The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer’s need to know

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

I feel like there should be a title theme tune before reading… nay… embarking on this post. Maybe the 20th Century Fox fanfare, something of that ilk.

Because it’s here, you guys. It’s here. 

The veil has finally been lifted from the mysterious, coveted event that is Cannes with my ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide.

This guide is built upon information that just does not exist on the Cannes Film Festival Official Website. Because why would it be?

They don’t care if you know what each different badge colour means. Cannes Film Festival has no time to tell you what colour invitation you need to watch films. It’s an elite, high-class film festival that assumes anyone attending Cannes has already been before. And I will attempt to answer all of these little annoying questions you have with this Cannes Film Festival guide.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

A small note: this guide is from the perspective of a Cannes Cinephile badge holder. Correction, an introverted Cannes Cinephile badge holder. I will discuss a little about hotels and industry parties at the end, but I am not your gal if you want insider tips on how to crash one. No siree!

I am also not your gal if you’re a film festival distributor, financier or any other so-called bigwig looking for insider tips. It won’t shock you to know that I am a mere blogger and have therefore never purchased film rights or produced a motion picture. In fact, this article will be more helpful if that’s your thing. Or actually, the Cannes Film Festival Participer page is for you. It features useful, practical information if you have a festival badge.

But… if you’re about to attend Cannes for the very first time and are looking for a Cannes Film Festival guide written by a kindred spirit, a friendly voice to guide you through the masses… a Cannes Bible, if you will… I am YOUR gal.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know including badge colours, great Cannes resources, what to wear at Cannes film festival and where to stay in Cannes |

Map of all Cinemas, Box Offices & places of interest

I’ve broken down all the cinemas into groups, and list all the box offices and places of interest while you are at Cannes.

How to Apply for the Cannes Film Festival

I wrote a guide detailing how to apply for a Cannes Cinephile badge/accreditation. I decipher all of the documents required and include my insider tips and tricks.

Applications usually open on February 1st and last for about a month.

Guides: Cinephile badge holders & those without a badge

I have also written more guides! If you’re attending Cannes Film Festival with a Cinephile badge or without one, I have a Cannes Film Festival guide that specifies what films at which cinemas are for you.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |


  • Cannes – It’s spoken without the ‘S’ as any Francophile would tell you. It’s also pronounced like ‘can of Coke’ and not ‘Wrath of Khan.’
  • Boulevard de la Croisette – The Croisette (pronounced like ‘qwa-zette’) is the main beachfront promenade in Cannes. This is where you will find a small funfair, the Cinéma de la Plage, the Cannes Film Festival Gift Shop and the first stretch of International Village Pavillions. Most of the industry parties are held here or nearby.
  • Invitations – Otherwise known as ‘tickets.’ All tickets (unless under very particular circumstances) are free and this is probably why the term ‘invitation’ is most often used.
  • Gala – If anyone says ‘Gala’, they are referring to the evening, glitzy screening of a film in the Grand Lumière Théâtre.
  • Cannes Cinephile Space/Tent/Office – All terms are used to describe one place. If you have Cinephile accreditation, head here to pick up your badge. It is open from 9:00-17:30 during the festival and is where you can pick up Cinephile brochures and invitations.
  • Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Or just the Palais des Festivals. This is the main building where films are screened and events are held. Palais is pronounced ‘pa-lay.’
  • The Palme d’Or – The main and most coveted award at the Cannes Film Festival. This award is the equivalent to ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars. Films screened in competition at Cannes are up for this award and several others with more obvious names such as Best Screenplay, Best Director, etc.
  • Marché du Film/Film Market – The business part of Cannes. The Film Market is behind the Palais des Festivals and is where distributors, producers and financiers head to get funding for their project or get a film picked up for distribution. Unsurprisingly, Cinephiles would not be allowed to enter this area.
  • International Village Pavilions – The pavilions are essentially tents (like the Cannes Cinephile tent) that line up along the Croisette and the beach front. 60+ countries have their own pavilion to represent their film industry and hold events. I can only assume this village exists so country representatives can persuade as many people as possible to shoot a movie in their country? I have no idea!
  • The Dailies – Free magazines dotted around stands in the Palais des Festivals. They are printed every day and include all of yesterday’s gossip.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

Badges: Types, Colours & where to pick them up

There is an elite caste system, especially among members of the Press, at Cannes with an array of colours and hierarchies. There is no explanation given as you why you may be given one colour or another, Cannes Film Festival keeps this to themselves. And you only find out what colour/access you’ve been granted once you pick up your badge. And yes, dropping down a badge colour isn’t unheard of. The shame!

