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Basking in the buzz of the Cannes International Film Festival

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Story and photos by Mike Crane

Our scooter’s trusty little 150cc engine whirred away as it whisked us along France’s scenic Côte d’Azur. The drive from St. Tropez thus far had been a breathtaking cruise along fine sandy beaches laced with a turquoise sea, all under the warmth of a glowing Mediterranean sun.

With every passing kilometre we became more anxious as we neared our weekend destination of Cannes, which would be partying non-stop as it was the height of the world renowned Cannes International Film Festival.

Rolling into town, the open coastal road led into a sea of people, sparkling motorcades, dutiful police officers and packs of whining scooters. The air was chock-full of excitement and every public space buzzed with media, done up movie stars, producers and fans alike. Multimillion-dollar yachts lined the harbour, silhouetted by dozens of cruise ships in the tranquil bay. On Cannes’ ample beaches, sun worshipers took in the views and soaked up the rays.

Every year in May, for roughly two weeks, Cannes is host to an orgy of film celebrities and wannabes. Motorcades continuously cruise stars to showings along the famed boulevard draped with life-sized movie posters and banners.

With a team of rooftop spotters on the lookout for motorcades, hordes of eager fans anxiously wait at the Palais des Festivals in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the stars strutting up the red carpet.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival runs from May 17 to 28. Although the festival is an event for film industry professionals it remains a huge draw for avid film buffs and tourists alike looking to catch a glimpse of Hollywood celebrities.

Our first day disappeared quickly in a selection of foreign film screenings interrupted by strolls along the prestigious Boulevard de la Croisette, alongside other festival fans. Along the harbourfront, rows of polished Ferraris and Lamborghinis reflected the Mediterranean in their polished-mirror finishes. Beyond the cars lay massive yachts, whose daily upkeep cost as much as many people’s annual salary.

As the sun headed west we took refuge from the hype on one of Cannes’ many sandy beaches to bask in the afternoon heat and take in the view from afar. Afterward we grabbed a bite to eat at one of the bustling patio-lined cafes which provided a front row seat to the eclectic mix of people – some looking for celebrities, some looking to be seen, others working and others just absorbing the atmosphere and the sun.

With one last walk by the Palais’ immaculate red carpet in search of some familiar famous faces our day wound to an end. The day would finish with an electric orange sunset blanketing the coastal mountains lining the calm waters of the bay.

Exhausted from all the excitement, and perhaps a bit too much sun, we mounted our trusty scooter in search of our hotel where we would get some rest before doing it all over again the next day.

Now in its 59 th year and going stronger than ever, the Cannes International Film Festival continues to attract film industry elites and fans from around the globe creating an ambience few festivals can rival.

Mike Crane is a local freelance travel writer also specializing in décor photography.

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