Cannes' legendary Croisette gets long-awaited makeover
The star-studded promenade is getting completely redone, balancing Cannes’ glamorous history with a sustainable and connected future.
The glitz and glamour of old Hollywood is weaved into the very fabric of Cannes and is a quintessential piece of history along the world-famous Croisette. However, this main promenade hasn't had a proper update in over 60 years - a fact that the city's ambitious mayor, David Lisnard, was eager to remedy. In 2017, Cannes’ Mairie, or town hall, started a grand renovation project to embellish and remodel the entire sea-front area. Located between the beaches and the city centre, the Croisette is the thoroughfare for the best that Cannes has to offer, from world-famous festivals and events, to luxury boutiques and 5-star "Palace" hotels. Considering its economic importance, as well as tourism and culture, the renovation of this legendary promenade lined with iconic buildings is essential to the continuation and vitality of this unique location.
The winning project was chosen after an international architecture competition launched by the City of Cannes and unveiled in September 2022. From now on, Cannes will be forever linked with some of the most significant architecture projects in the world. Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro and Snøhetta international architecture firm were chosen from 32 different proposals. These prestigious firms have their signatures on Times Square in New York City, the Thessaloniki waterfront in Greece and the National Opera in Oslo.
"We are honoured by the trust placed in us and very excited about the idea of writing a new page in the history of one of the world's most famous promenades. The Croisette, the backbone of the city, whose circular shape hugs the bay, is a unique and privileged meeting place between the public, the city and the sea. Our concept pays tribute to the inherent qualities of this emblematic waterfront." -Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, co-founder of Snøhetta
Digital renders of the future Croisette with views of the beach amphitheatre, the Palais and looking west in front of the Carlton Hotel. Photos © A’U Roland Castro et Snøhetta (provisional design)
Mayor David Lisnard was very pleased with the submitted project, which received wide support from the city council. In a statement announcing the project, the mayor said:
"The Croisette is a strong symbol of Cannes and one of its economic engines. However, no structural development has been carried out there for 60 years. It is essential to upgrade this legendary promenade, which hosts the world's most important and prestigious trade fairs, conferences and cultural events every year. For this, the Cannes City Council chose to rely on the expertise and know-how of the architects of the Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro and Snøhetta. Their project was the best and most beautiful. It is qualitative, visionary and high-end. It takes into account all the complexity of the space entrusted to it - shared between pedestrians, bicycles, cars and buses. It was essential to be able to integrate all of this. The Croisette today must respond to a quality of life but also to energy and frenzy. The site will reflect the very identity of Cannes: a city on a human scale, proud of its French and Provencal roots, and open to the world. Today we are taking a historic step for the future of Cannes. The Croisette must move into the 21st century."
The upscale remodelling of public spaces along the Croisette will begin in 2024. This project aims to renew the iconic past of this unique location, matching the city’s international ambitions and carrying on with the beautification projects already taking place around Cannes since 2018. As the holder of the award for Best City in the World for events and festivals, it is important to make the area as streamlined as possible.
This phase includes the complete restructuring of the Croisette's underground networks to the modernisation of public spaces. There will also be the creation of an innovative thalassothermal energy system that will recover heat energy from the sea to supply the buildings on the Croisette with heating and cooling. This operation will be completed in December 2023 and the thalassothermal production plant will be in operation by 2025-2026.
This immense project is supported by many investors, from state and local government to private investors, including the numerous Palace hotels along the Croisette: the Majestic, the Carlton, the JW Marriott, as well as the Palm Beach, who have all invested nearly one billion euros.
Une Village Mondiale
The current infrastructure dates from the 1960s, but the Croisette's origins date back to the 19th century when Lord Brougham, stunned by the bay’s beauty, decided to make Cannes his home. Throughout the decades, the Croisette has continually evolved, from an old-school scenic coastal road to the bustling boulevard that we all know today.
From the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès to the Cap Croisette, the world-famous 2.5 kilometre stretch along the Mediterranean beach front welcomes hundreds of thousands of people from around the world, each year. The Cannes Film Festival, Cannes Lions Festival Creativity, Canneseries, MIDEM+ and many more have chosen Cannes as their top destination for almost a century.
Not only a favourite for visitors and tourists, the Croisette is integral to the daily life of locals, from sun-soaked daily strolls, to the meet-up place for friends, to the best spot for watching the Fireworks festival, it is integral to the city. Despite the thousands of visitors from around the world, it is this 'village' lifestyle that the mayor is so proud of, referring to Cannes as a village mondiale, or global village.
This project celebrates this unique city and all it offers to both locals and visitors, with a renewed experience of the beach restaurants, palace hotels, luxury brands, and monuments towards Rue d’Antibes. The new grand boulevard, looking out to the sea, offers a unique spot for a stroll while taking in the beauty of the Mediterranean.