Famous for hosting a film festival so prestigious and influential that the name is synonymous with the city, Cannes Jewish heritage is lesser known despite France’s
then-education minister Jean Zay, later murdered for being a Jew, was the festival´s “founder” in 1939. There’s so much to explore here beyond the glitz and glamor of the festival. Besides
indulging in the charms of the legendary Promenade de la Croisette, the bleached Mediterranean streets and cafes that line this seaside city, we invite you to discover
Cannes in depth, including of course its Jewish soul! Delve with us into the history of France’s most chic city! Where should this journey start if not in Le Suquet, Cannes’
oldest district. It surrounds the Vieux Port and the celebrity yachts with its narrow streets and the medieval castle, Place de la Castre, flanked by the 17th-century
Église Notre-Dame de l'Esperance.
The protagonist of our Jewish Cannes tour is without the shadow of a doubt the city’s Great Synagogue, an architectural gem erected in 1952 and expanded in 1991, is an institution of the modern Cannes Jewish community and heart of the activities of the Consistoire Israélite de Cannes et sa Région (Israelite Consistory of Cannes and its region).
Cannes, Provence and Antibes
The presence of Jews in the Region dates back to the beginning of the early middle Ages. Regularly persecuted and banished from the French territories, the Jews were finding refuge in Provence. In 1396, the Jews of Cannes and Grasse were made to wear a distinguishing badge and confined to a ghetto, until they obtained the status of free citizens in 1748. During WWII Cannes became a place of refuge for Jews coming from the occupied territories. In 1939 Fort Carre, in the ancient city of Antibes, just north of Cannes, became the place of internment of Germans living in France. After the German takeover in 1942, 800 Jews from Fort Carré were transferred to the Camp des Milles, a transit camp in Aix-en-Provence, from which they were deported.
Antibes is also known for the remains of Roman Aqueducts scattered around the area, and for its Gardens, particularly their rose production, and it is not uncommon to find parks lined with dramatic and lush rows of roses here. And in stark contrast to the ancient ruins you can also see the modern allure of Antibes in their unparalleled Picasso collection. Picasso himself spent several months here painting, and upon his departure donated a number of works to the city.
In the postwar era, Cannes and its region became home of Jews from North Africa, and the Synagogues of the Côte d’Azur are now centres of a vibrant Ashkenazi and Sephardi community life.
Discover the “Nabis” art movement and the Belle Epoque atmosphere in the Musée Bonnard, sunbathe on the Plage du Midi and enjoy the stunning panorama while dining on Le Roof. Experience Cannes and its fascinating past on our Jewish heritage tour!