8 practical tips for attending Cannes Film Festival for the first time (with Gifs)

By Sean Rodrigo 17.04.15

Following up from my article ‘My Cannes experience’ I thought I’d write up some quick travel tips leading into the festival season. If this will be your first time in Cannes hopefully the below tips will help you navigate the festival and getting to the french riviera a little easier.


1. Take a partner



Going it alone is fine, but the festival is a huge social event and I found that it really helped to have my girlfriend with me on ground. Having a film making partner (producer/writer) or friend can really help in social situations, plus it’s good to have someone who will force you out of bed after a long night and keep the energy up when one of you is waning from 14 hours of meetings/partying. It was also very helpful in lots of moments where having a female perspective helped me get a second read on people in a networking room. Think of it like a giant party, if you have a friend it’s going to make you more relaxed and easier to talk to in a group.


If you don’t take a partner, just make sure you’re disciplined and don’t go home too early because you’re bored. Consider meeting up with a fellow filmmaker or meeting people in the market, and attacking the events together.


If you are Australian, Screen Australia typically runs an Aussies in Cannes Facebook page . Lots of other countries run events with screenings and parties at the ‘Village International’ embassies, which are a great place to relax and meet cool people.

2. Language

Assuming you haven’t already, learning a little French will go a long way. The French are a lot nicer when you at least try to speak the language. We used a iPhone app called ‘Duolingo‘ to learn how to order and ask for directions.


3. Telecommunication



You can buy a simcard from a local carrier quite cheaply but then you have to make sure you understand the terms (as they’ll likely be in French). The festival registration desk typically have a sim deal that you can use to make calls and data but it’s at a cost.


My tip is to buy a sim for important stuff only and use wifi as much as you can, using Skype to make calls. The British Pavilion has free wifi and the American Pavilion has it also but at an entry fee (which is worth it).

4. Accommodation

We stayed out of the main Cannes area, at the Hotel Mercure Cannes Mandelieu, which was a good price, clean, quiet, had good services and spacious rooms. The other cool thing was that they run a shuttle bus to the Palais and we met a number of people on that bus (you may want to confirm this). If you stay here, get a train to Cannes and a taxi to the hotel.
Lots of people used AirBnb and some stay in shared accomodation, but please beware of scams! The festival attracts thousands of people from around the world and every year filmmakers get ripped off by opportunistic scammers on sites where security isnt a guarantee (and don’t make the mistake of thinking it can’t happen to you, I know of a few seasoned Cannes attendees who have been ripped off and have been left out of pocket).
5. Transport
Trains in regional France are not run the same way as the Paris Metro (which is amazing), the regional trains are fine if you have time on your side, they give you a beautiful scenic look at France but they are slow, prone to strikes and infrequent.
Taxis are about the same price as Australia but they are also very nice cars, had good local knowledge and didn’t rip us off ever. Buses are a gamble, drivers don’t speak English at all and they’re run irregularly.
6. Food

We mostly ate away from the main festival area in Cannes, and the food was fantastic (as you would imagine, it’s France!)
Notable food places:
Baguettes – A great little super cheap baguette and sandwich place in Cannes – corner of Rue Hoche and Rue Chabaud. Seriously good goats (chev) cheese baguette was about $7.
New York, New York – American style bistro on the main strip – good for casual dining.
– The Carlton – Obviously very expensive but a good meeting place for large serious business meetings.
– American Pavilion – It’s worth going to, cost us about $15 a day but it included wifi, access to decently priced food and talks by producers of short listed films including ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘How to train your dragon’. It’s a slice of the US on French soil and the one place sure to be full of American visitors. One finance executive we met said “this is the only place that matters for serious commercial film”.
– UK Pavilion – Do smaller talks and have free wifi/free entry.
7. Networking
We found that every opportunity was a good one to meet people. I’m sure if you can set up lots of meetings prior to arriving it’s a better use of time, but we met people waiting for cabs, on a shuttle bus and in one occasion we were invited on to a mega-yacht by someone who just liked talking to us. We also got lots of referrals from people to other people to open conversations.
8. Enjoy the little things.

The coolest thing about the festival (other than the fact it’s Cannes) is that you’re in the French Riviera, so if one of the days turns out to be crap and you need a break, grab a baguette, eat it on the beach and take in the sunshine.

About Sean:

Sean Rodrigo is a Sydney-based Writer/Director. His short film Nerds in Love is a 12 minute romantic comedy which has screened at Flickerfest International Film Festival and St Kilda Film Festival and Comedy Central NZ. It was also represented at the Short Film Corner (Cannes Court Metrage) at Cannes Film Festival 2014.


Catch Sean online at @seaneternalknot on Twitter or www.seanrodrigo.com and his film at @nerdsinlovefilm or www.nerdsinlovemovie.com.

Check out Sean’s (Australian) ABC News Radio National interview at Cannes.

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