The annual Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) is hosted each year in May at the Palais des Festivals beside Vieux Port and is one of the French Riviera’s primary events and a major Festival on the global film circuit.
The 69th Festival starts on 11 May and runs until 22 May 2016.
The Cannes Film Festival is iconic and Cannes itself is a fitting backdrop to the proceedings – luxury hotels are booked well in advance and fashion boutiques line the Croisette, while the same designer garments are draped over the celebrities on the red carpet. Every big name luxury brand wants a piece of the action from diamond-dripping jewellery to luxe supercars, expensive liquor to makeup brands.
I have curated this post ‘Cannes Film Festival 2016: Insider Tips No One Tells You’ with local tips and advice to help Festival attendees get the most out of your visit whether you are in Cannes for the first time or a regular attendee.
Note: This guide is the only online guide for Cannes Film Festival that specifically includes supplementary ‘Access Notes’ after most sections giving information for persons with reduced mobility to enable them to enjoy the Festival. I hope you find this informative and share it on social media.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2016
Woody Allen’s Café Society starring Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Steve Carrell and Parker Posey will open the Festival and it signals the third time the director has kicked off the Festival, following 2002’s Hollywood Ending and 2011’s Midnight in Paris.
The Festival Jury & La Palme d’Or
This year’s Festival Jury is presided over by Australian screenwriter, producer and director George Miller (of Mad Max credit) who will be joined by other jury members that include Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Paradis, Donald Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst, László Nemes and Valeria Golino and their aim is to decide the award winners between 21 films in competition including the winner of the coveted Palme d’Or.
The Palme d’Or is the highest accolade at the Cannes Film Festival, awarded to the best film in the official selection. Since 1998, the trophy has been crafted annually at the Chopard workshops in Meyrin near Geneva, it takes 7 craftsmen around 40 hours for the process including injecting fair mined certified gold into the mould and mounting it to the rock crystal pedestal.
Get in early
For first timers to Cannes, the first weekend is traditionally the busiest and the first week is most preferred by buyers of film distribution rights at Marché du Film as attendance drops off in the last few days of the Festival. So, in essence go early to bag the best chance for industry success.
There are various accreditation types to gain access to screenings, pavilions and events ranging from Buyer passes to Producers Network accreditation and of course, highly sought after Press accreditation.
For spectators (i.e. visitors / tourists hoping to see celebrities), the red carpet sashaying happens twice nightly at 7pm and 10pm when the Jury watch the films in competition at the Palais and the main stars show up.
For a copy of the screenings guide for Cannes Film Festival 2016, you can download it here: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/assets/File/WEB-2016/PDF/2016_HORAIRES%20CANNES%20web2.pdf
Other screenings include Un Certain Regard, Cinéfondation, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (also known as the Director’s Fortnight and a budget-friendly way for the public to see a film), and Short Films In Competition. A sidebar festival is Entr’2 Marches which runs alongside the main Festival from 15 to 20 May 2016 and screens short films with the themes of disability.
Cannes Film Festival Parties
As well as a hub for business networking, Cannes hosts some epic parties including those thrown by Wild Bunch, Variety and Film 4.
THE event to be at each year is the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala night; 2016 sees the 23rd gala fundraiser hosted at the legendary Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Cap d’Antibes on Thursday 19 May. Every supermodel, actor and producer in town attends – here’s a video of last year’s amfAR event:
I’m often asked what the dress code is for tourists to Cannes during Film Festival – if you’re going in the day, smart casual is normal but in the evenings party attire is perfectly fine. For those lucky enough to get to the gala screenings, the dress code is black tie/evening wear. The weather in May can swing from baking hot to rain storms so be ready for all seasons!
Cinema de la Plage 2016
Each year, free screenings are held on the beach for the public and you can see Cannes Classics and out-of-competition films.
To find the Cinema de la Plage open-air cinema, go to Plage Macé which is the public beach beside the Palais des Festivals and opposite the Majestic Barriere Hotel. You can’t miss the huge film screen and sound system on the beach!
