History of Le Cannet

The founding families

familles fondatricesA history linked to the monks

The unusual history of Le Cannet surfaces as you stroll around the old town. It first bore the charming name of Olivetum due to its many olive groves planted by the Romans. In those days a major road, via Julia (named after the daughter of Emperor Augustus), passed over the hills. Traces of it can still be found today.

Between 400 and 410 C.E., a monk named Saint-Honorat came to the island with Saint-Caprais and a few other companions, and settled there in search of solitude. Joined by a crowd of disciples, Saint-Honorat founded a community – In which the monks led "common life" – that became a huge monastery in 427 C.E. The Lérins monks later inherited the port of Cannes from Guillaume Gruetta, the youngest son of Rodoard, Count of Antibes.

It was in the year one thousand that Le Cannet began its existence. A single thought then haunted the soul of its inhabitants: "Earn today the right to God's mercy as the end of the world is near". The best way to succeed in this was to donate to the church and religious houses a part or the entirety of one's property, usually farmland. The Lérins monastery thus prospered materially in the Cannet area. The earliest mention of Le Cannet figures in a legal document dating back to the 19th of January 1281, by which the major-sacristan of Lérins gave Olivier Isnard de Mougins a piece of land situated on the location of Le Cannet.


Read more ...

The Lime kiln

four-a-chauxThe birth of a hamlet around an intersection

At the end of the 19th century, around 1880, a new neighbourhood emerged: The Lime Kiln. It is considered a lieu-dit "formed by a cluster of workers' houses due to the quarries and other industries". The Lime Kiln at first represented the housing zone along the Grasse road, and this location would later become the site of the future place Foch. Several names remind us still of the quarries and their prosperous exploitation that sparked the Lime Kiln's growth: boulevard du Perrier, rue des Roches... The only establishments at the time were a food and drink kiosk and a local tax office, the management of which was entrusted to Cannes. The latter would collect the tax for transferring certain goods from one town to another.


A sharp increase

The hamlet population grew rapidly, partly due to the exploitation of its quarries and lime kilns. From the end of the 19th century, it also began to welcome many Italian day labourers and workers. On the Côte d'Azur, construction sites such as that of the Boulevard Carnot were abundant, demanding a large labour force. These Italian immigrants soon represented the majority of the population, and became perfectly integrated. At the turn of the 20th century, a real community was established thanks to the housing development and the installation of a telephone exchange. This growth did not go unnoticed by the local municipal officials, nor by the church, which was quick to show its interest in this young population.

Its inhabitants were then faced with the problem of funerals, having to convey their deceased loved ones by their own means to the Sainte-Catherine Church, one hour's walk away. The clergy therefore decided to build a new church in front of the stone quarry. The construction of the Saint-Charles des Carrières Church started in May 1911. It was inaugurated with great pomp the following November.

Read more ...

Key dates


First mention of Le Cannet
The earliest mention of Le Cannet figures on a legal document dating back to the 19th of January, 1281. In it, the head of the Lérins abbey granted a plot of land located ad Cannetum in perpetual emphyteusis to Olivier Isnard, a Mougins bourgeois. This territory, with its rather vague boundaries, was said to belong to Mougins at the time. It was later absorbed into the territory of Cannes.



First families
Following a dramatic fall in population during the reign of Queen Jeanne due to the effects of the plague, wars and pillaging, there was an increase in actes d'habitation (real estate contracts) registered in eastern Provence. These emphyteutic lease holds were mainly made with people originating from the Genoa river area. The aim was to repopulate deserted villages and exploit the land that had been abandoned.

The first acte d'habitation of Le Cannet dates back to the 5th of February, 1441. In it, Dom André de Plaisance, head of the Lérins hospital, granted several pieces of land emphyteutically to Sylvestre Calvy, a tanner from Val d'Oneille in Liguria. This contract is considered to be the foundation stone that led to the construction of a permanent settlement. The Calvy family, the first to settle in Le Cannet, then brought in more settlers from Val d'Oneille, known as "Figons" by the inhabitants.

Read more ...