The red carpet meets the sea in Cannes this month, but the town has a lot to offer besides movie screens. Here’s your quintessential Cannes checklist, providing plenty of ways to fill your days until the sun goes down and the stars come out.
Attend a movie premiere
Even if you don’t think you’ll ever get into one of the festival’s much-hyped movies—try. Many an IgoUgo member has managed to triumph over seemingly strict security. Go Girl! “saw 3-4 films a day, partied all night, and only slept when [she] had to.” Nice, France, timeshare owner bakonwheel crashed the festival after his friend “took a business trip to Los Angeles two weeks before our trip to France, met an executive from Sony Films during a meeting, and mentioned his trip to France during Cannes Festival week. The executive gave him a contact in Cannes, and we ended up getting tickets to a major screening in competition and walked the red carpet with the rest of the stars.” (Um, rest of the stars?) And lbailey says she spent her day in Cannes “wandering around aimlessly by the ocean and red carpet, not seeing any celebrities. Until a man in a tux comes up to my friend and me, pulls out two tickets, and asks if we want to see a film. We think he's kidding until the usher by the theater points us in the direction of the red carpet. We were in a bit of a daze, walking on the red carpet in our most styling backpackers’ wear (which isn't saying much).” If lbailey-caliber luck isn’t in the stars for you, pick up tickets to one of the nightly open-air beach screenings, open to anyone.
Hit the beach
“Can there be anything more inherently Cannes,” indigotima asks, “than to lounge on cushioned recliners beside the ocean with young bronzed Frenchmen offering up drinks and salad?” Well, no. So do stop by a seaside lounge-restaurant and rent a lounge chair from which to gaze at the ocean and throngs of festival-goers. Sun-worshipper indigotima elaborates: “You have a choice of sun or shade. Refreshments are but a pointed glance away. And if you don't wish to be bothered by pesky beach vendors, the wait staff will obligingly shoo them away.” If that’s not star treatment, we don’t know what is.
Stroll La Croisette
“This is one of the most famous promenades in the world,” says Tolik, a festival visitor. “For 3km following the curve of the bay one can see flowering gardens, lawns planted with palm trees, umbrella pines, and other trees all the way to Port Canto, Palm Beach, and a sea-water health spa.” During the Cannes Film Festival, this view includes red-carpet arrivals.
Drive along the Côte d’Azur
EriksA1 is diplomatic—but also correct—when he says, “Cannes is the most glamorous city on the French Riviera...now that is what all the tour brochures say, but my attitude is, all of them are equally glamorous!” You can’t visit the French Riviera without seeing neighboring towns like Nice, St.-Tropez, Antibes, and Monte Carlo, and getting to them is half the fun. Barb B hit all of them, plus Eze, Menton, and St.-Raphael, but was most captivated by the views in between: “We allowed the countryside to weave its way into our minds along this leisurely scenic drive. Sweeping bays and marvelous vistas unfurled.” She didn’t find Cannes itself to be too shabby, either, saying, “The glamorous beaches and endless parade of cafés, nightclubs, and boutiques make this one of the French Riviera's most delightful spots to visit.”
Eat to your heart’s content
It may be on the beach, and it may be “like spring break gone Hollywood” (in Go Girl!’s words), but Cannes is still France, with the cuisine to prove it. You can “be seen, see, and do business” at the grand hotel cafés on La Croisette, or you can chill out with a “wonderfully cheap” panini from one of the promenade’s many concession stands. They don’t taste cheap, though: “I haven't had paninis as good anywhere else in France,” says eliza0214. Of course, there are plenty of middle-of-the-road options on Cannes’ winding streets, where EriksA1 reports, “the food is simple, yet so succulent.”