The Cannes Office du Tourisme will tell you to reserve in advance, but it’s not necessary, entrance is free and you don’t have to show a physical ticket.
Screenings are listed as starting at 9pm but usually commence from 9.30pm nightly. If you want one of the deckchairs, show up early (many people arrive before 7pm).
The front row chairs are often reserved for film industry execs and sometimes the Hollywood stars show up (in 2014, I spotted Adrian Grenier from Entourage, Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and Uma Thurman who showed up for Pulp Fiction). Keep your eyes open for surprise guests!
If you miss out on a deckchair, there is plenty of room on the right-hand side of the screen on the sand so take a picnic blanket.
It may be warm and sunny during the day, but Plage Macé can get chilly at night especially if there is a mistral blowing. Take warm clothes and rain protection as the entire zone is uncovered.
There are no food facilities, but you are able to take a picnic. We have taken a bottle of wine and plastic glasses before also with no problems; please respect the environment and take all your rubbish away with you.
The nearest public toilets are located on the Croisette just past the children’s play ground, they are usually open late during the Cinéma de la Plage screenings.
Access notes: Persons with reduced mobility can access the beach via a concrete ramp at the Cinema de la Plage site, there is no specific area set aside for disabled people but there is plenty of room for you.
The Cinema de la Plage schedule for 2016 is:
Thursday 12 May Purple Rain – Albert Magnoli, 1984, duration 1 hour 50 minutes
Friday 13 May King of Hearts (Le Roi de Coeur) – Philippe de Broca, 1966, duration 1 hour 42 minutes
Saturday 14 May Coup de Tête – Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1979, duration 1 hour 32 minutes
Sunday 15 May Surprise film
Monday 16 May The Endless Summer – Bruce Brown, 1966, duration 1 hour 35 minutes
Tuesday 17 May The Great Dictator (with Charlie Chaplin) – 1940, duration 2 hours 5 minutes
Wednesday 18 May Sorcerer – William Friedkin, 1977, duration 2 hours
Thursday 19 May The Easy Life (Il Sorpasso) – Dino Risi, 1962, duration 1 hour 45 minutes
Friday 20 May Kiss Me Deadly – Robert Aldrich, 1955, duration 1 hour 46 minutes
Saturday 21 May We All Loved Each Other So Much (C’eravamo Tanto Amati) – Ettore Scola, 1974, duration 2 hours
WHY VISIT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL?
Cannes Film Festival may appear a crazy mix for first-timers; international media focuses on the red carpet, the awards, the charity galas, the fashion and the celeb sightings but you won’t find much reporting of road closures, numerous security personnel, wait staff with attitude to boot and photographers and camera crews clawing for their space on every spare inch of pavement on the Croisette.
However, it’s a fantastic place for people-watching and you really do see all walks of life during the Festival. Festival spectators bring their own seats and ladders to the Croisette in the hope of seeing a movie star on the red carpet – frequently, their view is of the back of someone else’s head, but we can all dream of a slice of cinema magic.
Cannes Film Festival is a magic event where cinema welcomes the big names and emerging talent to this glossy town that once was a fishing village – if you get the chance to visit the French Riviera during Film Festival I highly recommend it.
PRACTICAL DOWNLOADS FOR CANNES
- If you’re attending the Festival, click onto this pdf link for the map of the Festival sites
- For the layout of the actual Palais, click here
- Access notes: For persons requiring disabled access, download this accessmap for entry points to the Palais
- For a tourist map of Cannes, click on this link Cannesmap
- Download the free bilingual (English and French) mobile application ‘Festival de Cannes’ available for iPhone, iPad and Android to stay updated with hour-by-hour coverage, film trailers, videos from the red carpet and more.
- On Twitter, you can follow @Festival_Cannes with hashtag #Cannes2016. You’ll also find official Festival updates on Facebook, Instagram and Festival TV.
