Our first lesson from the concierge at the InterContinental Carlton Hotel: Cannes is pronounced "can" as in "yes, can do." For some reason, that seemed like a funny phrase coming from the mouth of the young, tall and proper Frenchman behind the counter, but it certainly was memorable.
We knew Cannes would be a scene of beautiful, tan people soaking up the sun and fun off of the Boulevard de la Croisette. After all, it's Beverly Hills' sister city and a star-studded mecca during the famous Cannes Film Festival that had just wrapped up the month before our visit.
The price of admission to eat at the beachside restaurant and sunbathe on the pier of the Carlton Hotel might have been steep, but when we noticed Pierce Brosnan dining just two tables away from us, the sticker shock lifted.
When booking a room at the Carlton, ask for one facing La Croisette on the sixth floor so you can watch the changing colors of the Mediterranean Sea speckled with yachts of all shapes and sizes from your own balcony. You won't find balconies on the floors below.
Even if you're not staying at the hotel, allow time for a cocktail on its terrace bar facing the active boulevard before dinner. It's a front-row seat to some incredible people-watching and hard-to-beat sunsets overlooking the Bay of Cannes.
Regardless of whether you choose to stay at the InterContinental, check out the excellent concierge video tours and insider tips offered in the Explore the Area section of its website. We happily used several of its recommendations.
While the glitzy and out-of-wallet experience of Cannes might not be for everyone, there's no denying it represents a lot of what the Riviera has to offer. It's a good central location from which to explore other towns along the Cote d'Azur.
Sure, it's excessive and takes conspicuous consumption to a new level as represented by the multimillion-dollar yachts passing time in its harbor, but within its fortress walls lies a heart filled with all you'd expect from a quaint French city. You just need to get off the well-worn red carpet of Cannes and walk its cobblestone streets to get there.