How to Party Like a Star in Cannes
You don’t have to be an actress like Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz to live it up in Cannes. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
The 67th Festival de Cannes just ended amid screening reviews, hordes of black cars and wall-to-wall evening attire marching down the Promenade de la Croisette. Regardless of whether it’s your first time here or they know your name at La Palais, it’s difficult to go without feeling like a celebrity in Cannes, a city that’s dripping in luxury.
If you’d like to attend next year’s festival and don’t know any famous or rich people to help you sneak into the ultra-exclusive events, here’s a primer to get you ready. Or, you can soak up some of these spots now in a much more relaxed setting.
The exoticism begins the minute you land in Nice, where despite prevalent protests around transportation concerns, all the cool kids are pulling out their smartphones and calling for an Uber. This is only Uber’s second year in Cannes, yet their sleek vehicles line the streets — and the air. The ride-share service debuted UberJET this week, a nearly $9,000 private jet ride from Paris to Nice where a car awaits to drive you the rest of the trip. Though the stunt was only announced May 12, celebs like Lindsay Lohan are already enjoying the privileges.
Although Cannes is home to six 5-star hotels, to really sleep like a celebrity, there are only three true options.
(Courtesy: Intercontinental Carlton Cannes)
Schmoozing Hollywood movers and shakers love the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes. During film festival days, the Carlton is home to meet-ups and press conferences, so it’s continually mobbed with journalists, producers and other power players sharing a quick bite between meetings, or a drink en route to another screening. All decked out in fairy-tale Belle Epoque facade with a seductive hustle within and sweeping views of the Bay of Cannes outside, it’s difficult not to fall in love with the 103-year-old hotel. A stay at this posh hotel is like a film festival of its own: The Carlton was prominently featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief and has been the target of a handful of actual jewel heists.
Celeb-searching at the Hotel Martinez. (Photo: Bex Walton/Flickr)
Just a few minutes down the boulevard, the Hotel Martinez is the ultimate spot for celebrities seeking a little privacy; even party organizers and sponsors have to use side access to the hotel, barring them from the lobby and shared areas where celebs roam free. If you do manage to get inside the Art Deco hotel, you’ll find one of the contenders for largest penthouse in Europe—and one of the most expensive in the world at over $37,000 a night—and La Palme d’Or, a two-star Michelin dining experience, which is known for attracting French celebs coming in from interviews across the street at the Martinez’s private beach.
Built in 1926 and featuring a Christian Dior Suite, the Hotel Majestic Barriere is a classic with a decidedly un-classic role to fill at the festival this year. It’s home to the party for the Hunger Games series, though the screening isn’t occurring at this festival. Because of the connection to Jennifer Lawrence and crew, the Majestic has been stalked by anxious fans hoping to see the star trio or gaze at the bright red and gold mockingjay symbols covering the entrance to the property, a little bit of an eyesore on such a gorgeous building. Sans festival, the sleek and luxurious rooms of the Majestic feature expansive (and peaceful) views of the Mediterranean Sea.
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
You can see movies in several designated locations around Cannes, but arguably the most pomp and circumstance happens on the red carpet of the Grand Theatre Lumière. Entrance to events at this location is invitation-only and by attending, you agree to be photographed, which means wearing your absolute best black-tie to the showing. To enter a movie at the Lumiere, festival goers first pass through a thicket of the most well-dressed scalpers on the planet, holding signs pleading for “one extra ticket!” or begging “first time here! Any extra tickets?” The most creative of the bunch, like a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, or a trio of retro-dressing young ladies, do achieve ticketed status and enter the holding pen, leading to a walk down the famed red carpet.
When it’s meal time during the festival, the who’s who lunch on whitefish and foie gras at the super-exclusive Plage des Palmes beyond the International Village tents. The food is absolutely stellar—there’s a gold and silver Stella Artois lounge on site and the views of the bay are phenomenal, but the main attraction is the parade of power producers from myriad international film houses, creating a United Nations of entertainment and some A+ people watching. When festival crowds clear out, this area still provides a fantastic view of the city, particularly of the bocce courts across the street where locals duke it out in the sand.
(Courtesy: Le Festival)
Or, try to get a table for lunch at Le Festival, where celebrities brunch during festival, or even during off-season vacations, and take a time out from shop talk for delicious meals. It’s not the easiest table to secure and obviously photos are frowned upon, but your patience will be rewarded with fantastic people watching and a prime location minutes from Le Suquet and the beach.
Le Suquet shows off the old town of Cannes. (Photo: Paulo/Flickr)
If you get the chance to walk up to Le Suquet, a mini retreat into the old town of Cannes, the Marche Forvil offers a market of meats, cheeses, wines, lavender, breads and everything else you’d want for your French escape. The cobblestoned streets and colorful homes decorated with window boxes and bicycles are a world away from the hustle of the streets below. The shopkeepers are effortlessly friendly and will point out what you’re looking for, whether it’s a butcher, a handmade jewelry shop, ice cream parlor, or simply a dark cafe for a romantic interlude and some coffee. If you’re a budding photographer, or just like to play one on Instagram, this is where you’ll find your killer shots.
Walk down from this charming neighborhood, and you’ll be confronted with the croisette. The stretch along Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert is a peaceful departure from the crowds in front of the resorts, seems to attract fewer gusts of wind because of its position inset from the bay, and it’s a fantastic vantage point for watching yachts pull in to the docks. Alert for shy Americans: This is a topless beach, like others on the French Riviera, so leave your judgement in your hotel safe.
The view from the Radisson Blu. (Courtesy of hotel)
Yachts are big business in Cannes and tend to host the best, if not most exclusive parties. If you manage to hear about one, you can find the biggest and most luxurious boats docked along the Plage des Palmes. Throughout the year, you can rent boats for your own jaunts to the islands or throw your own party, or you can rent space and instruction on a scuba diving boat. The dock is also where you’ll find passage to Monaco, Ile Saint-Honorat and other day trips (full story here).
To end the night right, the Radisson Blu’s rooftop allows for 360-degree views of Cannes from its vantage point on Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert, right across from the beach. The bar has a relaxed vibe, and tends to the after-after-after party crowd, when you just need one more celebration before bed. Order from their limited, but chic drink menu, and watch the sun go down (or come up) over the mountains and the water in style.