How I managed not to see a single star in Cannes


Côte d'Azur - French RivieraNature and Outdoor ActivitiesCultural HeritageCoastal

Cannes i solnedgang
© RossHelen / Istockphoto - Cannes i solnedgang

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 14 November 2023, updated on 1 June 2024

Sometimes the best thing about travelling is the unexpected twists and turns. In France it's good now and again to shelve your plans and just let yourself be surprised. So why don't we head down to the Riviera and stop off at the Cannes Film Festival? What a great idea! And maybe if we're lucky, we'll bump into Cate Blanchett or Penelope Cruz…

At the very last minute, my childhood friend Anne invites me to join her in Cannes, right in the middle of the Festival. A dash of greatness, red carpets, crazy evenings on the Croisette, and even perhaps the chance to walk up those famous stairs. I jump at the chance.

Day 1: I keep my eyes peeled from the moment I step off the plane. You never know... Perhaps that's Catherine Deneuve hiding behind her shades in the front row. No? Not a chance! But at Nice airport, I come across an old friend who suggests an aperitif and a bite to eat. He takes me to Pip's place, a nice institution where you can tuck into socca, a local delicacy freshly made from chickpeas and lightly sprinkled with pepper. Delightful!

Day 2: Bit of a lie-in today. My friend Anne has already been here for four days and is already doing the 'I can't face the crowds any more' thing. So she suggests a cultural excursion to the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. I'm happy to tag along and am amazed to discover the riches of the modern and contemporary art collections of this little jewel up in the heights: Giacometti, Miró, Braque, Chagall, Fabrice Hybert, so many treasures that I don't know where to look next!

Day 3: It's pouring down. Just my luck. Just when I was hoping to go to the Martinez beach for "La Semaine de la Critique" cocktail party, where I've miraculously got my name onto the list. Never mind. We set out for Grasse to indulge in the scent of flowers and cut grass at Galimard and Fragonard with guided visits and olfactory workshops on the agenda...

Day 4: The blue skies are back! I don't feel like shutting myself away in a dark room to watch the latest Haneke. So we head for the Cap d’Antibes, to a wild creek near the legendary Eden Roc Hotel. But we'd need binoculars to see the stars hiding out there. So we make for the cliffs instead to pick the winkles from between the rocks. On the way back, we stay at the Belles Rives hotel, where we meet the ghost of Fitzgerald, cocktail in hand...

Day 5: Anne tells me about a lunch for famous women at the a Guérite restaurant on Ile Sainte-Marguerite. An attractive proposition! The only problem is that at the jetty, they tell us there are no more boats leaving before 2pm! Damn and blast! By the time we get there, all the celebs will have left. Hang on, is that Angelina Jolie waving at me from the boat heading in the opposite direction? Nothing for it but to enjoy this dream scenery and the menu with its lobster and salt crust sea bass, which is simply delicious. It's clear that on the Riviera, glamour doesn't always show up where you expect to find it!

By Pauline Weber

Freelance journalist specialising in culture @paulineweber_

See more