Lorraine Keane shares her insider knowledge of Cannes and recommends where to stay, shop and dine …
I’ve hung out on many red carpets in my time as Entertainment Correspondent and host of Xposé with TV3 for twelve years, but my latest trip to the Cannes Film Festival was a different experience altogether.
This time I wasn’t behind a barrier with the international media vying for a few seconds with the world’s biggest movie stars to air on TV3 later that day. This time I was invited as a guest by my friends: film maker and director Ruth Meehan and her sister, fashion designer, Deborah Veale.
Last year Ruth released her debut feature film The Bright Side to great aplomb in Irish cinemas. This May it launched on Amazon Prime, which happened to coincide with Le Festival du Cannes. I didn’t need much persuasion to join this intrepid duo. As a lover and supporter of all things fashion, film and culture, the idea of the red carpet at Cannes was too tempting to resist.
But what to wear? When it comes to the Cannes Film Festival, there is no such thing as being overdressed and lucky for me, I happened to arrive with my own personal designer. Deborah’s evening wear, which might leave me slightly overdressed of an evening in Monkstown, fitted seamlessly into the movie set that is Cannes.
As a place to visit, Cannes has always been one of my favourite spots on the Côte d’Azur and after two years in a monochrome world it was great to be back. But, let’s be frank, you could leave a small fortune behind you in Cannes. However, we were lucky to get advice from seasoned Cannes attendee, producer Kate McColgan, on how to do Cannes stylishly. Number one rule during the Festival is you don’t stay in Cannes, it’s overpacked and overpriced.
Ten minutes down the coast is the magical Juan les Pins. Kate advised us to stay at Hôtel Cecil, a three-star boutique hotel located in a Belle Epoque building, a five minute walk from the train station. For those of us without limos, the train service drops you to the centre of Cannes (€9 for a weekly ticket) and goes every 20 minutes.
Hotel Belles Rives
Juan Les Pins also happens to have some of the most beautiful and peaceful beach clubs which, when you have had your fill of the excitement in Cannes, is a welcome relief. You can spend a whole day here on a sun-lounger with the crystal-clear water lapping at your feet for a mere €15 per day. The menu is beach-bar style but local and fresh. If it’s five-star you’re looking for then the uber-cool art deco Belles Rives, with its own Beach Club and spa is a serious step-up; www.bellesrives.com.
Back in Cannes, the first thing that struck me coming from Ireland is that I wasn’t bowled over by the prices, even at The Armani bar, our first stop off for a glass of rosé and a snack. It is on the main thoroughfare, Boulevard de la Croisette – a perfect spot for a bit of people watching. We watched and were entertained, amazed, inspired and let’s be honest, we were a tad judgmental at some of the fashion faux pas, as everyone who is anyone sauntered and sashayed their way towards the Grand Palais and the evening’s high-profile premieres. This year’s the big releases included Top Gun, Elvis and Armageddon Time.
Basically, lunch is all about the beach clubs, which also come into their own for the parties later at night too. Carlton Cannes Beach Club (which was closed for refurb) with its white sun-loungers and parasols is very cool but be prepared to pay a lot more for the privilege in high season when booking is essential.
Rue Saint-Antoine is in the old town and is a great street for a choice of fabulous places to eat. Le Maschou might be my favourite. It’s traditional French cuisine in an atmospheric setting; www.lemaschou.com Be aware that Le Quartier Historique is almost entirely cobbled and can be quite windy, so flat shoes and a pashmina are recommended if you fancy walking and dining al fresco. The area is also home to my favourite Japanese restaurant Mido. Six of us chose a large round table on the terrace and went for the tasting menu. I’m still dreaming of it. At €80 per head our food bill was cheaper than our wine bill. Although it’s worth a mention that even during the festival and in the most luxurious of dining experiences, a bottle of Whispering Angel rosé was less expensive than in the finest restaurants in Dublin. I guess the grapes for this Provence rosé don’t have as far to travel! I’m told Mido has three sister restaurants in Cannes, which are equally good; www.mido-cannes.com.
When you’re in Cannes, a trip to one of the islands is well worth it on a hot day and boats/boat taxis of all sizes can be booked in advance. We took a boat to Antibes to have lunch at the famous Eden Roc Grill, part of the Oetker Collection. A favourite among the jet-set, there is something quite magical about approaching the nautical-themed restaurant (perched on the side of the cliff) from the seaside. It has a menu worthy of its Michelin star sister restaurant up the hill at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, without the pomp or the price tag. It’s more relaxed and laid-back and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier.
If you have a day to spare Saint-Paul de Vence is not far by car, bus or train and definitely worth a visit. It’s a treasure trove of cobbled winding streets bulging with all sorts of handmade crafts and quirky collectibles that I find irresistible.
I definitely recommend Cannes for a weekend visit or a longer stay. These sorts of trips inspire Deborah and Ruth. For them, new places, new people, new ideas and new ways of seeing all feedback to their world of work. Well, that’s their excuse anyway. I am lucky to be friends with such inspiring women and firmly believe when women support women, powerful things happen.
Need to Know: Ruth Meehan’s film can be viewed here.
For further information on Deborah Veale’s fashion collection visit www.Deborahveale.com.
Follow Lorraine Keane on Instagram @lorrainekeaneofficial