Slow travel has completely changed the way I plan and enjoy travel. I used to spend hours researching endless travel guides and planning how I could cram in as much as possible on a trip. It was exhausting. Now, I attempt to do less but better. My aim is to soak up as much of a place as possible by paying attention to the little things, as opposed to racing round to see all the sights. It’s a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience once you realise you don’t have to see and do it all.
The French know a thing or two about slowing things down. In August, the country’s bakeries and boutiques close for 3 weeks and the owners escape to their destination of choice for some downtime. This approach to business must go against every how to run a successful business guide out there, but downtime is taken seriously in France – and that’s a good thing! We can learn a lot from them in this area. We value being busy far too much these days. The feeling of having to be busy and keep busy is exhausting us. We’re missing what’s important – real life, the type that feeds your soul, not the type that leaves you collapsed in front of the TV wishing it was a day off tomorrow.
I’m French obsessed. I admire so much about them, from how reserved they are to how French women manage that imperfectly perfect appearance wherever I look. Whenever I visit France, I always seem to come home with a French girl style tip – this time it was tucking my top into my denim shorts. Style tips aside, their appreciation for slow living makes us a perfect match. I’ve been to Cannes before and I was happy to be back having loved it so much the first time around. The south of France is quickly judged as a place reserved for film festivals and super-yachts and while that side of it is prominent, I feel like it’s often overlooked as a perfect short haul holiday destination. Nice is less than two hours from the UK and the flight prices are always reasonable.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Hotel Le Canberra for four nights and I was surprised by how much I liked this hotel. Although it was only a few blocks from the seafront it was fairly central, which is the opposite to what I prefer in a hotel location. I thought the road and main shopping street outside would bother me but it didn’t. I never felt like it encroached on me when I wanted some quiet time by the pool. I’d highly recommend this place. I didn’t eat here as the food and drink were very expensive but there was so much choice nearby, it wasn’t a problem. The food I did see looked delicious.
The Old Town is where they keep the good stuff. This is the most beautiful part of Cannes and the perfect place to get lost with your camera. The Old Town is a maze of quaint old backstreets, tiny restaurants and ice cream shops. It can be busy at night but the sunset from the monastery at the top of the hill is beautiful and worth the hike. If you’re feeling lazy, there’s a little train that will take you up there as part of the hour long tour. I could’ve happily spent an entire day getting lost in this part of town.
I’m reluctant to recommend anywhere in particular in Cannes because one of my favourite things about being in France is that it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to food. I’m yet to find a croissant that has the same crisp crunch as the French manage to create every time. You know you’re in France when the croissants crunch. The French take genuine pride in their food and it shows. I have a little trick to finding a good restaurant where I avoid anywhere with photos of the food outside and listen for locals eating there. This has never failed me.
Getting up early
Sticking to my regular wake up time of 6am while I’m away is something I’ve been doing for the last few trips I’ve been on, and I’m well and truly hooked. For me, the morning is the best time of day. It’s quiet, the light is beautiful and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. Wandering down to the sea first thing in the morning was routine. Most of the beaches are private in Cannes, but they didn’t mind my being there at 7am before the guests had started to arrive. It really is the best time of day to be out.
I love my alone time and I need it to recharge. Luckily, I’m married to an introvert so we have a mutual respect for our need for alone time. There’s something about that alone time on foreign shores that makes it more valuable than ever. Every day I would find something to do on my own. It could be a wander around with my camera or having a frothy cappuccino at a cafe by myself. One day, I went down to the beach and went swimming on my own. For that brief period, you feel less like a tourist and you could be anyone. You’re anonymous and it’s exhilarating. I highly recommend some solitude if you haven’t made time for yourself on your travels before.
I like quiet places. Quiet backstreets are where you’re likely to find me. My idea of a day of adventure is getting lost with my camera. While Parisians escape from the city in August, the coast fills up with tourists. The shopping area could get very busy as could the promenade. I got used to the sight of Lamborghini after Lamborghini racing up and down the seafront, but I never liked it. I find that kind of thing vulgar but it makes for interesting people watching. Last time I visited Cannes, it was September and although it was cooler, it was much less busy. I preferred it. If I went back I’d try and go in June or September for a quieter atmosphere.
There are so many places in the south of France I still want to visit on my slow travel adventures. In my alternate French life, I’d set sail on my boat and disappear for the entire summer. I’d go back to Cannes again for sure, but I’d really like to explore some of the quieter villages away from the larger towns. I have visions of them being more like the old town was, jam packed with quiet streets and ice cream shops.
What are your thoughts on slow travel? If you have any recommendations for any of those quieter villages I mentioned for next time I visit, let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll like these too…
Pin for later