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You may have heard of Cannes in the French Riviera, but have you heard of Cagnes-sur-Mer? Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Nice airport in the South of France is the beautiful beach town of Cagnes-sur-Mer. The “old town” hilltop village called Haut de Cagnes dates back to medieval times. It’s so old in fact, cars can’t even fit on the old streets.
While this small medieval town doesn’t have a huge amount to see or do, one day in Cagnes-sur-Mer is a great amount of time to enjoy the beautiful Le Cagnard Restaurant and discover this hidden gem in the French Riviera.
Things to do in Cagnes-sur-Mer
Château Le Cagnard
My mom told me about Cagnes-sur-Mer while we were planning our Côte d’Azur adventure. We found this super old boutique hotel at the top of the village called Château Le Cagnard that had the most STUNNING view. Originally, we were going to just go for dinner at Chateau Le Cagnard restaurant one night while staying in Cannes, but we (meaning “I”) said f*** it, let’s spend a night there!
After leaving Cannes, we took a taxi to Haut de Cagnes since we had all our luggage- you better believe we were not about to haul that stuff on a train and find our way around. The staff at the château are terrific.
Since cars don’t fit in the village streets, we were greeted by hotel staff to help carry our bags to the château. We walked in and felt like we were in a medieval place. The rooms were spread throughout the village, each named after a different artist.
We stayed in a junior suite with a balcony, the suites felt rustic but they were comfortable. The bathrooms were also updated which is the most important thing when you’re in a medieval château. The hotel had a really cute bar area and served a European breakfast buffet in the mornings.
It is a true hidden gem.
At the tippy top of the village or “haut”, is a fortress/chateâu constructed by a Grimaldi (the Grimaldis of Monaco) which is now a museum. This is definitely the main attraction in Haute de Cagnes. You can buy tickets to the Musée-Grimaldi and the Musée Renoir together at a discounted price.
To my absolute shock, the infamous artist and a leader of impressionism, Pierre-Auguste Renoir lived in Canges-sur-Mer for the last 12 years of his life. His house has been turned into a museum of some of his work and personal items. HOW EFFING COOL?!
We took a free neighborhood shuttle (bus 44) down the hill and walked 10 min to get there. Wow, it was a major highlight for us – definitely one of the best things to do in Cagnes-sur-Mer. His house is so well preserved, and you even get to see his former studio.
Dinner at the Le Cagnard Restaurant at Château Le Cagnard
Finally, to top off our lovely day of exploring, we made our way back to Château Le Cagnard for dinner. We had made reservations (well in advance) at the Le Cagnard restaurant. Again, this Haut De Cagnes restaurant is the whole reason we even went to the town.
The food and wine were delicious and the view of the French Riviera was UNREAL. My mom and I had an amazing bottle of Chablis. We started with a ravioli, I got a sea bass dish for dinner, and my mom got a risotto dish.
We ended with a tiramisu (although I don’t think it was a traditional tiramisu but it was amazing). Probably the best restaurant in Cagnes Sur Mer and we were totally justified in making it our focus of one day in Cagnes-sur-Mer.
Overall, spending one day in Haut De Cagnes, France is absolutely worth it and it’s a beautiful village. That being said, it is a sleepy place with not a ton to do other than marvel at the charm, so I wouldn’t spend more than a day or night there.
Cagnes-sur-Mer is close to the Nice airport, and there are several trains a day that go there from Nice, Menton, and Cannes making it a great option for a one day trip to Cagnes-sur-Mer.
It’s a super easy stop on your way in or out of the Côte d’Azur- unlike many other towns in the area. The best part is that it’s not overrun with tourists, even during the high season.
It was our last day in the South of France and was the perfect end to the trip.
Looking for more summer European travel inspo? Check ou this week in Madrid guide!