Every year this city earns its renown when the movie business comes to walk the red carpet, present their works, and hopes to win a little golden palm from the Cannes Film Festival. If I only visited Cannes during this time, I would have the impression that the French Riviera is dedicated to the super wealthy and their unusual way of life. The photographers are everywhere, it’s impossible to walk through streets because they are roped off, and improbable that I will get a seat at any of the restaurants near the beach. When not submerged in the madness of the film festival, Cannes is still a swanky town, but open to a more healthy mix of society. When not visiting during a festival, one of my favorite pastimes in Cannes is to take advantage of the tiny bit of free sandy beach at the Plage de la Croisette. On one side the beach offers me a spectacular view of the shining Mediterranean, while on the other I can admire the plush hotels and restaurants lining the street. While the rest of the Plage de la Croisette is filled with patrons of the wealthy hotels, my end, which is free, is occupied by local families wishing for some sun and warm water. As I float happily in the sea, I gaze back at the gleaming rows of wealthy stores and mansions, like the iconic Carlton Hotel, home to Grace Kelly and Cary Grant of “To Catch a Thief,” then to the more colorful mixture of babies, children, and their parents who have congregated on the bit of sand. They also are building hotels, mansions, and castles, but all made of sand. My portion of beach heaven reminds me that Cannes used to be a simple fishing village many centuries ago and I wonder how the locals feel about the luxurious turn this city has taken. They shrug their shoulders with a philosophical gleam in their eye and ask what’s not to like about a place where the sun shines for twelve hours during the summer months. I’m happy to follow their advice and discover that although the simple life has disappeared there’s still room for me to build my very own sandcastles in Cannes.