The most popular option to arrive in Cannes is via bus or train. Central Cannes and the zones around the Palais and Croisette are flat and paved, and the distance from the train station to the Croisette is only 5 minutes walk.
If you’re driving, be aware that the large carparks nearby and under the Palais des Festivals are extremely busy. There are road closures during Cannes Film Festival, notably the Croisette, and police frequently block roads for major stars exits from hotels and restaurants.
It’s a given that Festival combines business with pleasure and you’ll experience some memorable (and forgettable) parties, however be aware that if you decide to stay out late you may end up for paying pricey cab fares. Public transport schedules at night are limited and taxis are expensive; try to pre-book a transfer before you hit the nightlife.
Cannes train station
The Cannes train station (Gare de Cannes SNCF) has ticket counters with attendants, but you can also purchase your train tickets from the self-service ticket machines.
TOP TIPS: Use coins for the self-service ticket machines as they can be temperamental and often they can’t read non-French issued credit and debit cards. The self-service machines have English language options so you don’t need to be fluent in French.
ZOU ! Hebdo is a train ticket valid for 7 consecutive days and gives you up to 75% fare discounts and they are available to tourists or residents. You have to specify your origin point and destination point – for example, Juan les Pins or Antibes to Cannes. These passes give you super savings if you’re in the region for Cannes Film Festival. TER SNCF, the regional train providers offer many different fare discounts including discounts if you’re under 26 years of age so ask at the ticket counters as they don’t willingly sell them unless you ask!
ALL tickets must be validated before boarding your train, look for the yellow validating machine (compostage de billets) at the entrance to the platforms.
The train station has a newsagent selling newspapers, phone credit, cigarettes, snacks. There are caféterias and vending machines onsite, and high tables with connections for smartphones and tablets.
Well-maintained and clean public toilets are located just outside the station, 50 metres to the left of the station entrance. These toilets are open Monday-Sunday 8am-9pm (excluding bank holidays), these toilets cost 50 centimes and you insert your coin into the automated turnstile and it opens the gate. There are 2 ladies toilets, 2 men’s toilets and a parent’s room with baby changing facilities. There is a change machine there to swap notes for coins but it is often out of order so don’t rely on it.
Access notes: Persons with reduced mobility can contact ONET Accueil in the main hall of Cannes train station (service available Monday through to Sunday 7.30am-7.30pm) where they can assist passengers with luggage and access on and off trains. All interior facilities of the train station including the public toilets are on flat ground and accessible.
Getting to Cannes you can take the following bus routes:
- Bus 200 (between Nice and Cannes)
- 210 line (between Nice Airport and Cannes via the highway)
- 200 line Noctambus (a night service exclusively for Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights and bank holidays between Nice Airport and Cannes)
All of the above timetables and prices current as at 07 May 2016 are found here: https://www.departement06.fr/vous-deplacer-en-bus/lignes-et-horaires-3029.html
The journey on Bus 200 takes around 1.5 hours for the full oneway journey from Nice to Cannes, but it is by far the cheapest option at €1.50 oneway. To compare, the train journey from Nice to Cannes takes about 40 minutes. It should be noted that Bus 200 is a local bus that is particularly busy during peak hours and luggage storage is limited onboard.
The Cannes bus stops are the Gare Routiere (near Hôtel de Ville and the port), and outside the train station (the 200 stop is opposite Hotel Ligure).
