chateaux meal. My top pick is the walled city of St.-Paul-de-Vence. Hotel St. Paul serves lunch on a stone terrace dotted with red umbrellas; the Provençal view is outstanding. Room 40 is a lavish suite, with windows on all sides, a canopy bed and a freestanding soaking tub. Hotel St. Paul is a Visa Signature hotel, and nightly rates start at $256.
Le Mas de Pierre, located outside the city walls, offers a more rustic experience, with beautiful gardens and olive trees to stroll among, a refreshing swimming pool lined with cabanas — and La Table de Pierre, which represents a new collaboration between executive chef Emmanuel Lehrer and Michel Rostang, a two-star Michelin chef from Paris. Nightly rates are from $212; Le Mas de Pierre is a Visa Signature hotel.
Credit cards such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture Rewards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, making them ideal to use on overseas vacations. To see more cards without these fees, check out Top Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.