A Day Trip to the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is really the climax of the film Industry.

First things first: its “can” more or less like a tin can not “cahns” or “cahn”. Much like many French words, where the “s” at the end of the word is silent.

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If you are even a bit into movies, Hollywood, Bollywood or even regional, then I am sure you have heard of the Cannes Film Festival.

This small beautiful French Riviera town hosts the most prestigious film festival every summer, and this time we were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time.

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Much of the festival’s prestige comes from its exclusivity (industry-only event with no tickets for general public); its history (recently celebrated its 70th year of screening some of the most famous films we know; think > Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver and many more) and its adherence to traditions (Compulsory black bow-tie for men and dresses for women for red-carpet screenings).

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Famous for its glamorous red-carpet screenings where celebrities from all over the world line up for photographs. Cannes has had its share of controversies as well; The backlash over women required to wear heels for the red-carpet premiere and very recently its fallout with Netflix. However, the festival is not only about the glamour, film screenings and yacht parties, it also holds the worlds busiest film market in the world, the Marché du Film (a market for film distribution, shooting-venue and funding agreements).

For a day-trip to Cannes, a base at Marseille or Nice is a good starting point with trains running at regular intervals throughout the day. Here are the top things to do to make the most of your day here:

  • 11 am : Head over to Boulevard de la Croisette, the main promenade by the beach leading to all the events in the film festival. Grab a baguette sandwich and icecream and sit by the carousel, soak in the vibe of the festival and get ready for the adventurous day ahead. The boulevard is the best place for some celeb-spotting.

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  • 12 noon : Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is a convention centre where the main red-carpet screenings take place; the core of the festival with everything hovering around it. The screenings happen in shifts and start in the afternoon, however, schedules may differ. Being there early afternoon allows sufficient time for some customary red carpet photographs. We met Neena Gupta and Vikash Khanna who were there for the screening of their movie “The last colour”.

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  • 1 pm : Le Croisette is one of the most famous restaurants in Cannes. The restaurant is ideally located right in front of the Palais so that you are in the middle of the action. Order a Pizza (good vegetarian options available) and a smoothie. It is a perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon, enjoying the bustling festival from your seat and just people watch (Read > glamorous people watch :P). Everyone is dressed their best here, so Megha got great cues on whats latest trending in fashion.

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  • 3 pm : Don’t forget! Cannes is also part of the French Riviera, known for its pristine white beaches. Take a dip in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean or sit by the shores and enjoy the horizon dotted with cruise ships and luxury yachts.

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  • 4 pm : There is an Indian pavilion at the Marché du Film, marketing India’s film industry. If you request the main official, they might just give you a free pass to any of the screenings happening around the festival. We met Sharad Kelkar, an acquaintance of Megha’s who got us in the pavillion, lovely gesture on his part. We were there for the poster launch of a few national and regional films. The pavilion also had a private cabana facing the beach, a great place to chill with a few drinks.

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  • 5 pm : Its time for the main event, go there early and grab yourself a nice view of the red carpet. There is a separate enclosure “Public-Last minute” which is right at the entrance of the Palais. “If you are dress well”, join the line and the tuxedo-clad security should let you in into the area. As the crema creme of the film industry make their way on the red carpet, save your eyes from the blinding flashes as the journalists from around the world go on a rampage for their perfect shot. This is it! The pinnacle of the global film industry.

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  • 8 pm : Grab a pizza from Le Criosette for the journey back, a perfect end to an unforgettable experience.

PS: You can crash Cannes too – There is strictly enforced rule that any ticket-holder who is unable to attend any screening is blacklisted from the festival, hence there are many last minute ticket giveaways. “If you dress well” and are lucky and have a placard with tickets please, you can get yourself access to film premiers for free. I think, one day is a bit of a stretch to try this, but there are people who try this over the course of the entire eleven days of the festival. Additionally, there are free open-air screenings every night at 9 pm on the beach, be sure to get early to grab the chairs, if not, sit down on the beach for a romantic evening.

Cannes should be on everyone itinerary. As a climax of the cinematic world during the film festival and other times as a quaint beach town in the heart of French Riviera.

 

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