Cannes Film Festival is the most exclusive event on the calendar, drawing an achingly glamorous roster of celebrities, fashionistas and industry leaders. Aside from film screenings and the tight competition for the prestigious Chopard designed award, the Palme D’Or, the festival is largely about seeing and being seen at all the right places, which means parties, 5* hotels, Michelin star restaurants and most importantly, yachts.
As a destination inherently synonymous with luxury, there’s a fine crop of hotels to pick from though the best are on the waterfront, right at the centre of the action. Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez wins the prize for the best location, conveniently situated on the Boulevard de la Croisette (a long beach promenade packed with designer shop fronts) and overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea with its impressive line-up of super yachts that appear to double in size and extravagance during the festival period.
To give you an idea of the kind of boating caliber you can expect this year, the super slick Silverfast is rumored to make an appearance, along with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s famed Octopus (one of the world’s largest yachts and a Cannes regular), amongst other impressive vessels such as Sea Owl, Monaco Wolf and Vicky. Watch the boats come into mooring from the Martinez’s private beach, one of the best places for people watching during the festival or from The Intercontinental Carlton next door.
The Carlton was made a landmark by Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, and has a beautiful beach terrace where starlets can often been found enjoying a nightcap. Check into one of the hotel’s nine seventh-floor sea-view suites, each named after a film star and decorated in Hollywood old-age glamour, to continue the cinematic theme.
Stars searching for a more tranquil setting away from the festival chaos tend to drive 25 minutes up the coast, to the beautiful Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc whose so called “Golden Booked” is signed a long list of A-Lister guests, including Ralph Fiennes, Mick Jagger, Jennifer Lopez and a scribbled self-portrait by Johnny Depp.
Cannes knows how to party in true style and there aren’t many venues that don’t get swept up in the whirl of excitement during the festival week. Beach side bars such as Z Plage at Martinez, Long Beach and La Plage 45 at the Grand Hotel hold indulgent long lunches for fashionable crowds, and come 6.30pm bring out free cocktails and canapes for sunset schmoozing that tends to get a little rowdy and often leads directly onboard one of the yachts on the waterfront, where most of the coolest after parties take place.
Make sure amFAR is in your diary as the ultimate of Cannes parties: an AIDS fundraiser held at Hotel du Cap on Thursday 19th May with a guestlist of the world’s wealthiest and most beautiful (Leonardo Dicaprio is a regular face here) bidding eight figures during the evening’s art auctions.
The Chopard Gala is the other must on Monday 16th May, where Diana Ross is performing and Mark Ronson DJ-ing for the sparkling attendees. If you’re not rubbing shoulders with Marion Cotillard at Chopard, you should be on-board the Octopus Yacht for Paul Allen’s annual bash held at the same time or ideally, you’d do both.
When hunger strikes, the Martinez’s two-Michelin star restaurant Palme d’Or is exceptional; wonderful food served in an art-deco inspired dining room lined with photographs of the famous faces that could, most likely, also be sitting around you.
Le Park 45 at the Grand Hotel is another gastronomic delight, awarded a Michelin star last year for its menu of light Mediterranean food created by young rising chef, Sébastien Broda. When you’ve had your fill of French food, turn to Le Palais Oriental on the old port for Moroccan cuisine and belly dancing. Or for an even more elite experience invite a chef on board your yacht to dine beneath the starlit sky.