As you can probably guess, the better your badge, the more opportunities/screenings/events open to you.

If you have a Cinephile badge, head to the Cinephile tent that I’ve marked on the Google Map above to pick up your badge.

Every other badge holder: head inside the Palais des Festivals and ask the nice security men if you need directions. I believe you’ll also get a welcome pack and other goodies I’m not privy to know about.

  • Cinephile – Yellow/cream colour. The Lowest of the low.
  • Press & Festival – Press badges are, from the peasants to kings, Yellow, Blue, Pink, Pink with a Yellow dot (wtf?) and finally, White. White Press Badge holders are not only veteran journalists but veteran Cannes attendees.
  • Press (Photographers) – Photographer badges only have two levels, Grey then Orange.
  • Press (Film Crews) – Just a Green badge available for Film Crews.
  • Market – Black for all Market badges.
  • Talent – Purple Protocol badge with a blue circle. You’ll see ‘protocol’ on badge signposts and this means talent or actor/actress/performer. I have no idea why they need a blue dot when it’s the only purple badge. Maybe they get mixed up with the pink?
  • The Mythical All-Access – There are rumours of an elusive AAA badge available for veteran Producers and Film Royalty that have supported Cannes for years. It’s been said that *cough* Harvey Weinstein *cough* and Carla Bruni have the badge.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

Invitations: Types, Colours & where to pick them up

I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about invitations. There are different colours and I’m not entirely sure what some of the colours mean.

I think the colour of invitations is all to do with who you can bring in as a guest and whether or not you even need a badge if you have an invitation of a particular colour. Something like that. This is a great Cannes Film Festival guide, isn’t it?

Cinephiles pick up invitations at the Cinephile tent. Every other badge holder picks theirs up somewhere in the Palais Des Festivals.

  • Yellow – The Cinephile tent gave out yellow invitations so I’m guessing they’re the easiest ones to get a hold of and you need a badge to use them.
  • Pink – Honestly, I wouldn’t know pink invitations exist if it wasn’t for the fact I was given one by a Journalist for an in-competition screening. I have no idea what pink means!
  • Brown – I know I’ve read about brown invitations but I can’t remember what they were for… Maybe they’re orange and people get the colour wrong? I’m not sure. I suck.
  • Orange – You either need a badge yourself with an orange invitation or be ‘with’ someone who has a badge.
  • Blue – The best kind of invitation because you don’t need a pass to accompany it.

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

Hotels: Where the stars stay

This wouldn’t be a very good Cannes Film Festival guide without teaching you where to hunt out Hollywood’s finest.  These are the top hotels along the Croisette that are the best for celeb-spotting. Every evening, large groups of fans/journalists will wait out on the street for a sneak peek at their favourite actress in the hopes they will stop for a selfie before they head off to an evening gala screening.

You’ll easily be able to see if anything exciting is happening outside. And apparently, you can get inside a hotel bar with a badge on even if you’re not staying there. If you want to try and hopefully meet someone influential, why not! Just make sure you’re prepared for the drinks tab.

  • Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes
  • La Malmaison
  • JW Marriott 
  • InterContinental Carlton
  • Hotel Martinez – This hotel is where I stopped because a crowd seemed to be waiting outside. We saw Julianne Moore and Elle Fanning, so I was pretty chuffed with that!

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

Industry Parties & Events: How to find them & which ones are best

Parties, in general, are not my area of expertise. Look at Tip #7 on this article for more helpful party tips.

From what I saw, most parties are hosted by different companies and countries in the International Village, but some at in the Hotels. This Cannes Party Guide Facebook Group seems to be the best resource I can find for what parties are happening when and where. I’m not sure if you need invitations for these events.

As a Cinephile, you won’t be allowed anywhere (except hotels maybe) where ‘official’ networking happens. If you want to meet important people, hotels and bars are your best bet. And in terms of parties, unless you truly have the gift of the gab and are able to talk your way in, you’ll most likely need a party invitation from one of your new important friends.

A lot of luck and confidence, basically.