Local Cannes buses with Palm Bus cover the greater Cannes area and nearby zones of Le Cannet, Palm Beach and Mandelieu-La Napoule. Their website is in English, French and Italian with maps and timetables – visit it here www.palmbus.fr
Access notes: Buses have kneeling ramp entrances and designated wheelchair areas midway on the bus. On main route number 200 there are on board visual route maps, lighted signage and sound calls advising of the next bus stop to assist hearing and sight-impaired travellers. Wheelchair bound travellers also have an on demand service for regional buses called Access06 whereby you can pre-book a designated minibus ; more information is here (in French only) https://www.departement06.fr/accessibilite-des-transports/service-access06-4020.html
For helicopter transfers, private chauffeured transfers or classic car rental, I recommend using registered businesses that know the region well. Find out more in my Cannes Film Festival 2016: Supplier List
WINE AND DINE
Don’t be discouraged from a few sundowners or a meal out in Cannes for fear of breaking your bank balance during Film Festival. Here are Access Riviera’s suggestions for places to go for well-priced food and drinks, great atmosphere or a true Cannois experience:
La Boulangerie par Jean Luc Pelé, 3 rue du Vingt-Quatre Août
If you need a snack on the run, head here for artisan breads, salads (most priced around €6-€7), sandwiches, fruit salad and yoghurt, open Monday-Saturday 7.30am-7.30pm.
Or grab some chocolates and macarons at Jean-Luc Pélé’s patisserie-chocolatier shops on rue de Meynadier and rue d’Antibes.
Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. No toilet facilities.
Le Petit Majestic, rue Tony Allard
Le Petit Majestic is a lounge bar that actually is a Festival street party. Festival attendees rock up here pre and post-event to mingle and network, and the French authorities don’t bat an eyelid at people drinking beer in the street.
L’Epicurieux, 6 rue des Frères Casanova
A wine bar first and foremost, they serve excellent antipasti platters as well as pasta, salads and steak. The café gourmand is great and they regularly have live music.
Le Jardin Secret, 2 rue Frères
Le Jardin Secret is located in Le Suquet (Old Town) and is a low-key place with entry through a narrow bar area/art gallery. Open from 7pm (also open for weekend brunches) if you’re looking for white table linen and silver service dining don’t go there – they serve tapas-style dishes in a laidback manner.
Lovely little garden courtyard and Wifi. Look for the entrance on rue Frères through the old door and the sign with the key. Follow them on their Facebook page for current news on opening times as they close for private events.
Access notes: Accessible but can get crowded in the garden.
Le Tube, 10 rue Florian
Super stylish, modern with a slightly industrial feel with brickwork, exposed pipes and graffiti artworks Le Tube offers French food with a modern twist. The steak is good, but be warned its pricey. An excellent choice for pre or post-Festival meet ups.
Access notes: Fully accessible.
Le Tikawa, Allées de la Liberté
It may not be the hub for industry wheeling-and-dealing, however this local snack kiosk sells tasty decent-sized salads, paninis and cold beers – all for a fraction of the price at neighbouring restaurants.
My favourite salad costs a wallet-pleasing €7 and its an under-the-radar option where you can get a table beside the plane trees, have a quick bite to eat and watch the locals playing pétanque.
Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. Nearest accessible toilet facilities are automated pay toilets in the square.
Ma Nolan’s, 6 rue Buttura
One of Cannes better pubs and found on a corner site close to the Palais des Festivals, Ma’s gets a lot of Festival foot traffic. Head there for tap beers, pub food, live music, and sports coverage such as football on TV. www.manolans.com
Access notes: Fully accessible outside tables on flat ground, however there are stairs up to interior of the bar and toilet facilities.
I can’t mention food in Cannes without a tip to go to Marché Forville.
As well as fruit, vegetables, cheese, cured and fresh meat, seafood etc there are specialty shops around the perimeter of the main covered market including a shop selling regional products and duck, a Fish and Chips shop, a salmon and caviar store, a bakery (boulangerie), a roast chicken store, and a socca vendor.
Many bistros and bars are around the Marché Forville, and there are also a few supermarkets there – LeaderMarket, SPAR, and Picard for frozen foods (good for people staying in apartments who are self-catering).
The market is open every day from 7am-1pm, except on Monday when it is a bric-a-brac flea market.
Access notes: The entire market is accessible and on flat paved ground. There is an accessible ground-floor toilet at Café de l’Horloge next to the market.
Philcat, promenade de la Pantiero
Head to promenade de la Pantiero beside the port to the unassuming blue and white snack kiosk where Philcat serves one of the best pan-bagnats in Cannes. For those not already in the know, a pan-bagnat is a regional specialty (of Nice) and comprises of a pain de campagne (French sourdough) or white bread bun filled with salad Niçoise.
Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. Nearest accessible toilet facilities are automated pay toilets in the square across the road.
Rue Hoche is a great place to grab a meal, coffee or drink. I can recommend:
- Le Cirque with lots of seating outside or indoors upstairs if you need a quieter space, most mains cost under €15 and they have good coffee. Access notes: Fully accessible outside terrace on flat ground, however toilet facilities are located upstairs.
- Volupte Anytime is a tearoom but has some of the best coffee in Cannes! Great cakes, sandwiches and salads for reasonable prices.
Here are some places in Cannes to find Wifi:
- Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) gardens across from the port. For details on how to log on, click ẀifiCannes
- Mocca (directly opposite the Palais des Festivals)
- La Potinière du Palais (on square Merimee)
- New York New York (Allée de la Liberté Charles de Gaulle)
- Cristal Café (rue Felix Faure)
- Le Melting Pot (rue de la Rampe; the opposite side of the port from the Palais des Festivals)
- Factory Café (Gray d’Albion shopping arcade)
LAST MINUTE ACCOMMODATION
Cannes is a money pot for rental companies and generally any accommodation centrally located in Cannes will increase room rates dramatically for Film Festival.
I’d advise Festival attendees to book through reputable sources or if you use 3rd-party sites check out some reviews.
This can be difficult to avoid, however sadly when Festival arrives it brings fraudulent companies to the scene so check, check and double check the authenticity of your accommodation source. French-registered rental businesses should have a physical address, contact details and a SIRET or SIREN number (business registration).
Overseas accommodation representatives should email you full booking details including local contact numbers, so take the time to check before parting with your cash.
Some fraudulent company names to avoid that have duped Festival goers in previous years include: Business Travel International or Expo Travel Group, Cannes Events, Euro-Events, Global Living Group, Premier Destinations, Riviera Network, The Ultimate Living Group, Universal Shows or Splendor.
Staying outside central Cannes can be a more financially feasible option for many Festival goers. Possibilities include Mandelieu la Napoule, Cannes La Bocca, Le Cannet, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins or Antibes.
Here are some suggestions for last minute Festival accommodation for attendees who may have a smaller budget, are travelling solo or are happy to commute:
Antibes is just 15 minutes by train to Cannes – stay in a cute one bedroom apartment on the first floor of an old fisherman’s cottage in Old Town Antibes, Wifi, close to all town amenities including restaurants, beaches and the covered market. Bookings and enquiries via https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5911531?s=8&user_id=15895004&ref_device_id=217525741291f1b9cc6c4ff0d9a1b993c04efc84
Juan les Pins
Juan les Pins is 12 minutes by train to Cannes – Hotel Astor is 5 minutes from the Juan les Pins train station and bus stop to Cannes, and located in a quiet residential street. It is run by a friendly bilingual French couple who have a number of clean and comfortable spacious rooms and studios. Free Wifi, flat screen TV’s, free parking and some accommodations with balcony or patio terrace. Bookings and enquiries via http://astorhotel.fr/
Just off boulevard Carnot, close to Cannes there is a studio with own entrance with some availability for the end of Festival, sleeps 2. Wifi, and 1 minute from bus route which takes 5 minutes to get into Cannes (or walkable in 25 minutes). Bookings via https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/741466
Mandelieu la Napoule
Villa Béthanie has two bedrooms with king-sized beds, Wifi, parking, it’s on the bus route to Cannes and Nice Airport and large outdoor entertaining space with BBQ. Book via https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8751253?guests=4&s=3XZ7rXAx
Villa sleeping 6 located in Mouans Sartoux with short distance to local restaurants, golf course and shopping. Book via https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5079395?s=8
Le Club Mougins Diamond Resorts have single and duplex accommodation in a resort-style hotel close to golf courses, restaurants and just 8.6 kilometres from Cannes. There are some renovations being undertaken so enquire at time of booking if this affects your room.
