CANNES, a seaport of France, in the department of the Alpes Maritimes, on the Mediterranean, 19 m. S.W. of Nice and 120 m. E. of Marseilles by rail. Pop.(1906) 24,531. It enjoys a southern exposure on a seaward slope, and is defended from the northern winds by ranges of hills. Previous to 1831, when it first attracted the attention of Lord Brougham, it mainly consisted of the old quarter (named Sucquet), and had little to show except an ancient castle, and a church on the top of Mont Chevalier, dedicated in 1603 to Notre Dame du Mont Espérance; but since that period it has become a large and important town, and is now one of the most fashionable winter resorts in the south of France, much frequented by English visitors, the Americans preferring Nice. The neighbourhood is thickly studded with magnificent villas, which are solidly built of a stone so soft that it is sawn and not hewn. There is an excellent quay, and a beautiful promenade runs along the beach; and numerous sheltered roads stretch up the valleys amidst groves of olive trees. On the north the modern town climbs up to Le Cannet (2 m.), while on the east it practically extends along the coast to Golfe Jouan (3 m.), where Napoleon landed on the 1st of March 1815, on his return from Elba. From Cannes a railway runs north in 12 m. to Grasse. On the top of the hill behind the town are a Roman Catholic and a Protestant cemetery. In the most prominent part of the latter is the grave of Lord Brougham, distinguished by a massive stone cross standing on a double basement, with the simple inscription - "Henricus Brougham, Natus MDCCLXXVIII., Decessit MDCCCLXVIII."; and in the immediate vicinity lies James, fourth duke of Montrose, who died December 1874. The country around is very beautiful and highly fertile; orange and lemon trees are cultivated like peach trees in England, while olives, almonds, figs, peaches, grapes and other fruits are grown in abundance, and, along with the produce of the fisheries, form the chief exports of the town. Essences of various kinds are manufactured, and flowers are extensively cultivated for the perfumers. The climate of Cannes has been the subject of a considerable variety of opinion, - the preponderance being, however, in its favour. According to Dr de Valcourt, it is remarkable by reason of the elevation and regularity of the temperature during the height of the day, the clearness of the atmosphere and abundance of light, the rarity of rain and the absence of fogs.
Cannes is a place of great antiquity, but its earlier history is very obscure. It was twice destroyed by the Saracens in the 8th and the 10th centuries; but it was afterwards repeopled by a colony from Genoa. Opposite the town is the island of Ste Marguerite (one of the Lérins), in the citadel of which the Man with the Iron Mask was confined from 1686 to 1698, and which acquired notoriety as the prison whence Marshal Bazaine escaped in August 1874. On the other chief island (St Honorat) of the Lérins is the famous monastery (5th century to 1788), in connexion with which grew up the school of Lérins, which had a wide influence upon piety and literature in the 5th and 6th centuries.
See L. Alliez, Histoire du monastère de Lérins (2 vols., Paris, 1862); and Les Iles de Lérins, Cannes, et les rivages environnants (Paris, 1860); Cartulaire du monastère de Lérins (2 vols., Paris, 1883 and 1905); de Valcourt, Cannes and its Climate (London, 1873); Joanne, special Guide to Cannes; J.R. Green, essay on Cannes and St Honorat, in the first series of his Stray Studies (1st ed., 1876); A. Cooper-Marsdin, The School of Lérins (Rochester, 1905).
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)