You would expect Cannes – Riviera headliner, with a genius for stretching a fortnight's film festival glam across an entire year – to have some star clubs. You'd be right. The Cannes experience requires lightly dressed, tanned excess and a certain selectivity – in terms of money, looks and clothes worn. During festival time, exclusivity rides up several notches but don't let that stop you from exploring the best nightlife Cannes has to offer from a swish cabaret bolthole and a true Cannes institution in the Hotel Martinez, to the biggest club in Cannes. Here is Telegraph Travel's Cannes expert, Anthony Peregrine's top tips for a night on the town.
On the Pierre Canto Port, thus slightly off-centre, this is maybe the most up-market of Cannes nightspots. It's where I'll expect to see you when your film wins an award at Cannes. To have a whisper of a chance of gaining entry, you'll have to look both good and opulent, and have a high tolerance of some ultra self-satisfied staff. Within is an exotic outdoor restaurant with tropical greenery décor, a new rooftop bar and the club itself. There are inside bits and outside bits and various ambiances. These run from velvety and relaxed in the restaurant to exotic on the rooftop to upscale wild when the dancing starts around 1am. Prices are outrageous but, then, if you're counting the euros, you're in the wrong place.
Zoa sushi bar
Cracking little place, this. Obviously, it serves sushi ... but also Mediterranean and south-east Asian specialities, plus an excellent range of cocktails. Plus it’s open from 8am for breakfast, then through lunch and the afternoon to dinner. Which may be sushi or may be any other contemporary bistro dishes like salads, poke bowls, burgers, steaks and pasta. And you can eat later here. Post-dinner, it’s party time to 1am seven days a week. The music is either live or DJ'ed - which makes the experience of indulging in raw fish and foie gras decidedly hip. It's almost directly opposite the Palais des Festivals, so you’re at the heart of things. One drawback: it gets busy, so a visit midweek is preferable, and think of booking well ahead.
This place was “La Chunga” until 2021, when it changed its name – apparently honouring a former doorman. Bang opposite the Hotel Martinez, it has been completely redesigned in recent months but remains a plush, slightly louche Cannes institution. It starts out, early evening, as an Italo-Provençal restaurant – with, it must be aid, some ambitious pricing (€46 / £39 for sea-bass fillet) before evolving into a piano and live music bar with a jazz vibe. Clientèle is, in general, sufficiently grown-up to know what a whisky-sour is, and sufficiently rich to vex too much about the ambitious prices.
Contact: 00 33 493 94 11 29
Martinez Bar, Hotel Martinez
You've had enough of the cram and the crush, the incessant surge of rap and RnB. You've had enough of the airhead excess of the young and noisy. So you head for the Martinez bar, where celebrities and civilised folk have all headed before you. But, if you’ve not been for a while, you’ll find all has changed. In place of the Amiral bar is the new, yacht-themed Martinez Bar with, alongside, the outdoor Jardin du Martinez bar and restaurant. (They’ve not overstretched in seeking the new names.) The bar style is retro blue’n’rosewood – just like an old-time yacht. The garden is essentially Mediterranean.
And the prices essentially a bit monstrous – cocktails from €21 / £18. Then again, if you’re looking at the prices on the food or drinks menu, you need to leave right now. This is not your place. But, if you have the cash – and you’re in Cannes, so there’s a good chance that you have - then there are few more sophisticated havens to while away the hours. Live music floats in through to 2am.
France's number one casino company has not one but two terribly chic establishments in which you might lose whatever money you have left after a day spent in Cannes. The main one – Casino Le Croisette – is effectively built into the Palais des Festivals. It's contemporary in style – or as contemporary as you can be with classic Greek murals – and aside from games and machines, lays on a bar and useful, gold’n’red plush restaurant overlooking the port.
If names like Busta Rhymes and David Guetta mean anything to you, then the Palm – once known as the Gotha - is your place. The biggest club in Cannes re-opens for the film festival and then rocks through the summer, beckoning the likes of Leonardo di Caprio, Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton. There are inside and outside parts (with views to the sea at the Pointe Croisette), several VIP areas and drinks at plutocrat prices – but the essential happens on the dance floor, with big- name DJs, rappers and other music-makers. Take your stamina with you – you'll be there through to 5am.
The Cannes branch of the celebrated Parisian Speakeasy brings crooners and chanteuses to the Riviera, the live music accompanying food more interesting than you find in some nightspots: fillet of sea-bass, fillet of Simenthal beef. Later, live music cedes to the thump of DJ driven dancing, and so life roars on until 4am. Good eating, drinking and dancing, then, in one of the coolest spots in town.
Twins Antoine and Ugo Lecorche have run the busy, convivial La Môme restaurant on fresh, Mediterranean lines since 2015. A couple of years later, they added a cocktail bar of some lively sophistication right opposite, in Impasse Florian. A successful evening might take in both.