The Côte d'Azure is renowned as playground for the rich and famous, and while people-watching is an established hobby along the length of the Riviera, Cannes busies itself with a loftier pursuit, star-gazing. It's not a sport claustrophobic - the city's population trebles for the festival, nor is it for the weak willed - you'll have to elbow your way past an estimated 4,000 journalists to get a good look at the luminaries.
The Palais des Festivals is where most of the screenings, and glitzy parties, are held. Although it's a 'closed shop' for those not in the biz, a spot of deft fabrication has been known to open doors. Running along the waterfront is la Croisette, Cannes ' most celebrated promenade. It was here in 1953 that, a then unknown, Brigitte Bardot got heads turning by wearing only a bathing costume(Jean-Paul Sartre tried similar stunt a few years previously, though it was received with less aesthetic rapture).
Up until the late thirties Venice was recognised as Europe 's leading film festival. As Mussolini settled into the driving seat the Venice festival became little more than a vehicle to spread fascist propaganda and France stepped in. Cannes ' infancy was short lived, with only one film The Hunchback of Nôtre Dame, being shown before the outbreak of the war. In 1946 things got going again, and after a number of teething problems including; electricians' strikes, a terrorist strike(in 1975 'The People's Struggle Against The Perversion of Humanity' planted a bomb under the Palais the day before the festival opened), and pie strikes(Jean-Luc Godard was professionally struck in 1985), it flowered into the festival as it's recognised today.
Proving that the casting-couch is still alive and well(and getting worn out), May also sees Cannes hosting the sultry Hot d'Or. Colloquially known as the Porn d'Or this adult flick festival; provides and alternative to the mainstream, makes a virtue of 'prostituting your work' and demonstrates that a 'glamorous' outfit needn't cost the earth - if anything at all.