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Sun, glamour, and luxury: the history of film on the French Riviera

“Cannes is a circus, so you have to have fun with it.” Mathieu Almaric

Venice, 1938. The winners at the Venice Film Festival have been decided, but the jury bows to pressure from Hitler and Mussolini just hours before the results are revealed.  The jury changes its announcement in favour of a Nazi propaganda documentary. French diplomat and historian Philippe Erlanger is outraged.  He begins talks with Jean Zay, Minister for Education and Fine Arts in France. The plan is to set up a new film festival in France, one that is free of political interference and constraints.

Plans for the new event are put on the backburner during the turmoil of World War II.  But in September 1946 the Cannes Film Festival as we know it was born. Thereafter the festival grows rapidly in prestige and popularity.  So much so that by the mid-1950s the biggest names in film, as well as hundreds of journalists, descend upon the Riviera each year.  The festival’s notoriety reaches a peak by about the mid 50s with a string of scandals that captured the imagination of the press and public.  1954 sees Simone Silva snapped sunbathing topless on the Lérins Islands. This piques global interest in the event even further.

Film on the French Riviera

Although it attracts glamour and celebrity, The Cannes Film Festival isn’t the only reason the Riviera is associated with the film industry.   Hitchcock first brought the attention of the world to Cannes with his 1929 silent film, Easy Virtue.  Afterwards he returned to the dramatic coastline in 1940 with Rebecca. He came one last time in 1954 to shoot To Catch a Thief in technicolour.  The Riviera features in many other blockbusters, including Never Say Never Again. This film stars Sean Connery as James Bond and it features the old fort in Antibes.  If you interested in driving some of the roads made famous in these films, read here for some routes local to Parc du Cap.

Cap d’Antibes, the perfect retreat

From super luxe hospitality to outrageous afterparties, the ceremony that surrounds the Cannes Film Festival has always been extraordinary. One hotel favoured by A-listers including Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood is almost on Parc du Cap’s doorstep. The Hotel du Cap Eden Roc occupies a coveted position at the southernmost tip of the Cap d’Antibes.  Its old-world glamour and aura of privacy makes it a favourite of Hollywood stars and royalty. The palatial hotel boasts 22 acres of lush land, hidden amidst a forest of pine. With 117 guest rooms and two private villas, Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is on the radar of many Film Festival nominees.

We are looking forward to extending a warm welcome to this year’s Film Festival nominees when they arrive on the Riviera next week.  It is an honour to share our beautiful coastal home with world-class talent.

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