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Cannes Film Festival 2019 bookings

How to book for the Cannes Film Festival on May 14th-25th

Featured in: | Ana Hernández, Cannes Editor | Published
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Each May, the city of Cannes plays host to some of the biggest names in world film at the much-anticipated Cannes Film Festival. Certainly one of the main events on the Cote d'Azur, the 2019 edition is ready to offer you an unforgettable experience.

The Festival de Cannes is an event reserved for film industry professionals who need an accreditation to gain access to the Palais des Festivals, the film screenings and the general red carpet area. However, that doesn't mean that you can't have a great time in Cannes during the festival, enjoy the atmosphere of the red carpet and possibly even crash a film screening.

How to get there

Without a doubt, the easiest way to get to Cannes is to arrive at the international airport only 28km away in the city of Nice. With numerous international and European flights landing here every day, you should be able to find a convenient flight to suit your needs although you might need to book well in advance (have a look at our flight finder to find the right one for you). The regular 45-minute bus service that runs between the Nice Cote d'Azur airport and Cannes means that you will get to your end destination quickly, or you might prefer the comfort and ease of an airport transfer or taxi of which there are plenty. Of course, there is always the option of a helicopter transfer, quicker and far more stylish. Several helicopter transfers run during the Film Festival and take just 7 minutes, costing around €160-€200 per person.

If you were considering driving here, then you should remember that parking in Cannes may prove expensive and challenging during the two-week-long event. Check with your accommodation in advance to see if parking is available.

Another quick and convenient way to get to Cannes is by train. The main station of Gare de Cannes-la-Bocca is connected to the rest of France via the SNCF train network, with the TGV (France's high-speed rail service) running daily from Paris.

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Where to stay

The Festival de Cannes is a global event and probably the most popular of the year so you will need to book well in advance for boutique or luxury hotels within walking distance of the main venues. The population of Cannes triples during these two weeks so expect many of the top hotels to be booked out by high-profile clients, their entourage and their security. In fact, some of the grand dame hotels will be restricted to festival badge holders only. Those rooms that are available are likely to charge a premium for the pleasure of staying close to the action.

Staying in the neighbouring towns of Antibes and Vallauris could be a good option for more affordable accommodation. Buses run regularly between the towns, as does the train, so travel will be relatively easy. There are also night buses that run until 02:30 should you want to party at night and rub shoulders with the stars. When booking a hotel outside of Cannes, ask specifically whether the train or bus stop is within walking distance to the hotel. 

If you have some cash to splash then you may wish to consider hiring a yacht and mooring in the Cannes marina or at one of the neighbouring ports

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How to see the films

This industry-only event is a badged affair and it can be tricky to sneak into a film without one but there are a few ways that you can try if you are determined to join the throngs at a screening. These are invitation only and the invites will mostly be given to celebrities, friends of the filmmakers, locals, and other folks with connections. However, the good news is that badge-holders actually get penalised if they take tickets and then don’t use them so, as a result, there are a lot of tickets given away by badge-holders at the last minute to avoid the ticket penalty.

A little patience, some killer heels and a sign with your request could well be the key to your success. A ticket entitles you to walk the red carpet as well as allowing you into the film screening, so remember that the dress code is mandatory – black tie or gown is essential. Once you have your glad rags on, make yourself a sign letting people known how many invitations you are looking for and, if you're picky, to which film. Then get yourself to the Palais des Festivals and the red carpet nice and early so that you have a better chance of grabbing any tickets that become available. Most importantly, smile, say pretty please and pray to the gods of cinema!

If this plan doesn't work out then fear not, all is not lost. There are free movies on the beach every evening during the festival from 21:00. Cinema de la Plage will screen a 'Cannes Classic' on Plage Mace close to the Palais des Festivals. You don't need a ticket for this but we would recommend getting there early if you want to take advantage of the deck chairs and blankets. Alternatively, take your own beach towel and settle down on the sand. 

Screenings at fringe events

For something a little more avant-garde, then the Director’s Fortnight or 'Quinzaine des Réalisateurs' screenings are available for a very reasonable €8. Created by the French Directors Guild in the wake of the events of May ’68 – the festival was cancelled in solidarity with the workers and the students who were protesting across France, this event seeks to aid filmmakers and contribute to their discovery by the critics and audiences alike. All the films are subtitled in English and the first screening of each film features an intro and Q&A by the director and cast. Tickets are on sale at counters on the Malmaison Esplanade (there is no advance booking) but, even with a ticket, you need to queue early for entry.  

It may also be possible to gain free entry to the screenings at the Critics' Week or 'Semaine de la Critique' at Espace Miramar. Priority entry is given to those with accreditation. However, any additional seats can be taken for free by non-accredited individuals. It is recommended that you arrive at least 50 minutes before the performance in order to begin queuing.

Where to spot the celebrities

To be honest, just about anywhere in Cannes during the Film Festival is 'the place to be'. However, there are a few classic haunts that you mustn't miss while you're in town. 

The two hot tickets in town will doubtless be the Bar L'Amiral in the Cannes Hotel Martinez and the Carlton Bar of the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes Hotel. These two hotels have seen high-profile guests over the years such as Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Robert de Niro, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino, and more recently Robert Pattison, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Chastain, Julia Roberts, CateBlanchett or Susan Sarandon. A coffee in either of these bars is sure to allow a sneak peek at some of the rich and famous who will be attending the festival. 

The Cercle bar and terrace of Le Grand Hotel is another great place on La Croisette to sit back and relax with a coffee as you enjoy some of the best people watching that Cannes has to offer. Le Petit Maison de Nicole in the Cannes Majestic Barriere Hotel is not only a great seafood restaurant and winebar but the perfect spot for a late night drink and a bit of celebrity spotting. A favourite with the likes of Matthew McConaughey and Paris Hilton.

Be warned though, many of these hotels will require you to have accreditation to enter or at least be with a guest. If the sun shines in Cannes then the Promenade de la Croisette remains one of the most fun – and free – places to sit and marvel at the celebrity circus before you.

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More inspiration...

If you can tear yourself away from the frivolities of the Film Festival then there are plenty of other things to see and do in Cannes. When you need a break and to refuel then don't forget to check our selection of Cannes restaurants and cafes.

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