September is a terrific month to visit Europe. The whole world has returned to wherever it is they came from or now belong-school, home, real life-and the streets are once again more populated by locals than out-of-towners. But with thousands of years of history and culture (not to mention 4 million square miles) to explore, it's tough to know where to start. Here's an idea: Why not organize your vacation around one (or all three) European fall boat shows? Cannes is the first in this yachting trifecta, but we'll cover Southampton and Monaco in upcoming newsletters.
Cannes International Boat & Yacht Show
Hey, if you're going to go to Europe, why not go to a town whose name is synonymous with glitz and glamour? Cannes may be best known for its International Film Festival, but who wants to sit in a darkened theater in the beautiful south of France? The boat show (known locally as Festival International de la Plaisance de Cannes, www.salonnautiquecannes.com) runs from September 9 to 14 in 2009 and boasts 600 vessels displayed in the water, as well as 250 models making their debut. The show venue is divided between Vieux Port (the old port), where new yachts are on display, and Port Pierre Canto, which features brokerage boats. A third locale, Espace Riviera, houses 80 exhibitors, including luxury yacht builders, architects and designers, marine service companies, and yacht tender vendors.
It's a great show, but make sure you leave time to explore the ancient Commune of Cannes. Promenade de la Croisette is the town's main attraction, a mile long stretch of beautiful beach that is studded with luxury retailers, hotels, and fine dining. At the end of La Croisette is the Palais des Festivals, and its Allées des Stars is like Hollywood's Walk of Fame, featuring handprints and signatures of the rich and famous.
You will definitely want to spend some time in Le Suquet, the highest point of the Old Port. Narrow winding streets, small boutiques, and charming restaurants make it a magical place to explore. Check out the 12th-century Chapel of St Anne, the remains of the fortified tower, and an unbelievable view over la Croisette.
And don't forget to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Plage Royal, Plage de Casino, Plage de la Croisette, and Plage du Midi when you can slip away from the boat show.
Like every place in Europe, you're only a stone's throw from other wonderful destinations, so check out our recommendations for sidetrips.