And so, our second day on the Cote D’Azur saw us boarding a bus heading back west along the coast towards Cannes, just over an hour away. I was looking forward to seeing some more spectacular scenery along the highway, but instead, the road was more or less flat and we passed through some simple towns with non-descript commercial centers. In between, we would enter and leave the coastal highway with industrial zones between the water and the asphalt. It was a little disappointing, but we never mind being on the move and seeing new places. This was just adding to our knowledge of the coast of southern France.
At last we arrived in the city known primarily for its International Film Festival, held here each May. The rest of the year, the city feeds off the reputation of these hectic two weeks when stars from all over the world arrive to reap the rewards of some brilliant performances, or weep over not being recognized for their hard work. Studio executives spend the fourteen days on their mobile phones, hoping to broker a deal that will see them not only replenish their coffers, but make enough money to finance the next big blockbuster.
Now, here we have Anil Kapoor, a man with the same name as one of the stars of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, the runaway smash hit of 2008/2009 around the world. I did a search to see if ‘Slumdog’ won at Cannes, but it appears it did not. It seems to have won every other possible award; I will have to do some more research as to why it didn’t win here. That would certainly explain why Anil Kapoor could wander the streets without being mobbed by hordes of admiring fans.
It was great to see the city during the quiet month of October, the sun was warm, the beaches here actually have sand on them and it was pleasant to climb to the top of the tall hill at the western edge of town for a view over the port, the Palais des Festivals and out to the small islands offshore. It was on one of these islands, Île Ste-Marguerite, that the ‘Man In The Iron Mask’ was imprisoned during the 17th century.
We spent the afternoon walking around the centre, having a pleasant lunch on a narrow pedestrian street, window-shopping along the Blvd de la Croisette where all the well-heeled visitors actually spend their Euros. As we walked along the beach we could see threatening clouds further west over the peninsula where St. Tropez is situated. We had thought of visiting the Mecca of Riviera chic, that Brigitte Bardot made famous in the 1950s, but were happy to have given it a miss. It looked like it was raining in paradise.
As we looped back towards the marina, we came upon the Cannes Walk Of Fame and I stopped to snap some photos. I did spot the handprints of some of my favorite movie directors as well as the paw prints of the Pink Panther. Inspector Clouseau was nowhere in sight. There wasn’t really much else to do. The water was too cold to swim but I was happy that we had made the effort to see a place that has figured tall in my imagination ever since I became interested in international films.
We might have been better off taking the train back to Nice, as we hadn’t anticipated the rush hour on our trip home. Each town was clogged with traffic, and getting on and off the expressway was tedious. I guess you could say, we really amassed a great deal of knowledge about life on the French Riviera after all. For those who don’t flit in and out on helicopters or private yachts, life is the same as it is everywhere else, pleasant moments in the sun interspersed with rain clouds and traffic hassles.