Hosting one of the most prestigious and influential festivals in the world, the name of Cannes film festival is now synonymous with the city, and it is easy to forget about other aspects of this destination, including Jewish heritage. There is so much to explore here beyond the glitz and glamour of the film 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 and explore the Jewish heritage and the city highlights!
Where should this journey start if not in Le Suquet, Cannes’ oldest district? It surrounds the Vieux Port and the celebrities` 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 Cannes Jewish heritage tour is without the shadow of a doubt the city’s Great Synagogue. This 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).
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 forced to wear a distinguishing badge and were 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 studded with ruins of Roman Aqueducts, and is famous for its Gardens, a joy for the eye with its lush rows of roses. The atmosphere of Antibes’ ancient past intertwines seamlessly with contemporary art, which you will find in the local Picasso collection. The world-famous artist himself spent several months in Antibes, and donated a number of works to the city.
In the post-war 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 Sephardic 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 with our Jewish heritage tour!
Cannes is also one of our many port destinations. If you plan to come to your guided tour(s) by cruise ship, we would be more than happy to arrange for your transfer and arrival!