Cannes, France: You’re Nothing Like The Girl I Knew

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Cannes, France and the French Riviera: beautiful woman city on the railing of a villa overlooking Cannes.

You’re not the same anymore. I remember you when I was a boy, the first time I saw you was at the age of four. Although I barely remember your face back then, the later years shed more light on your smile. You were once beautiful. I loved living in Cannes. You stole my summers, you gave me youth. You were everything to me. My three month summers away from school, my time under the Mediterranean sun, which I haven’t seen for years, not until now.

And I tell you, you’ve changed.

The beautiful Rue D'Antibes in downtown Cannes, France. It is narrow and full of tourists, and near the main street Boulevard De La Croisette.
The beautiful Rue D’Antibes in downtown Cannes, France. The street is lined with numerous cafes and high-end stores.

Although your clothes remain the same, I notice the lines of age have settled on your face. You’re not the young city I once knew. Back then, you didn’t have all this glitz and glamor, these diamonds and pearls. You didn’t have these film festivals or rich men driving these loud cars.

Back then, no one knew you, Cannes.

You were simple.

It was just me, and you. Alone.

Old vintage photograph in front of the Carlton Hotel beach in Cannes, France. Rashad Pharaon is sitting on the railing with his uncle.
My early teen years living in Cannes, France.

I’ve seen pictures of you over the years. And because you stood for so much of my childhood, I was afraid to see you again, to be disappointed by your altered face. When I stand and watch your dark blue ocean today, it’s the same one I remember. As is that soft, Mediterranean breeze. But everything else has been toxified by your fame.

I suppose such are the sacrifices I made as I grew up–watching the old whither, the new rise.

Beautiful panoramic photo of the Croisette and lagoon of Cannes, France in the French Reviera. Super-Cannes mountain is in the background, and the port with many yachts in the foreground.
Living in Cannes has gotten astronomically more expensive over the last couple of decades.

I look at your two ports which flank your crescent coast, and they too have changed. The port on the right-hand, Le Vieu Port–the old port–and the one further down–Port Cantos. They look more modern, remodeled. Commercial.

A luxury yacht moored at Port Cantos in Cannes, France.
An older man’s blue yacht used to be moored there in Port Cantos. Some say the man loved living in Cannes year round, and that he now passed away.

Port Cantos used to have a significant landmark: moored to its entrance was a massive blue yacht some two hundred feet in length. The blue yacht seemed eternally docked there since I first moved there twenty years ago.

Rumor has it the yacht belonged to a German businessman. It looked rather old, but it set itself as a significant landmark. Everyone knew this navy blue yacht. Now, I don’t see it anymore. Where did it go? Has it stolen off with the young, French maiden that you once were?

In all the places I’ve travelled to, never did my heart soar like it did during those summers in Cannes, France, but age and time has a way of banishing fairytales.

Solitary chairs on the Croisette in Cannes, France, facing the public beach and mountains beyond.
Numerous chairs line Boulevard de la Croisette, which runs the length of all beaches in Cannes.

Gone are those memories of the glorious Cote D’Azur. I chose to travel away, to leave you. You belong to others now, those who didn’t know you back when I did, when you were innocent. Those who roar down the roads and use you as an instrument of glamor, a fashion statement. You’re but an expensive location now.

Nothing like the girl I knew.

Have you visited Cannes or the French Riviera? What were your lasting impressions?


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2 comments on “Cannes, France: You’re Nothing Like The Girl I Knew

  1. Wow. You’re a poet, Rashad 🙂

    I associate C’ôte d’Azur with beautiful memories from travels with my parents in my childhood. I haven’t been there since but I can understand how sobering it is when a place you became fond of has altered in character.

    But what I remeber most is horseriding on an endless beach and this is what I would prefer to any Cannes and the like of today.

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