The Cannes Film Festival is set to be even more glamorous than usual this year-the legendary event marks its 65th anniversary when it kicks off on May 16th. Celebrity A-listers, veteran directors and other movie business all-stars will descend on the French coastal town until May 27th, taking part in see-and-be-seen parties and hoping to win the prestigious Palme d'Or award. While Cannes' main screenings are reserved for those with press or film industry accreditation, the festive spirit makes Cannes the place to be, whether you have tickets or not. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide's tips on how to make the most of your trip, and visit our blog at Startle.com for even more travel ideas.
Nikki Beach La Terrasse. Photo courtesy The Patton Group.
What to know
Twenty-two films are up for the Palme d'Or this year, an award chosen by jury president and Italian director Nanni Moretti (last year's president was Robert De Niro), along with a jury including fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and actor Ewan McGregor. While snagging a seat to see one of the competition films is next to impossible without accreditation, you can still catch a screening. Movies in the Out of Competition category and Cannes Classics from years past-including Jaws and Lawrence of Arabia-will be shown on the beach at Plage Mace. The outdoor screenings are open to the public; tickets are available through the Cannes Tourism Office.
Cannes isn't just about films-you can take part in the post-screening scene, too. Nightclub Nikki Beach hosts nightly parties at two locations-Le Grand Hotel's beach and the rooftop at the JW Marriott Cannes. DJs spin tunes into the early hours for the festival crowd, including plenty of celebrities.
Where to stay
Cannes Film Festival's crème de la crème will flock to Hotel Martinez, located on famed boulevard La Croisette, but getting a reservation at the luxe Art Deco hotel might take some movie magic. Also located on the popular street, Le Grand Hotel is a '60s-style hotel featuring lush waterfront gardens and a private beach complete with cabanas. Get ready in a guest room with a modern low-set bed and private terrace, then stop by Le Cercle bar-a piano and mod rust-colored chairs set a cool, swanky tone.
InterContinental Carlton Cannes has a long history with the festival and its stars-Grace Kelly met her future husband Prince Rainier of Monaco here during the 1955 festival. The Belle Époque façade is classic French Riviera, with rooms (including suites named after actors from Sharon Stone to Sean Connery) decorated in neutral colors with views of the Bay of Cannes. The private beach is well-suited for the popular Cannes pastime of sunbathing, or try parasailing from the hotel's pier.
Where to eat
Get close to the action at Hotel Martinez by booking a table at its acclaimed La Palme d'Or restaurant. The sleek restaurant is decorated with black and white photographs of legendary movie stars, but the food takes center stage. Mediterranean dishes made with fresh seafood dominate the menu-try options such as spider crab with truffle dressing and red prawns with zolfini beans and zucchini. Tucked away off La Croisette, La Mère Besson is a longtime Cannes staple. The cuisine is Provençal style, including traditional dishes such as estouffade provençal-a rich beef stew. Take a drive up the coast to Antibes-located about 20 minutes east of Cannes-to Restaurant de Bacon. The seaside restaurant is famous for its seafood, especially the bouillabaisse. The airy dining room's windows and terrace offer views of passing sailboats.