It’s not simply by chance that this year’s 2019 Cannes Film Festival will be the event’s 72nd incarnation. Each year, the city resounds to the fizz and crackle of tens of thousands of camera flashes. Cannes finds itself placed in the spotlight and progressively comes to life as the succession of celebrations and festivities take place. Onlookers and international stars all come together in one location, creating a frenzy of activity that the media report on with gleeful enthusiasm.
Cannes, from palm trees to seafront
When you see the booming coastal resort that Cannes is today, it’s difficult to imagine it as a small fishing village. Nevertheless, that’s what this Côte d’Azur city used to be before it became famous on an international scale. Cannes is especially well-known for its boulevard, La Croisette. Orginally, this was just a simple marshy dirt track that travellers would traverse on foot or by donkey. The sand around it formed dunes up to 50 feet in height.
Then, in 1834, and partly by chance, Lord Brougham happened to make a stop in the village. Taken by the charm of the area, he ended up contributing to its prosperity. As La Croisette began to be transformed, so too did Cannes itself, becoming a favourite place for wealthy people to spend winter. The small huts and cottages gave way to elegant, sophisticated hotels. Luxury shops began to make their appearance, together with pleasantly shaded green spaces. These already sumptuous surroundings are further enhanced by the pristine beaches, which are frequented, with evident pleasure, by both active sporty types and confirmed fans of simply relaxing and doing nothing.
Bathed in the golden rays of the Provençal sun, Cannes is today an international city with its own distinct identity. As well as being the setting for one of the world’s biggest international cultural events, this city on the very edge of the Mediterranean is also a great place to live. And in fact, the number of luxury residences in Cannes is increasing. The city’s villas, penthouses and apartments are attracting both French natives and foreign nationals alike.
These properties come in various configurations and architectural styles. Investors particularly like to have breathtaking views of the sea and be located just a few minutes from the beach. Top-floor apartments are in as much demand as huge properties with gardens and swimming pools. To live in Cannes is to give yourself the opportunity to rub shoulders with famous stars, whether they be from the world of cinema or other celebrity milieux. It’s also to offer yourself the possibility of living every day as if you’re holidaying under clear blue skies, a veritable invitation to go on constant trips and outings.
Cannes is the temple of THE annual cinematic get-together, but that’s not all it is. It also has infrastructure dedicated to sporting activities, history and culture, in all its splendour. As well as being very busy and lively when the festival is taking place, Cannes is also without a doubt a city where boredom never shows its face.
The event that brings together all the giants of the film world
The idea behind the Cannes Film Festival is to showcase film and cinema talent on an international scale. Each year, during the second fortnight in May, actors, producers and other giants of the cinema world all come together in the same place. Whether in the auditoriums or on the beach, a constant aura of glamour and prestige accompanies these celebrities as they mix and mingle together.
Films are selected in several different categories, with the emphasis on the diversity of talent and works on offer. A succession of Midnight Screenings, Out of Competition presentations, Cannes Classics, Special Screenings, etc., takes place. The selection is designed to be eclectic, as much in terms of geographical location as creativity.
The festival is undeniably one of the very best springboards for emerging talent, the people and individuals set to define the future of cinema. It’s also an opportunity for established stars to reaffirm their value. James Gray, Pedro Almodovar, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Claire Denis, Bong Joon Ho, Claude Lelouch, Robert Pattison… the little-known names arouse curiosity whilst the most famous ones are awaited with eager anticipation.
The legendary walk up the stairs
Journalists and onlookers jostle to get as close as possible to the 24 red-carpeted steps, readying themselves for the world-famous red-carpet walk, which receives wall-to-wall coverage from the media.
Treading the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals is the ultimate in glamour and prestige. For 2019, the stars will have the period from the 15 to 24 May to be seen by the whole world as they climb out of their tinted-window limousines and take up their poses on those famous stairs. It’s a tradition celebrities are happy and willing to go along with, much to the crowd’s pleasure and delight. Though there are no exact rules, everyone knows that it’s essential not to make a mistake on the walk up the stairs. News spreads fast in the digital era! The designer of a dress, an actor’s hairstylist, the brands of shoes worn by the stars… nothing escapes the attention of the public, who delight in seeing photos published on the internet almost as soon as they’re taken.
The Cannes stairs symbolise the point at which myth meets reality. There are huge numbers of fans that dream about getting the chance to meet their cinema idols. This walk up the stairs gives them precisely that opportunity. People repeatedly call out the names of the stars in the hope of getting a look or smile from them in return. They hope to touch hands with them and get good photos, which it’s sometimes possible to do. Once the stars have gone inside the Palais, they’re again out of view of the public.
The stairs bring to mind the era when monarchs would show themselves off to their subjects in order to be admired. They reflect the process of attaining fame, or its affirmation. Tourists and Cannes residents alike make the most of the opportunities the occasion provides to live unforgettable moments. In fact, some are perfectly willing to travel halfway round the world for the event. There is a flourishing property market at this time of year, with many villas in Cannes getting quickly rented out, which is also the case on john-taylor.com.
The Cannes Film Festival also provides an opportunity for the giants of cinema to make new contacts and connections. Various dinner events and festivities are therefore organised to help these creatively promising encounters take place. By way of anecdote, a British ambassador living in France once even ended up dancing a flamenco on the table, in stockinged feet, with the actress Imogen Hassall.
The celebrations and festivities associated with the festival are a veritable tradition in themselves. The festival was first held in 1946, which corresponds with the immediate post-war period, though it had been originally planned for 1939. For the occasion, the organisers chose to go with a combination of fashion shows, firework displays, flower parades and other spectacular events. This tradition still continues today.
Each year, the city sends out a number of invitations to local Cannes residents. In 2018, 1,500 people aged between 18 and 28 got to enjoy the use of a “3 days in Cannes” pass. Over the course of the three days in question, the invitees mingled with festival-goers for the walk up the famous stairs, attended buffet dinners and got to take full advantage of a programme of events normally reserved exclusively for the elites. It’s not just at the Palais des Festivals that the parties get into their full swing. They take over the whole of Cannes, immersing the residents in an atmosphere of joy and euphoria for a whole succession of extraordinary days.
The Cannes Film Festival is an event followed closely by the whole world. And with good reason: it is synonymous with glamour and extravagant, eclectic events and celebrations. When it comes to attending the festival, It’s a good idea to have your own pied-à-terre so you can be certain of having the option of staying in Cannes, bearing in mind that the city’s hotels and accommodation get booked up several months in advance.