The French Riviera is a beachside paradise that lines the south coast of France. Known for stunning views, nature and a warm climate, it’s the perfect getaway for European travellers seeking an almost tropical-like holiday within the bounds of Europe. All year round, there are plenty of things to do and see in the many towns and cities along the French coast. Go for a morning stroll along the quiet, yet serene beach of Golfe-Juan, get fresh croissants in Cannes or cross the border into Monte Carlo to visit the iconic Monaco Formula 1 race track.
Despite how relaxing the French Riveria can be, for most of the year, things start to get busy around mid-May when the city of Cannes holds one of the biggest film festivals in the world. The Cannes Film Festival is a two-week long event that is a must-visit for all movie lovers, it’s always jam packed with buzzy new films and independent gems. Filmmakers Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese and James Mangold joined this year’s proceedings with Asteroid City, Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, respectively. It’s a jam-packed film festival with much to offer, but it’s not only the films that make the trip worth it, it’s the location.
Thinking about going next year? This is a guide to the Cannes Film Festival that will answer your question!
HOW TO GET TICKETS
Getting into the Cannes Film Festival isn’t too tricky, but getting to see all the films you aspire to see can prove tough. This is because Cannes, unlike other film festivals, doesn’t sell tickets, you must have some form of a badge to enter screenings. The best options for the general public is the “3 Days in Cannes” and “Cannes Cinephiles” passes. All these two forms of accreditation ask for is a written letter of motivation for why you want to attend Cannes, and for the Cinephile pass, some form of identification to show you’re a member of a local cinema.
Getting tickets is a whole other beast. The Cannes Film Festival, in recent years, has opted for an online ticketing system. It’s been known to crash on a consistent basis, but when working almost all the hot tickets are gobbled up in an instant, just like the infamous Ticketmaster concert tickets scandal. If you have ever participated in attempting to get Cannes tickets, especially as non-press, it’s clear that the system needs an overhaul as it entirely favours bots and those lucky enough to click book in the first millisecond. Either they upgrade their online system to handle tickets in a fairer manner or they should go back to in-person queues, although they can be a pain at least they offer everyone a chance at getting into the big movies.
GETTING AROUND CANNES DURING THE FESTIVAL
Cannes gets, naturally, very busy during the film festival due to the massive influx of international tourists. The streets near the Palais des Festivals are crammed with people, especially as the stars and creators of each film hit the red carpet. In the city itself, walking is the best way of getting from place to place as most cinemas are in walking distance. However, for those needing to get to cinemas like Salle Buñuel and Cineum Cinemas, taking the bus is the best option. For Salle Buñuel, Bus 15 from Cannes city port is only a 15 minute journey that will get you right to the cinema. For Cineum, located in Cannes La Bocca, Bus 1 is your best bet as it’s a swift 20 minute ride from the Palais.
If you are visiting other cities during your stay in Cannes, the central train station will be your best friend. SNCF, France’s rail company, operates many lines along the French coast that will give you easy access to each destination. For instance, Monaco is a brisk hour train ride from Cannes, or you can go a few stops further if you want to visit Menton. Going the other way along the coast, Marseille and Saint Tropez can be reached by train and bus.
WHAT CITIES YOU SHOULD VISIT DURING THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
Although watching films may be your priority, if you’re a festival attendee, you should give yourself some time to explore the French Riviera. Cannes itself is a great city, but you may want to go further afield during the festival due to how packed the city is. Côte d’Azur is lined with beautiful cities and towns that beg to be explored. The biggest, most popular cities and towns, apart from Cannes, is Nice, Monte-Carlo, Menton, Marseille and Saint Tropez. Visiting a good two or three is totally doable, and much recommended during a one-to-two week stay.
A nice, smaller town to visit during the Cannes Film Festival is Juan Les Pins, which is part of Antibes commune. Juan Les Pins boasts some of the sandiest beaches in the area, the beach does get packed out as locals from all over come here during the summer. But despite it’s business, it remains a hidden location to most tourists, that is a must visit if you’re craving a picturesque beachside getaway in a smaller town. Right next to it, Golfe-Juan Vallauris is another hidden gem that is even quieter than Juan Les Pins. The two towns are connected by their beaches which is just one long stretch of sand, but Golfe-Juan’s beach is smaller in size and more peaceful as its normally occupied by less people. These are two small towns that you should seriously consider visiting or staying in during the Cannes Film Festival.
VISITING NICE, FRANCE
Nice is a serene beachside hideaway that has so much to offer. It’s the second most populated city on the South of France’s coast behind Marseille, despite this prices are cheaper than it’s neighbouring cities like Monte-Carlo (Monaco) and Cannes.
The first place to visit during your time in Nice is the Promenade des Anglais which lines the beach, it’s a beautiful walk on a nice, sunny day. Next up, step onto the beach and bask in the sunrays for a relaxing time, but remember to bring a blanket or a chair because the beach is stoney. There are some great viewpoints that overlook the entire city and the coastline, the best of all is Colline du Château, so head on up there for the best view in Nice.
Monte-Carlo is known for the lavish lifestyle its residents live, but it’s also a popular tourist destination for those visiting Côte d’Azur. You can drive or walk along the city’s famous Formula One race track, visit its luxurious beaches and explore this minute country in just a couple of days.
For those wanting to experience a bit of the expensive, James Bond-style life head on over to the iconic Monte-Carlo Casino. But if that’s not for you, head on over to Centre commercial de Fontvieille for some browsing in a brilliantly modern shopping mall. Want to take a break from all the walking? Head on over to Place d’Armes for an iced beverage at one of the square’s cafés or head into the indoor food court tucked away next door.
There is a lot to do during the Cannes Film Festival if you give yourself a little time to explore the surrounding towns, cities and beaches. Everywhere is reasonably accesible by train or bus, however, if you’re wanting to explore the more mountainous regions near Eze Village and beyond, consider renting a car or taking a taxi from the station.