A glamorous squish of stars, hopefuls, movie industry types and sleep-deprived hacks, the Cannes Film Festival is the most fun you can near a beach. If everything you know about it was gleaned from Medellin's catastrophe premiere in Entourage, here's some handy travel tips to fill in the gaps. Think of it as Lonely Planet: The Movie Edition.
Like every major town, Cannes is, of course, full of streets. Or rues. And boulevards. And little windy cobbled paths. But it's also dominated by its main feature La Croisette, the main promenade that stretches virtually the entire length of Cannes. And that's a long way. Best to disregard Arctic Monkeys' suggestions don't get on your dancing shoes. Instead, bring your best walking brogues because when you go to Cannes, you'll be pounding pavement from morning to midnight. One consolation, though: La Croisette borders the sea, so you get breathtaking views throughout.
If you're a Brit in Cannes, you'll doubtless want to meet up with other like-minded individuals and perhaps exchange anecdotes and/or contact information over a nice cold beer. Which means that you should get yourself down to Le Petit Majestic, a small bar on Rue Tony Allard which positively thrums, every night, with the buzz of chatter as hundreds of filmmakers, journalists and wannabes gather together for a good old booze-fuelled natter. If sipping beer by the side of the road while feeling like an elephant squeezed into a phone box isn't your bag, then retire to Le Grand Hotel, just down the road. It's also become something of a Brit haunt recently, but there are seats and rosé, not beer, is the tipple of choice. Altogether more civilised.
Cannes is a wonderful place, and the Festival is a magnificent experience as long as you have your pass. Whether it's a journalist pass, or a market badge, or something else entirely, here's a word of warning: keep it around your neck at all times. For the Festival is over-populated with over-officious security guards who, apparently, might be killer cyborgs from the future. It's the only explanation for the uniformity of their size (large, like an army of Gallic Jack Reachers), expression (unimpressed) and response to anyone trying to get in anywhere be it a hotel, the Palais du Festival or a public toilet without a pass ('non'). And in Cannes, 'non' means 'no', no matter what. Hard to have a heart when it's been replaced by a microchip.
Want to be a filmmaker? Then the market, or the Marche du Film, is the place to be. Contained within the Palais, it's essentially several floors of stalls and stands, where film companies and budding entrepreneurs gather to watch showreels, finished films, hammer out deals and maybe just maybe lay the groundwork for the Avatars of tomorrow. You'll need a pass to get in, but this is where you can make the contacts that will make or break you.
La Croisette is dominated by hotels. Giant, luxurious hotels, where the A-listers come to play and stay. There are four main hotels on La Croisette the Majestic, the Carlton, the Martinez and the Miramar, all neatly spaced from each other and all dripping with glamour, gold fixtures and fittings, marbled floors and rooms the size of the Batcave. Every day, crowds gather outside the Martinez, in particular, hoping to catch a glimpse of major movie stars as they check in and out. Hang around long enough, they're bound to get lucky. But even the greatest hotel on Cannes pales into insignificance next to the splendour of...
Simply the most exclusive hotel in Cannes, the Hotel du Cap is where all the A-listers hang out, far from the madding crowd. For it's actually not quite in Cannes, but half an hour outside the town, perched high above the ocean in the Cap D'Antibes. With astonishing five star facilities, it's a byword for luxury and opulence and famously, until recently, insisted on a cash-only policy, which really separated the wheat from the chaff. Simply put, if you want people to know that you're part of the It crowd, there's nowhere else you should stay. Check it out at www.hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com.
We all know about the Palme d'Or. Yes, well done, serious filmmaker, you've made a serious film and it deserves an award. Very good. But for us the Palm Dog is the awards ceremony that truly captures the spirit of Cannes. Simply put, it's a barking mad do that celebrates the greatest canine performance from the year's selection of films. The brainchild of flamboyant British journalist, Toby Rose, the Palm Dog has become bigger and bigger over the years, and is now a magnet for an array of guest presenters, movie stars (Jennifer Jason Leigh's dog won a few years back) and fabulous eccentrics with dogs dressed to the (ca)nines. Last year's winner? A split between Banjo and Poppy from Sightseers.
Every year. JCVD comes to Cannes every frickin' year to launch, promote and plug his latest efforts. Every. Single. Year. And every year he manages to avoid Empire. Maybe it's because he knows, deep down inside, that we can kick his ass. But when you get to Cannes, keep your eyes peeled for maximum Van Dammeage. And tell him Empire's waiting for him.