I’ve been three times on assignment in the past year and recently returned from another and very timely sojourn.
The reason? The Cannes International Film Festival opens tomorrow — May 17. This year marks 70 years of cinema heritage [mural pictured above].
I was there to report back on preparations for a feature in this weekend’s Telegraph Travel.
But, joining an escorted tour for a few days, I was also trying to put the glamour of the Riviera into context.
I explored some of the reports, spanning the French-Italian border, frequented by the British gentry long before the likes of Brigitte Bardot [pictured below] arrived with photographers in hot pursuit.
Here’s an extract from my first draft, based around a visit to Monte Carlo Casino.
I’m not a natural high roller.
If I was Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, then I’d be sporting a freshly pressed tuxedo, sipping a martini, shaken not stirred of course, and nonchalantly placing all my chips on black 17.
In reality I’m budget Bond: a Ben Sherman shirt, sipping an espresso and observing the oligarchs at play from a safe distance.
Still, at least I can still admire the Belle Époque ceiling and renaissance frescos in the Europa gaming room of Monte Carlo Casino.
After all, I have paid 17 Euros just to walk inside.
The Cannes Film Festival marks its 70th anniversary this year. The event runs May 17 to 28.
I’ve always been a French film fan — ever since taking a module in French cinema as a student at Leeds University.
I was in Cannes last weekend, indulging my interest in cinema and French culture, to preview the build up to the festival.
I was there on assignment for France Magazine.
Touring the attractions for a cinephile’s guide to Cannes, I found the handprints of Pedro Almodovar [pictured above], the president of the jury for this year’s festival, outside the Palais des Festivals.
I also followed a trail of film-themed murals around the town, including giant facade-dominating images of Buster Keaton and Alain Delon.
Cannes is not an obvious weekend-break destination for Brits but, I discovered, it’s compact, culturally rich and pleasantly spring like — even in low-season February.
Here’s a preview of my story:
Cannes has been closely associated with the glamour of the world of cinema’s cornerstone event since the origins of the festival in 1939. The red carpet, today rolled out in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congres just off the Boulevard de la Croisette, retains a frisson of Hollywood glitter. Not bad for the town that provided the backdrop to Meg Ryan’s French Kiss and Mr Bean’s Holliday.
Look out for this and more stories from the trip in May.
I was in Cannes [pictured above] this time last week — eating a fish stew with a cheeky glass of chilled white at the Carlton Beach Club to be precise.
I had come to the French Riviera to research an article about Cannes’ rich cinematic heritage in time for the 70th International Film Festival in 2017; the 69th festival opens next week with Woody Allen’s new film.
But, between the cinema walking tour from La Croisette and an afternoon exploring the giant wall murals of Hollywood stars through history, I also rediscovered my love for all things French.
I lived in France for one year in the early Nineties as part of undergraduate life at Leeds University. It was a truly formative experience — a rite of passage of language skills, modern art and smelly cheese.
I returned to Leeds afloat on Left Bank pretensions and sporting a crushed-velor jacket.
But the head space of a year abroad also helped me decide to eschew a career path in Euro finance in favour of something more creative.
Come autumn, I walked into the office of Leeds Student newspaper and asked for a job.
Now, at another career crossroads, a few days of vin rouge, Jean Gabin and even more smelly cheese provided a contemplative Cote D’Azur backdrop to pondering the next chapter.
Viva la France!
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