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Cannes History, France

Cannes History – Origins

It is believed that Cannes, France originated sometime before 100 B.C. According to Cannes history, a Ligurian tribe known as the Oxybians settled there and named the village Aegitna. At that time, Cannes would have been a port and fishing village.

Cannes History – Ancient history

At this point in Cannes history, the town would have remained a Ligurian port and had probably been inhabited by Romans as well since Roman artifacts and tombs have been discovered in the area. The town or the surrounding area is also thought to be the location where a war broke out between the Greek city of Othos and the armies of the Roman Emperor Vitellius during the 1st century A.D.

By 900 A.D., the fishing village had evolved into the town of Canua. At the end of the 9th century A.D., the town was invaded by the Saracens who almost succeeded in destroying the town and the surrounding countryside during their 100 year stay in the area.

After this period in Cannes history, the town finally began to be known by its current name. It is also at this point that the inhabitants of the town came to a full realization of their need for fortifications and defenses since their island home made them open to attack and invasion. The monks of Lerins Abbey, which had been built in the 400’s A.D., moved to the mainland and settled at what is now called the Suquet, or “old quarter.” A short time later they built a castle and two towers in addition to defenses for the town. The town lived under the rule of the monks for 500 years until, in 1530 A.D., the inhabitants stated their independence.

Cannes History – The Later Centuries

Over the centuries, Cannes history has seen attempts by several groups of people to take control of the Lerins Islands on which the city of Cannes rests. The Spanish and the English both made similar attempts during the 1700’s. Both of these attempts were stopped by France. Other attempts were successful since the islands were controlled at different periods by different men, including the Bishop of Frejus at one point.

The 19th century was a period of beautification and progress for Cannes. A British lord, Henry Brougham, the 1st Baron of Brougham and Vaux, purchased land in the area and built a beautiful villa. He lived in Cannes for much of his later life until his death in 1868 when he was interred in the cemetery there. His beautiful villa attracted more British aristocrats who built vacation homes in the area. By the beginning of the 20th century there were hotels and casinos meant to cater to the upper class. During these same two centuries much progress was made in terms of public transportation. Railways, trolleys, and roads were all made a priority.

The beautification and progress portion of Cannes history continued well into the 1900’s and the city became a booming tourist attraction. The Cannes International Film Festival opened shortly after World War II ended.

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