Roquefort les Pins
Perfect for a post Festival stay to wind down, there are rooms (bookable per night) and apartments (minimum 3 night stay) available in a 17th-century restored manor located between Cannes, Grasse and Nice. Bookings and enquiries via Mas Shabanou
If you’ve left your Cannes accommodation until the last minute, you can also ask at the Office du Tourisme at the Palais des Festivals as they often have updated information on hotel availability and get last minute rates to fill rooms at partner hotels.
FREE THINGS TO SEE & DO
If you are not an actor, crew, director, or have a Press Pass or Festival badge, you can still visit Cannes and enjoy the atmosphere at the Film Festival for free (or a low budget). Here are a few inside tips:
Allée des Étoiles du Cinema
Outside the Office de Tourisme at the base of the Palais des Festivals, you can see handprints from movie stars but it is nowhere near as extensive (or publicised) as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and there’s no plaques with information.
If you’re spending a few days on the French Riviera and really into immortalised handprints, Juan les Pins also has a Walk-of-Fame of jazz stars from the annual Jazz à Juan Festival, and Monaco has a Champions Promenade which pays tribute to some of the world’s best footballers.
Access notes: Fully accessible on paved flat surface.
Cannes cinema murals
For over a decade, Cannes has been developing a series of film-themed murals scattered around the city on walls of buildings.
There are 15 in total, including murals of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and cars from films.
For the map of where to find each mural and descriptions, download this pdf the Murs peints de Cannes
Access notes: Fully accessible on flat paved surfaces.
The Croisette buzzes during Film Festival and is one of the best seafront promenades on the French Riviera, with a huge cross-section of people found there during Film Festival – keen tourists, wannabe celebrities with their own ‘rent-a-photographer’ following them, men in tuxedos at 9 a.m, champagne guzzlers at beach restaurants, and every dressed-up fashion addict in town strutting along hoping to be snapped by any one of the many photographers.
It’s all great fun and superbly entertaining.
Walk along the Croisette and you’ll see the promotional billboards draping down the façades of the hotels from the film production companies.
The top hotels for star spotting are the Carlton Intercontinental, Hotel Martinez and the Majestic Barrière. Security is intense for all the hotels, but you can join the spectators and paparazzi crowding the road frontages for free; enter inside you better have a hefty credit card limit. The beach restaurants are set up with marquees for the private events.
To break up the frenzy for families, there is a small fairground area with carousel (fee applies) and a public playground near to the Palais, and also another small public playground at the other end of the Croisette.
Access notes: The Croisette is paved and flat all the way from the Palais des Festivals to Port Canto, and there are accessible public toilets along the Croisette.
Le Suquet is Cannes Old Town, interspersed with old houses spilling over with flower boxes, brick-vaulted entrances, small alleyways and numerous restaurants.
While the Croisette, Palais des Festivals and the seafront hotels are famously busy (and expensive) during the Festival, Le Suquet goes about each day almost unaware an international festival is happening mere minutes away.
To get to the church and Musée de la Castre at the summit (fee applies to enter the museum, excluding the 1st Sunday of the month when entry is free), walk up rue Saint-Antoine, rue du Suquet, and then Traverse de la Tour. The views from the top are some of the best in the area stretching across Cannes, the Lerins Islands and the Esterels.
Access notes: Wheelchair bound or tourists with reduced mobility can still visit the top to enjoy the views, though the streets are steep! Follow rue Saint-Antoine, rue du Suquet, rue du Pré then rue Louis Perrisol. This route follows paved flat roads and avoid the many stairways in Le Suquet. Or jump onboard the Petit Train tourist train that departs from near the Palais des Festivals as it chugs it way up there too.
Vieux Port (old port)
Stroll for free along the port admiring the expensive superyachts berthed there. Many yachts host private parties in the evening so it’s a good time to wander past for a nosey.
Access notes: Fully accessible on paved flat surface.
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