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Cannes History


The arrival of Lord Brougham in 1834 brought a huge population of British and Russian aristocrats wishing to take advantage of the town’s warm winter climate. The arrival of these aristocrats brought the town the fame and fortune it enjoys today. The first apparent civilization to inhabit Cannes dates right back to the 2nd century BC, and were settled by the Oxybian tribe from Liguria. Lord Brougham was so taken by this lovely site, its friendly inhabitants and gentle climate that he decided to go no further. He had a castle built for him here, which he named after his recently deceased daughter – Château Eléonor, where he spent the rest of his days. Following his example and attracted by the exceptional natural beauty and mild climate, a wave of British expatriates soon began flooding into Cannes. From its beginnings as a provincial village, Cannes soon gained recognition as the Mecca of holiday resorts. Its growth was dazzling, with less than 4000 inhabitants in 1834 and some 20,000 in 1896. At the end of the 19th century, tourism was already the main economic activity.

It was during the 10th that the name Cannes appeared for the first time in official documents. Various theories about the origins of Cannes' name have been proposed, the most plausible of which is perhaps that the town was named after the abundant reeds (cannae) which surrounded the early settlement. Before the English arrived, the surrounding countryside was rather poor. Onions, chickpeas and olives formed the basic diet of the people of Cannes, along with fish, goat cheese and a few rare fruits and vegetables. The only streams flowing here were unpredictable torrents, dry at least six months in the year. For the British, this could not be tolerated; they could not imagine life without flowers, and especially without lawns. The problem was quickly settled by the enterprising Lord Brougham who decided himself to found, with some friends, a company in charge of conveying water to their homes (and at the same time to the population of Cannes). This led to building the Canal de la Siagne, which still provides the city’s water today.

By the 17th century, the village of Cannes had grown to support some 600 houses, and the Notre-Dame parish church was built. The 18th century witnessed the comings and goings of various invaders, and in 1771, an exceptionally harsh winter ravaged the region, the corresponding high price of bread provoking the people into revolt. At around the same time, maritime trade began to occupy a more important place in the town's economy. One result of the French Revolution in 1789 was the division of the country into departments (local administrative units).

The 1900’s in Cannes brought with it the famous International Film Festival. The film festival is one of the biggest events in France, attracting starts, starlets, and plenty of groupies. Today Cannes is a quiet and beautiful village that attracts people from all over the world to enjoy its fine dining, amazing weather, and beautiful buildings.

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