If attending parties is more important than watching films, these are supposed to be the best:

  • Film4/UK Film
  • The Irish Film Board
  • Scandinavian Parties
  • Wild Bunch
  • The Producer’s Network
  • Screen International
  • Variety

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know |

My Top 9 Cannes Film Festival Tips: When to go, what to wear, etc.

  • 1. Download the App – It’s just called ‘Cannes 2018’ or whatever year it is and it’s handy for the latest news and you can favourite screenings you want to attend.
  • 2. Get brochures – If your a Cinephile or Festival attendee, just make sure you pick up any brochure/leaflet and determine it’s usefulness later. Even though it was in French, the Cannes Cinephile Brochure and timetable was so handy.
  • 3. Go the first weekend/week – Apparently, the first weekend/week is the most popular/best time to go. People are probably too exhausted by the second week.
  • 4. Don’t forget the Berocca – If you’re in party mode, get ready for a lot of late nights, early mornings and rushed meal times. Remember your vitamins!
  • 5. Don’t forget a raincoat – It didn’t rain while I was in Cannes, but it’s still quite likely that you will experience at least one heavy shower in Cannes.
  • 6. In fact, think about what you’ll wear – During the day, Cannes is chic casual. Think white linen shirts, smart khaki trousers and clean trainers/sandals. At night, a strict dress code is enforced so suit up! You won’t get into a gala screening without a gown.
  • 7. Get to the red carpet early – If you want to see some red carpet action for the evening gala screening, it will be hard as barriers go up for the press. But get there early and you’ll see more than most.
  • 8. Leave some time to explore the rest of Cannes – Check out my 24 Hours in Cannes guide. It’s such a beautiful city and it’s a shame that so many visit Cannes without actually seeing it.
  • 9. If you’re in Film School, become an Intern! – Find out more about being an Intern at Cannes here and apply via the Cannes Film Festival website here.

So that’s my huge, ultimate Cannes Film Festival guide! Let me know if I missed anything. And, as always, comment below if you have any questions! 

Read more:

Attending Cannes Film Festival 2017: Invitations, Sunburn, Pedro, oh my!

How to apply for Cannes Film Festival Accreditation if you’re a regular Cinephile (AKA not Nicole Kidman)

Cannes Film Festival: How to see films with a Cinephile Badge

Cannes Film Festival: How to see films without a Badge/Accreditation

How to Spend 24 Hours in Cannes, France

The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer's need to know including badge colours, great Cannes resources, what to wear at Cannes film festival and where to stay in Cannes |

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide: EVERYTHING First Timer’s need to know

  1. Beryl says:

    Dear Rebecca,
    Thank you for such a detailed post about Cannes! I just have a question regarding accreditations. I attended Cannes last year with the “Trois Jours à Cannes” badge. This year, I am planning to attend as a Cinephile as it grants access for the entire duration of the festival instead of the last three days. However, some people told me that the 3 days badge gets more access into the Palais and can request Evening Screenings (which is what I got last year) making me indecisive about the two. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the difference between these two and what you’d recommend? Thank you very much!

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Beryl,
      Thank you for your lovely comment! That is definitely a tricky issue, I went to Cannes in 2017 so this other badge wasn’t an option for me. I think the first question I need to ask is when exactly you’re planning on going to Cannes? Because as you know, the “Trois Jours à Cannes” badge is only for the last three days of the festival. So if you’re lucky enough to be able to attend Cannes for longer, then I say absolutely go for the Cinephile badge! No question. If you search ‘Cannes’ on my website you’ll see I have lots more posts about what films are available on the Cinephile badge and it’s probably more than you think.
      If you’re only planning on attending for those specific three days, of course, it’s trickier. I could still watch films in the Palais on a cinephile badge subject to availability though I could not request any invitations. A cinephile badge offers you a different experience of the festival but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s limiting. If you happen to be in Cannes for longer than three days there are so many cinemas specifically for those on the Cinephile badge so you can still watch films in-competition that way. Argh, sorry I’m not being more helpful! Without having used the “Trois Jours à Cannes” badge I wouldn’t like to give a definitive answer. Just know that if you are staying for longer, and you do choose the cinephile badge, I can guarantee you can still see films in competition (I did!) and there are still lots and lots of ways to watch films in the Palais if you’re not too fussy about which films you see 🙂 I hope that helps in some way!

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